Recap: 'America's Next Top Model' Cycle 12 premiere
Eeeee! Scream, girls, scream, you’re on reality television and the producers say screeeeaaaam. Scream, headband girl!
It’s season 12, and top to pick another top twig; among the initial 34 girls, we have an “African goddess,” a freckly hippie, a girl who thinks she’s going to be Tyra’s BFF and several fading blondes whose wispy locks definitely won’t survive the makeover episode -- that is, if they even survive this two-hour opener. First task:
Dress as a goddess outside of Caesars Palace in Vegas and walk on a pretend cloud. Weeeew! Oh look! Centurions from central casting! Tyra dressed as an even goddessier goddess. Or, as Celia gushes, “an entity!” That’s it. Intros over. Time to meet the new girls individually in the panel judging room.
[More from Wednesday's (March 4) "America's Next Top Model" premiere after the break...]
Kenyan Sandra wastes no time melting down from a confident London-style beauty to a weeping girl, but that strut is going to be hard to beat this season. There’s also a girl named London who dresses in ripped tights and preaches the word of Jesus on the weekends; Monique, a paranoiac redhead who rants about the rich “elites” between killer poses; and Natalie, likely poised for battle with Monique just because she’s never worked a day in her life. The requisite Latina who “represents” this season is named Jessica, and of course we ha-- HOLY CRAP. A burn survivor on Top Model. Tahlia, you work, it girl.
Aminat is next. Mmm mmm mmm. Six one with a ‘fro that takes her higher; I hope that her confidence doesn’t send anxiety case-slash-pen collector Kathryn into a panic attack. Blond Alex is next and has great potential -- as a sociopath. Yes, Miss Hard Times, you came up from the ghetto and people will step to you, etc. etc. Just go find someone to bully already. I recommend London the preacher.
Isabella is an epileptic. Nijah can dance, which is nice. Fo calls herself a Blaxican and loves her freckles. So do I, and so, more importantly, do giant skin care companies who pay models millions of dollars.
There’s always a girl who looks like a man, baby. This cycle it’s Angelea, she of the turquoise plastic nails and drugstore wig. She says she slept for two days at the New York Post Authority during Top Model callbacks. Kortnie is our token fat girl this season and we’re rooting for her already; she channels the Glamazon models of the Duran Duran 1980s.
Here’s our first truly bizarre moment. Wall-eyed Allison is obsessed with blood and nosebleeds. She’ll certainly have a front-row seat when the catfights start.
The first elimination round lets girls discover their status through the awarding of golden wreaths. Praise Jesus, London gets one. So does our fat girl, the burn victim, the anxiety case, the blood fiend and Miss Port Authority. The paranoiac doesn’t make it, and neither does Miss Hard Times, but Freckly Fo and a menswear fan named Celia -- whose blond beauty is almost fairylike -- both make the cut.
Now it’s time to whittle it down to our final 13. The first photo shoot has our contestants channeling different goddesses, including justice and strength. Miss Port Authority duly starts our first feud of the season, with African Goddess Sandra, who zeroes in on her new enemy’s “ugly” toes. The argument throws Miss Port Authority, and Mr. Jay Manuel seems unimpressed by her interpretation of the goddess of love.
During the first judges’ deliberation, Tyra dons a headband and declares her love for a girl named Isabella, a girl so cute that Tyra wants to “buy cornflakes from her.” Fo apparently is short, which is almost as bad as being fat, but the judges send her on through to the next round anyway. The ravishing brunette model Jessica has breathtaking skin and is dubbed as the prettiest girl in the competition by far.
And then, just like that, the final 13 are crowned. Aminat the ‘Fro is called first. So is Natalie, whose brows channel an early Madonna; Fo; wall-eyed Allison; burn victim Tahlia; Celia the menswear fairy; and the dancing African American skyscraper Nijah. London thanks Jesus over and over after being picked, followed by the “alien”-like Teyona; the token fat girl Kortnie; epileptic Isabella; that stunning contender Jessica; and Sandra, the African Queen. Poor Miss Port Authority. But really. You’re a man, baby.
Ready for part two of our first episode? Depends. Can I light London’s ripped tights on fire?
The final 13 move into a house in New York City’s upper east side. A visit to the Empire State Building reveals that Fo is afraid of heights. Let’s hope there’s a photo shoot involving a high wire in our near future. Celia is handed the keys to the chic, black-and-white Top Model house, and is told that she can choose the first bed. That means she gets to oust Sandra from her preferred bed. Sandra fans herself, she’s so pissed.
London takes a look at Isabella’s stash of epilepsy medicine -- three months’ worth, of course -- and declares, “What is GOING ON in this girl’s LIFE?” But just when she starts to look like a brat, she saves the day; there are only 12 beds, and London volunteers to sleep on the floor, defusing the potential Celia/Sandra hot war over sleeping arrangements.
The first photo shoot brings out Laura Poretsky of the label Abaete. More squealing as we learn that this shoot will involve “good girls and bad girls ... and naughtiness,” in Poretsky’s words. Tahlia’s assigned outfit sends an early wake-up call to the burn victim model: her competitors are in skimpy clothes, but she is buried in a suit. “I’m hiding something ... that should be accepted around the world,” she says. But will it be accepted by the fashion industry?
Aminat offers a killer bad girl walk. But how will the strobe lights affect Isabella’s epilepsy? Not at all of course. But she does fade into the background, making for an unmemorable and bland performance. Jessica just cannot do any wrong with her good-girl walk, but judge Paulina Porizkova seems unimpressed by Tahlia and her suit. “I’m gonna get all you bitches at judging,” Miss J declares. Miss J, can you please do something about London’s tights?
Back at the house, Sandra decides that no one else should have a conversation whilst the African Queen is sleeping, telling the others to “shut up” and causing Isabella to dub her a “conflicting force” in the house. But before another eruption can happen, it’s time for a second photo shoot, this one in Central Park. The girls are dolled up like little girls and are ordered to frolic for cameras.
Tahlia reveals a second weakness at this point: a stiff, overthinking and stilted modeling style. As for Sandra, she needs to work on her tense shoulders as well as her attitude. And here’s a shocker: Allison can’t double dutch. But those wall eyes work great in front of a lens.
The judge begins apace. Sandra the African Queen is dressed down for a lame photo shoot that in no way evokes hide-and-seek. Fairielike Celia is looking like a early standout thanks to a playful hula-hoop shoot. Oooh. Here comes my girl crush Jessica. The judges didn’t like what she did with jacks. Jacks? Please! Look at that skin! Isabella simply lacks any kind of clue what to do with dodge ball.
Tahlia makes a thoughtful and intelligent argument for keeping her on in the competition: She’s learning what the industry wants as she goes.
So, whom do we cut, the foundering, mean Sandra? Wonky London?
The best photo of the night comes from wall-eyed Allison, who just might be a real model. Sandra and Isabella are rightly put in the bottom two, but it’s bland Isabella who is sent packing. Sandra, whose face is much more stunning than Isabella, apologizes for being less than queenly. We’ll see if that translates into a nicer attitude toward her housemates next week.