'America's Next Top Model': Magical transformations (or not)
I wish every episode of "America's Next Top Model" was the makeover episode. I don't believe that anyone will try to argue that there is a finer episode per "Top Model" cycle. What's more fun than playing "Better or worse?" with each girl? Marjorie Conrad, for instance, looks darling with dark hair, whereas Clark Gilmer's new brunette 'do made her look rather average (and played up how mean she sometimes looks). Plus, one girl always cries and most of the time you can tell it's going to be the worst person on the show. Elina Ivanova, she of such love for animals and hatred for her mother, broke down and wept when she was given a curly red style, which, as Tyra promised, did make the girl look ethnically vague. Elina is going to be the girl who everyone has a strong opinion of on this cycle: She's clearly lovely, but she has a personality that you either love or hate on reality TV. You'd think a girl who enjoyed turning straight girls bi-curious wouldn't have a problem with changing her hairdo, but there you go.
Tyra seems like she has some extra time on her hands this cycle or something, as she seems more hands-on, and, well, ready to play. Literally, like a child. She threw the girls a "princess party" including pizza (which all models eat constantly as we all know) to tell them briefly about how she became a Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated model instead of a high-fashion one. This then segued into a highly pertinent and necessary "Snow White" fantasy that basically served to kill time before the makeovers started. I liked that we only saw a few cuts of Jay Manuel picking up his Snow White.
Between the playacting, the makeovers, the Wal-Mart challenge and the swimsuit photo shoot, it was a busy episode, which is good. I'd rather take the fluff than the show's sporadic attempts to make us aware of homelessness or voting or smoking or something. It wasn't a perfect episode, however, as I think Analeigh Tipton is not nearly as model-beautiful as Brittany Rubalcaba, who got eliminated, but what can you do. If it weren't for that, I probably would have sworn I was living in a fairy tale.
-- Claire Zulkey
(Elina photo courtesy The CW)