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'America's Next Top Model' recap: Models flambé

March 17, 2011 |  5:00 am


Yegads, Tyra! ‘America’s Next Top Model’ has never been a show that’s cautious about its contestants' comfort level, but literally setting the models on fire? It seems like those Tyra Mails have gotten less figurative and more literal every week. Poor Jackly thought that someone’s career “going up in flames” meant that she might get to pose with firefighters. No such luck, ladies. 

Of course, it wasn’t just Tyra letting loose her inner arsonist. No, no, there was an excuse for all that hazardous behavior. You see, the runway was for Lady Gaga’s designer sweetheart, Geoffrey Mac, so things had to get a little absurd. (We should count ourselves lucky that the challenge wasn’t to model meat tuxedos.) And, yes, the fire was contained to their hands—gloves, in fact—which were coated with a fire-containing material of some kind. But when the (metal!) runway beneath them was set alight, it still seemed like some folks were about to get sautéed. As Sara winningly put it, “What if I want to be a hand model someday?”

Luckily, no one lost any of their limbs, and some of the models looked seriously awesome doing it. Dalya, who won the challenge, is coming out as a force to be reckoned with on the runway challenges, though her photos can still use work. Sara, Kasia, and Hannah—who were the worst at handling the, ahem, heat—had to walk back to their place. 

It’s pretty unusual for ‘ANTM’ to do a commercial shoot this early in the season, but I thought it was a good move. The ‘Mad Men’ rip-off for “Fierce Roast coffee” was far more interesting than the normal Covergirl close-ups—except for maybe last cycle’s skating wipe-outs—and it gave a few of the girls time to shine. (Plus, it involved the ever-adorable Francesco Carrozzini.) Kasia, for example, totally lucked out: Her “fiercely real” stature was exactly the look for the commercial, and she worked it to her advantage. I was glad to see her nab top picture after her lackluster performance last week. Hanna also recovered from her runway pouting to do a pretty solid job, but Molly—despite having her weave redone and looking a dead ringer for January Jones—was mediocre. I thought that Brittani did a better job than the judges gave her credit for, but in the end she just barely eeked past the bottom two. 

Poor Sara was not so lucky. She began this week shaken, and it all went downhill. Part of her discomfort was with the idea of the “Mad Men” spoof itself: “I’m embarrassed to have my femcore friends see this,” she explained, worrying that acting the role of a Joan Holloway type might work against her feminist beliefs. Her stress showed in her shoot, and she landed in the bottom along with Alexandria. 

Oh, Alexandria. It’s only been four episodes and you’re already the girl we love to hate. This week, she wanted to have every person’s job on set—a problem known as James Franco syndrome—and went around micromanaging everyone from the director to the gaffers. I haven’t heard the term “attitude problem” so much since the ‘90s. Her commercial bordered on softcore porn, and Tyra was less than pleased. But in the end, she declared, “Confidence wins.” And out goes Sara. I’m disappointed to lose her--as was Tyra, in a surprisingly moving way--but glad to keep Alexandria in the house, against my better judgement. At least we know things won’t be boring. 

--Margaret Eby

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 Photo: Mikaela braves the heat on the fire runway challenge

Credit Jaimie Trueblood/The CW