'America's Next Top Model' recap: Eels and pearls
It’s official: No ‘Top Model’ challenge is complete without the possibility of a contestant vomiting from fear or nausea. This week’s episode offered one of the most impossible-sounding photo shoots yet, and that was only in the first 15 minutes. The ladies, fresh off an awkward barbeque with the male models they'd met on a previous challenge, arrived at Knott’s Berry Farm, a historical theme park. There, the effervescent Ms. Jay, rockin’ a high bun and Frida Kahlo eyebrows, and the ever-waxy Nigel Barker informed the models that they would have to pose attractively while on a roller coaster.
From personal experience, I know that looking attractive on one of those ride photos is a ludicrous goal. Almost without fail, pictures taken on roller coasters fall into two categories: either they’re mid-screaming photos where it looks like your uvula is about to pop out or they display neck/chin wrinkles worthy of a basset hound in a g-force simulator. And, to top it all off, each model had to illustrate an emotion in her frame.
Predictably, this ended badly. Most of the contestants looked like they were popping Quaaludes in a wind machine, except for Chris, whose hysterical crying placed her squarely in the uvula-baring camp. As Nigel quipped to Chelsey—who was supposed to look secretive—“Chelsey, it looks like your secret is that you don’t have teeth.” Even perennial favorite Ann flopped, looking, in Ms. Jay’s estimation, “like an iguana.” Liz won, basically because she was the only one who forced a smile.
The prize for Liz—and her selected friends, Kayla and Chris—was a photo session with Tyra, culminating in an incredibly awkward tea party in which Tyra dished out advice and crammed herself full of carrot cake. Highlights included Tyra “pouring one out for the homies” with Earl Grey instead of Colt 45 and Liz acting resentful about Tyra eating all the nibbles. Back at the house, Lexie and Kacey were fighting over pretty much nothing, but it looks like Kacey is shaping up to be the villain. She’s already pulling the whole “I’m real and all you bitches are fake!” thing, and it’s only week 4.
For the big photo shoot, the ladies had to model luxe jewelry while being directed by Andy Warhol protégé Matthew Rolston. Oh yeah, and they were being shot from beneath a panel of water. And had to wear outfits festooned by dead sea creatures. There’s nothing quite like seeing a woman draped with diamonds and then hearing Mr. Jay ask “Where’s the eel?” Some of the photos were strikingly beautiful, in a real-life ‘Little Mermaid’ way, but mostly the result was like a combined nightmare of Jacques Cousteau and Hubert de Givenchy.
At elimination time, Ann took home the best photo once again. That’s sure to cause some resentment in the house later, since a few of the ladies had already been complaining. Chelsey escaped the bottom two by a hair, but I’m not sure how much longer she has—Tyra pronounced her photo as “amateur drag queen.” (Ouch!) Esther was unexpectedly great this week, and deserved the “young Elizabeth Taylor” label Andre Leon Talley bestowed upon her.
At the bottom were Rhianna and Liz—she of the bizarre hats against she of the sorry attitude. I could have sworn that Tyra was going to send Liz packing (anytime they show a picture of your family at the top of an episode, it’s a bad sign). After all, hats trump diva-tude every time in the ANTM book. But Rhianna got the axe and Liz stays to annoy Ms. Jay another day. But she’s a straggler—I’d be surprised to see her last the next few eliminations.
Tyra Weave Watch: A very reasonable blue during her photography stint, and then a jump back to orange at the judge’s table. Did she just wear the same pink, one-shoulder outfit for two episodes in a row?
Best/creepiest Tyra line: Her instructions to Kayla while taking photographs: “Look like a little boy, like a little bad boy.”
Honorable Mentions: "I am trying so hard not to throw up"--Lexie
"What is this? This looks very moist." --Tyra, mouth full of tea cakes
Photo: From left: Chris, Kayla, Liz, and Tyra Banks sit down to tea. Credit: Patrick Wymore/The CW