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'America's Next Top Model': Slidin' down the catwalk into a finale

May 13, 2009 |  9:37 pm

Teyona For an "America's Next Top Model" cycle that started off with a lot of spark and lighthearted promise, the finale lacked a little luster.  But why? Teyona Anderson and Allison Harvard are both beautiful in unique ways. Unfortunately, neither creates TV magic on her own, and the show's rigid formality has made the finales more rote than riveting.

As usual, for instance, the top three found out that they'd be shooting a CoverGirl commercial and photo and that the winner's ad would appear in Wal-Mart stores (the news of this made Allison look as if she wanted to cry).  As usual, the previous Top Model (McKey Sullivan, in this case, looking lovely) stopped by to give advice and pretend to be having an off-the-cuff conversation about how great CoverGirl's newest product is. 

The girls did look beautiful, Aminat Ayinde in red, Allison in a fluttery teal dress, Teyona rocking yellow effortlessly. Aminat was slightly underwhelming, as was Allison, but for her underwhelming was better than awkward. Teyona stumbled over her words and cried. Oh honey. If there is one thing you shouldn't do, it's to cry. Then the makeup people have to come back and everyone is waiting for you. Why didn't anyone give her this advice?  Finally, Teyona made it through a take before the girls had to face Tyra, who was dressed like an evil queen. 

The judges deliberated: the judges were impressed that Allison pulled off both the commercial and the shoot.  Aminat's commercial was OK but her film was just "wah-wah," plus she had all the potential but couldn't work her face well.  Tellingly, the judges didn't have too much to say about Teyona despite her meltdown. Despite the Brazilian judge saying Allison wouldn't be his pick for a fashion show, Aminat was sent packing and as usual Allison and Teyona would face off in a fashion show. Allison was nervous, but she had practiced her walk and "gotten over feeling lame," which is a feeling we all should aspire to. 

Each season the producers try and up the ante on the fashion show with some silly gimmick like having it be on a hill or over a swimming pool or something. This was the first time, though, that the show felt rather second-rate and unprofessional. The first part of the show was a copy of a Victoria's Secret event, with the girls modeling swimsuits and wearing big feathered wings (plus over-the-top makeup that didn't seem to correspond at all with the rest of the look). Both girls performed adequately (that meaning, again, that Allison was surprisingly competent). Then, in what must have been a very long break, the girls changed into brand-new big costumes, this time with headpieces, and sambaed down the aisle.  Finally, after another pause for serious restyling, and seemingly unconnected to the other two parts of the show, the girls were covered in grime and oil and had to slither down the aisle on their hands and knees.  Allison said that it resembled an art installation, but it was more like a scene from a creepy '60s sex play. Teyona's fake ponytail fell off and, rather than freak out about it, she whipped it in the air -- which would have been cool if a.) this hadn't been done already on "RuPaul's Drag Race") and b.) the wig weren't still sort of connected to her head by an icky-looking thread.  But the girls "walked" the catwalk well in that case, I suppose. 

Because Allison and Teyona had modeled bikinis during the fashion show, they naturally had to wear them during judges' final panel, and it looked chilly. The girls always have the best makeup during the last judging, and Allison looked amazing with smoky eyes. The judges deliberated, and were wowed by Allison's improvement, but felt Teyona had wanted it more, and lo Teyona is our next Top Model. 

I'm not worried about Allison, though. I had heard of her as "Creepy Chan" online before the cycle even started, so I have a feeling we'll hear from her more in the future.

— Claire Zulkey

(art: the CW)

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