‘America’s Next Top Model’ Review: “The Girl Who Cries Home”
'America's Next Top Model' is back, and the rumors are true: gone are Miss J, Mister Jay, and Nigel Barker, who have all been replaced with more agreeable puppets and PR "maven" Kelly Cutrone. In the second episode of the "special college edition," the girls rock the runway in a night club and have a trophy-hunter-themed photoshoot that involves sticking their heads through wooden plaques in a wall.
But first, a note: We totally messed up and didn't bring you guys a review last week, but I did catch up with the premiere earlier this week. This may very well be the worst season of 'ANTM' yet. Hopefully this new format is a one-off for the special "College Edition" because the element of fans voting and being calculated in by some complicated algorithm sounds absurd, but moreover, 'ANTM' has completely ditched any concept of trying to make legitimate models out of these women. Noticeably absent this season is Vogue magazine, the one thing that really made the last few seasons seem like Tyra Banks was trying to groom real models for a career. Last season we saw her start to move away from that with a recording contract and more focus on things like music videos and fragrances -- as if she were trying to make mini-moguls.
This season allows fans to vote, and those scores are incorporated with the judges' scores and the weekly challenge scores to determine who stays and who goes. Operating as the voice of the fans is fashion blogger Bryanboy, who seems like he was bred in a test tube for reality television.
Another change this season: the winner of the challenge each week gets to visit Tyra's special suite (with a friend), filled with goodies from Smashbox cosmetics and Nine West shoes. And the final change -- and the only one that matters -- is that the winner of each week's photo shoot challenge will receive a $10,000 deposit in her scholarship fund for college.
The drama ball gets rolling this week when home-schooler and sheltered girl Victoria admits she's never had a boyfriend and she's a virgin at the age of 19, prompting a few of the other girls to think she's annoying. But there's little time for cattiness when supermodel judge Rob Evans stops by and gets the ladies to dress up for a night out at Club Eden in Hollwood. The girls must strut their stuff down the runway if they want to win the key to Tyra's goody suite (and we all hear how that sounds, right?).
Most of the girls are awkward on the runway -- notably bad girl Kristin, who keeps tugging at her skirt, and cutie-pie (and my personal favorite) Jessie, who fails to communicate with the audience. Alyssa and, surprisingly, Victoria, do rather well. The winner of the special suite key this week is Yvonne, who used her past dance training to show off her long legs.
YouTube star Patrique (yeah, I don't know, either -- some dude with a beard who wears girls' clothes) shows up like a deranged fairy godmother to give the girls hints about their impending photo shoot. Back at the house, Kiara tells the tattooed and pierced Destiny that she probably got a lower score because she looked like a stripper, and thus we have our first fight in the house.
This week's photo shoot involves the girls sticking their heads through wooden plaques on the wall to pose as hunting trophies, aka dead animal heads. The photographer this week is Shenae Grimes of '90210,' or as I like to remember her, Darcy from 'Degrassi: The Next Generation.' Oh, Canada. Victoria proves to be a seriously chatty Cathy, and while she does well this week and shows off some natural talent, she needs to be careful not to come off like she's giving input where it's not welcome. Kristin relies too much on her natural model looks, but also turns out to be a total whiner on set -- I have a feeling she'll be the girl with all the excuses this season, and I look forward to Tyra putting her in her foolish place.
Early favorite Jessie doesn't fare too well with the shoot, unsure of what to really do with herself. It's unfortunate, but hopefully she'll be around long enough to learn. Out of all of the girls, she seems like the most normal, level-headed of the bunch. But also: that ass, as Tyra and the other judges were so quick to point out last week. Like most Ivy Leaguers, Maria mostly just talks about how she goes to an Ivy League school. Destiny, who is practically living in poverty and putting herself through beauty school, gives a performance woefully lacking the spark that landed her in the competition in the first place.
Victoria, whose obsession with her mother would make Buster Bluth blush (say that five times fast), calls home and sobs, validating how weirded out the other girls are by her constant mom-talk.
At judging panel, the changes to the format are readily apparent, as Bryanboy (I hate typing that) reads off comments from fans on the internet and the judges give their scores right away, eliminating the need for deliberation. Tyra gives Maria the look of death when she dares to give an unwarranted response to her critique. Jessie's low scores from the judges are worrisome, but perhaps her fan scores will be high enough to save her for another week. Gap-toothed Leila earns perfect 10s across the board from the judges -- she might be the real underdog this season. Snotty Kiara gets horrible comments from the fans, but the judges give her decent scores. The fans' comments really get to Brittany, but the harsh Kelly Cutrone softens the blow with a score of 9. Kristin, my least favorite, gets strong comments from fans and equally strong scores from the panel. Though Victoria seemed to perform well at the shoot and her fans like her photo, the judges don't seem as impressed... except for Tyra.
With the scores tallied, the best photo of the week goes to Leila. In the bottom are Jessie, Destiny, and Maria. With Maria safe, it's down to the two most interesting girls in the competition, and Destiny edges out Jessie by four points. It would have been disappointing to see either of them go, but there's another surprise: over the next six weeks, the eliminated girls will compete to return to the competition with a series of photo shoots. Let's bring Jessie back, you guys!