In the past, America’s Next Top Model has experimented with themes -- say, short girls, or high-fashion contenders. It may seem that Cycle 16 of America’s Next Top Model has no common thread. Not so. Wise observers have taken a long, lingering look at this cycle’s contenders and declared the theme to be Skanks; however, to be fair, the fault may lie with the powerful cake eyeliner lobby that has apparently bought and paid for the show’s stylists.
Or maybe it’s the It’s Really All About Me Me Me Me TYRA Season, because for the first two minutes, that’s what we’re seeing: Tyra dressing up and saying stuff and channeling an Ashton Kutcher show from 2003.
Thankfully, the rest of this cycle’s format isn’t so agonizing. Before we can even get to the season’s initial shriekfest, we learn that Tya already has chosen the 14 finalists, including several token girls. (You know: Petite. Fat. Freckly.)
Now we get the shriekfest as the 14 are fake rejected by Tyra and then allowed into the next Top Model house.
Oh mah god,” a self-described babyfaced model named Jaclyn declares. “They tricked us.”
Welcome to reality television the modeling industry!
Brittani has arrived at the Top Model house via trailer park. Mikaela has a pair of massive Michelle Forbes eyebrows that could slice through an eight-mile swath of South American rain forest. Kasia is the token chub; she also has a past photo spread under her slightly wider belt, which means Tyra will be seeking more from her. Alexandria has blond hair with a bossy head underneath. Molly is a self-professed competitive band geek. Angelia looks like the Lost Kardashian. Hannah has a talent for applying liquid eyeliner that should not be underestimated. Dominique, the freckly girl, also specializes in math; she notices there are two few beds in the house and, ergo, the equation will soon involve a double elimination. Seriously, they could just eliminate Mikaela eyebrows and there would be plenty of room.
Challenge No. 1 arrives, courtesy of model-turned-jewelry-designer Erin Wasson. An Alexander Wang fashion show is in the offing (eeeeee!), along with a backstage photo shoot by Victoria’s Secret lensman Russell James (eeeee!) and they’re all going to be decked out in Wasson’s jewelry (much smaller eeeeee!).
And oh: The runway is only a foot wide, and every girl must walk said runway in a big bubble.
“What if ah cain’t get it open and ah am stuck in that bubble for the rest of mah life?” Jaclyn posits. Like that went through mah head a million times.” Sweetie, why are you worrying? You already have a bubble. It’s on top of your shoulders.
The bubble walk begins. A stunner named Ondrei, sort of a younger Oluchi, falls off the runway and floats along the pool, but she looks very lucrative while doing so. Ditto with Dominique, who also falls, a bit less prettily. This season’s awkward androgynous girl, Sara, is deemed awkward in the eyes of the Jays. The trailer park girl, Brittani, appears to do the best.
A TyraMail awaits the girls back at home. And it’s one of those mails with a skull on it, which means that dreaded elimination. But is it the double elimination that Dominique calculated?
Who cares? Tyra is wearing a tee with Andre Leon Talley’s face on it. Erin Wasson, Nigel Barker and Talley are all there too. The usual high-fash prizes are announced.
Alexandria is critiqued first, and it is a positive critique.
“There’s something really beautifully raw about it,” Wasson raves.
Dalya has a fine profile but needs a bit of coaching. Nicole offers a dramatic shot, which would be nice if she didn’t photograph 15 years older than she is, and if she didn’t have a mouth like, per Nigel, “cat’s bottom.”
Sara is compared to a “19-year-old boy with makeup on,” but, you know, in a good way! Li’l Oluchi looks just fab.
Angelia hides too much behind her hair.
“I don’t see a model,” Tyra declares.
Hannah pops out of her photo, even though she is surrounded by other girls. Kasia has no personality in her shot. (By the way: She’s not fat. She’s “fiercely real,” per Tyra.) Monique Kardashian and Mikaela and her brows all come out fine, but Dominique just disappears.
Jaclyn? Stunning. But only in one shot. Molly flips her hair like Willow Smith, gurl. And lastly, there’s Brittani, who stands out beyond all the rest -- while having her eyelid flipped open by a makeup artist.
“You look hot,” she is told.
But will she look hot at home or in the Top Model house?
The callout: Molly, Brittani, Alexandria, Mikaela, Dalya, Hannah, Ondrei, Monique, Nicole, Kasia, Jaclyn, Sara.
Bottom two: Angelia, Dominique. And Angelia is sent home for having no personality.
By our calculation, doesn’t that mean one girl still doesn’t have a bed tonight?