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America's Next Top Model Review: Forty-Five Minutes of Airtime Fulfilled

The ANTM gods are prolonging the inevitable.  Usually once only three girls are left in the competition, the last episode consists of the Cover Girl commercial and photo shoot, an elimination mid-episode, a stomp to the death in a (fill in the blank) fashion show, and the long-awaited announcement of “America’s Next Top Model.”  It’s been that way since Cycle 3 when the competition was down to Eva, Yaya and Amanda.  However, exerting their sovereignty from cutting out Casting Week to adding another week of elimination, the ANTM gods chose, once again, to shake up this cycle’s format.

With only three girls left and not a lot of competition footage to fill up the forty-five minutes, the episode began with house footage and interviews of the girls reflecting on how they’re different from one another and why they deserve to remain in the competition over one of the other girls.  Finally, Mr. Jay Manuel arrived at the Top Model house with three envelopes in hand and “a special news announcement from Hollywood.”  Lara Spencer, host of The Insider, gave the girls the “scoop” for their next challenge.  Each of the girls was to choose one of three fashion or beauty trends in Morocco: argan oil, black kohl, and henna.  Then they were to report it back to The Insider in a live shot.  They had one hour to research, write up their questions, and to interview experts and anyone else with the necessary experience.  Finally, they were to fill 90 seconds with continuous air time. The winner will have her live shot air on theinsider.com.  Once they hit the streets, one of their additional unmentioned challenges was finding someone who spoke English on top of being an expert and experienced in the fashion or beauty trend.  Back at the Top Model house, the models, along with Jay Manuel, watched each of their live shots.  Brittani, although she found an expert on henna, not only did not allow the expert to speak, but she wasted air time by having the camera person follow her through the shop and out into the streets to the experienced henna user, who did not speak English and only nodded and answered yes to all of her questions.  Although she sounded like a professional reporter during her piece on black kohl, Molly was unable to find an experienced black kohl user who spoke English; however, she was savvy enough to use her expert to translate.  Then, she had another expert demonstrate how to use and apply black kohl to the eyes to create a “smize.”  Reporting on argan oil, Hannah, the only model to have studied broadcast journalism, also added a little ANTM terminology, but she did not use her guests to the utmost and she went over her allotted minutes.  Therefore, the clear winner of the challenge: Molly.

After the challenge, Tyra popped by the house and had a how-are-you-feeling and break-out-the-tissues moment with the girls.  Molly opened up on how during the acting challenge (weeks ago) she felt remorseful for rebelling against her adoptive parents when they were only trying to love her.  After consoling Molly, Tyra moved back to the other couch to pat the back of Brittani as she shed tears over her insecurities during her childhood.  After the waterworks, Tyra moved the girls outside, and after smudging black chalk over their eyes and grease in their hair, she shot the girls although it wasn’t her traditional location photo shoot that she does every cycle.   Lastly, she taught them how to micro-model and do isolated movements as she led them onto their rooftop where traditional Moroccan men were playing music and dancing.  There they filled up more air time and danced away a few of their cares and inhibitions before the next photo shoot and elimination.

The Moroccan coastline served as the setting for this week’s photo shoot where Nigel Barker would be their photographer yet again, and where the girls would be modeling Moroccan wedding gowns and working with male model Younes Tazi.  Having never worked with a male model, Molly did not make a connection to Younes, according to Jay Manuel.  Hannah, who tried to portray the image of simultaneously wanting to pull away and to stay, “lost her pretty,” according to Nigel.  Brittani wanted her narrative to be that she is second guessing getting married.  However, she came off “disdainful” in her shoot and shed tears after Jay corrected her, which actually helped her final shots, although Nigel noted that instead of crying all the time she needs to pull from within in order to get a good shot.

Joining Tyra, Nigel, and Andre Leon Talley was Ivan Bart, senior Vice-President of IMG Models, who also served as guest judge.  Being so taken with the photos (and to eat up more air time), Tyra chose two photos from each girl’s shoot to critique.  While Brittani emoted energy and delicacy and showed off the gown in her first photo, she was shown crying in the second photo, although it was still beautiful.  Hannah sang a “swan song,” which turned Andre Leon Tally off, as she discussed how her emotions were her strength, although Nigel slightly disagreed.  In the second photo, while the judges usually love a pointed-toe and tout the girl who models h(ead)-to-t(oe), Andre criticized Hannah for pointing her toe and trying to show off an “invisible high heel.”  However, immediately thereafter, Andre contradicted himself and praised Molly for her pointed toe while never explaining why one worked and the other did not.  In the second photo, Nigel also praised Molly for her ability to lead him, the photographer, in a photographic “dance” in her shoot.

After the judges’ deliberation, Molly, who had the top photo yet again, and Brittani, who Nigel said he did not enjoy shooting although previous photographers did, rounded out the top two finalists who will walk in a Vivienne Westwood Fashion Show.

Cycle 16, Episode 11: “Ivan Bart” (originally aired May 11, 2011)

Don’t miss the season finale of America’s Next Top Model next Wednesday, May 18, at 8/7c on The CW.

To look at this episode from another angle, check out “If You’re Not First, You’re Last” by Desiree Neall.

Images courtesy of The CW

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