America's Next Top Model: What Happens In Vegas
Welcome Back, America!
So, this is a little disappointing. You know how I love the ridiculousness that is America’s Next Top Model, but we are clearly in for one of the worst seasons ever. Let’s hope I’m wrong. The good news is that someone knocked some sense into Tyra and the show’s budget went into relocating the casting special to Las Vegas, as opposed to bad sci-fi pyrotechnics. The bad news is that the decadent surroundings can’t make up for the duds the producers called back to casting.
And so – it’s Vegas, baby! 34 young women arrive at Caesar’s Palace, and boy, do they look young this year! Cycle 11 was only a few months ago, so I haven’t aged that much since then (or at all. Isn’t that right, America?). The oldest girl (Celia, 25 and dressed in a men’s suit) looks 19. The rest of them look 12. Sign number one that we’re in trouble this season.
So the girls arrive at Caesar’s, greeted by a row of male extras dressed as Roman gladiators. Because it’s Caesar’s Palace. Get it??? Just in case you don’t, there’s going to be a ton of other Roman references, so let’s run with it and just be happy that there’s no more Tyra-bot. The soldiers all want to die now and spare themselves the ridiculousness that is a bunch of screaming young women, but instead, they part to reveal the Jays. Scream!
Mr. and Miss (J)ay blather on about 34 finalists, one Top Model, and you have to prove you’re a Goddess to make it into the house. Or something. We all know what’s coming, so send the girls to wardrobe to change into cute little Romanesque dresses for their first photo shoot! Jay guides them through taking profile shots, then the girls walk the catwalk for Miss Jay. As expected, some fare better than others, and some think they have the fiercest walk ever. Which means, obviously, that they don’t.
Some introductions! Allison freaks everyone out with her crazy eyes, but not crazy eyes like Hootie. And yes, Allison’s eyes are definitely creepy. She claims to be awkward in social situations. As that is a prerequisite for this show, everyone at home watching yawns.
Angelea is from Buffalo, NY, and this isn’t Top Let’s Make Friends. She’s here to win, bitches, so that means no talking or laughing with the other girls. Sandra is the original Goddess. In case you didn’t know, that means she’s from Kenya by way of Maryland, and there isn’t one girl here who is competition. Oh, she’s so in the house. You can’t script this kind of ego.
Aminat has a gorgeous afro, and thinks that she and Tyra are going to be BFF’s. Monique is so awkward looking, I refuse to believe that her look can be translated into model-esque. I’m having a hard time believing that about Celia too, but Celia at least can control her facial expressions. Monique is “really into politics.” I naturally assume that she is a Young Republican or a fan of The West Wing, or speaks “liberal.” As it turns out, a lesson for all of us, is that “really into politics” actually means “conspiracy theorist.” No wonder the politicians in Washington, D.C., are always screwing up.
The Roman Gladiators return later that evening, escorting the Goddess herself, Ms. Tyra Banks, all done up in a period dress and yammering on about being the Goddess of Fierce for two thousand seven hundred fifty two point seven years, and striking a pose. It’s hard to believe this is better than the Tyra-bot, but trust me: it is. She talks, the girls scream, and I’m just glad Tyra’s back to long hair because that cut last cycle looked awful. Of note, Celia calls Tyra an extra-terrestrial (presumably as a compliment) and Sandra and Angelea learn that two people can’t occupy the same space at the same time, so they push each other a bit while striking a pose at Goddess Tyra’s command. The bitch-terviewing begins, as they badmouth each other to the camera. We haven’t even made it out of the casting special yet!
Interviews! Sandra cries in front of Tyra and the Jays, because she’s from Kenya, so, sure. Her words, not mine. She loves her chocolate-colored skin, and so does Tyra. London is a street preacher praising Jesus, aka “a model with a mission.” Miss J tells her she’s dressed like a street walker. Jessica is from Puerto Rico, and has never been called ugly in her life (or as Miss J says, not to her face, anyway).
Tahlia put off college to pursue modeling with ANTM (silly, girl), and delivers a heartfelt speech about being confident about your body. She is a burn victim, her body scarred from an accident from when she was a baby, and wants to represent burn victims everywhere. Still, she seems uncomfortable with the scrutiny.
Natalie comes from a wealthy family, and she chooses not to work. Ever. Kathryn is 18, a small town girl, and easily intimidated. Poor thing’s going to get crushed. She breaks into tears when the other girls gang up on her for complaining about wearing heels during the catwalk. She then delivers a bad first impression to Tyra and the Jays by talking about her pen collection. Yeah, that really happened.
Alex is from Tampa, Florida, and talks like she’s from Brooklyn, i.e. a tough girl. I like her. Isabella is a dead ringer for Leslie Bibb. She has epilepsy and is insanely cheerful. Nijah won Prom Queen, but you know Tyra can’t allow someone else to be Queen of Anything, so she talks about her own prom queen experience. Again, everyone at home yawns. Fo is a Blaxican with freckles. I expect an argument about race at some point in the season.
Angelea talks to the girls about her daughter, who passed away. In front of the judges, she talks about how she slept in the Port Authority during her ANTM callback. Tyra disapproves for safety reasons. That’s actually kind of smart. Wow, Tyra. Celia impresses the judges with her cute outfit and boundless twenty-five-year-old wisdom. Kortnie is this year’s plus-sized model, and an ex-girlfriend of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Racing fans hate her. I reserve judgment.
Miss J tells Allison she looks like the Bride of Chucky, which is funny, and funnier because she gets the joke and doesn’t take offense. She also thinks that nosebleeds are beautiful because she’s never had one. She has a really wicked, deadpan sense of humor. I hope she makes it. Teyona is a tomboy; Miss J thinks she looks like an alien, and Tyra thinks she looks like she’s stuck in a windtunnel. In a good way, of course.
First cut! The girls open boxes to see if they’ve received a golden laurel, which signifies passage to the next round. 21 survive! Next, it’s off to another photo shoot! The girls and their golden laurels must represent different goddesses.
Everyone tries their best, but who cares! The first catfight of the season dominates the shoot: Sandra picks a fight with Angelea, after the latter rolls her eyes at the former, and a ridiculous argument begins over nothing. The interesting thing is that when Sandra argues and gets fired up, she smiles more. It’s extremely unlikable. Jay eventually breaks up the fight, saying to Angelea, “You couldn’t just turn a blind eye? Really?” And he’s right, because how unprofessional. Way to ruin your audition, idiot. Unfortunately, Angelea will take all the blame, because we already know that Sandra’s a lock for this Cycle’s villain. Possibly as a result of the argument, Angelea performs poorly in the shoot.
Tyra and the Jays deliberate over the girls, and we have 13 finalists! Allison, Sandra, Aminat, London, Teyona, Kortnie, Fo, Isabella, Celia, Jessica, Tahlia, Natalie, and Nijah.
As usual, Tyra tells the other girls to never give up, as she’s now the Goddess of Wisdom. Goodbye, Angelea. You just couldn’t out-bitch Sandra. The finalists are headed to New York City and the Upper East Side! Represent, ladies!
Up next! The girls relocate to my ‘hood, and Sandra starts trouble!
P.S. Is it me, or are the Rihanna Cover Girl commercials creepy right now?
Season 12, Episode 1: What Happens in Vegas (originally aired March 4, 2009)
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Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW
Photographs courtesy of The CW