'America's Next Top Model: British Invasion' Recap: Hello Kitty, Goodbye Sanity
'America's Next Top Model: British Invasion' Recap: Hello Kitty, Goodbye Sanity
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
I'd be exhibiting the TV recapper's form of tunnel vision if I didn't address the "big" Top Model news of the week: That, shockingly to us but apparently not so much to them, after this cycle Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel and Miss J will no longer be a part of the show. Yes, Tyra's two right-hand gays and one left-hand Brit got the HR equivalent of her infamous elimination speech. And it went a little something like, "I only have one contract in my hands, that that contract belongs to ... Kelly Cutrone." Ugh, Kelly Cutrone. If I could ask Nigel anything, it would be how he feels to know that she was deemed more essential to the judging panel than he was.

Except I'm sure Nigel knows, just like we know, that this decision has nothing to do with what's "essential," in the truest sense, to Top Model. If Tyra made decisions that way, she would be more committed to making her modeling show more modeling centric. And she would NOT have done away with the three (well, two, and to a slightly lesser extent, Nigel) most appealing, most fabulous, most entertaining mainstays on her show. She claims that she fired her main men because the show needs a "new boost." That's like saying your house needs a spring cleaning, and then driving your car through the front door.

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Obviously, Tyra and the CW decided that the show's ratings are too low for how much it costs to make (which, according to the current production value on screen, can't be more than $200 an episode), so they'd do away with the three biggest paycheck-getters (besides Tyra, of course), and use that as an opportunity to try something "different" in one last attempt to get a ratings bump. All the gimmicky themed cycles don't seem to be doing it, so it's worth a shot, they probably think. Maybe they think they're like The X Factor, and that whoever they get to replace Nigel and the Jays will draw new interest. But right now, they're just turning off the viewers they do have. And unless they get some REALLY good replacements, and unless the staff changes are also accompanied by a renewed focus on the purported point of the show, which is NOT called America's Next Top Brand, or America's Next Top Toocher, or America's Next Top Gimmicky Whatever, it's not going to happen.

So ... it's not going to happen. I'll watch because it's my job to, but ask yourself: Why should YOU watch ANTM next season? Yes, you should probably wait to decide until you hear who will replace Nigel and the Jays, but what single judge/photoshoot director/runway coach could possibly change the show's overwhelming downward spiral? Like gravity, you can fight the inevitable, but you won't win. Besides, the CW can't afford the kind of big name you'll want. Tyra's ego can't afford to bring on a big name who would outshine her, and her priority clearly isn't on fashion anymore. Nor is it on bringing in engaging, fun-to-watch personalities. Just look at her latest judging panel addition.

I'm sad to see Nigel and the Jays go because their absence will mean that Tyra has now stripped away the final remaining remnant of the original America's Next Top Model. (Again, besides herself, which I think most of us can agree should have gone away long ago, if she weren't the creator, host and executive producer.) Weirdly, I'm not sad to see them go because, as some fans have been saying, they are the very fabric of the series and everything will be different without them. That might have been true a couple years ago, but Tyra's been marginalizing all three men -- Miss J especially -- for several cycles now, so she could bring on her forgettable slew of semi-famous guest stars and photographers and seem more elite and well-connected. When was the last time we even saw Miss J?

That's probably why none of them -- Nigel, Mister Jay or Miss J -- seem very sad or angry to go. I'm sure they'll miss the money, but do you really think they'll miss working on an ancient reality show that, when it ought to be enjoying its golden years with a large, die-hard audience a la Amazing Race, The Bachelor and Survivor, is doing everything it possibly can to piss off the few remaining, forgiving viewers it still has? Working with a woman who thinks "tooching" is A) a real thing and B) integral to the fashion world? Working for a woman who treats them less like co-stars and more like interchangeable accessories in her closet? If anything, I'm sure it's a relief for them. A chance to finally add something slightly less embarrassing to their Wikipedia pages. It's clearly only getting more embarrassing to watch.

But on the brighter side, it's still a hoot to recap. And with that ... On to the episode.

Sophie deservedly got best photo last week, and she's adorably thrilled when she arrives home and opens her positive reinforcement prize for the Brits. Seymone pouts, which is the other of her two modes, besides "asleep."

Alisha is really growing on me, which is why it worries me that she's once again in the bottom two, and heard Top Model's version of a death knell: "commercial." In this case, Tyra means she should maybe be acting in commercials, not necessarily modeling for JCPenney. Still, it stings. Let's hope Alisha harnesses her appealing no-nonsense energy to save her own ass once again. In tonight's first segment, we hear her mention that both of her parents have three jobs, so she's either tonight's winner or loser. Those kind of sad stories only get airtime when it's time for a girl to hit her peak or get thrown into a ditch.

Noted PR weasel Martin McBitchyHobbit shows up on their TV screen, and reveals that the girls are going on a casting for a "very important event" (that's helpful), so he has some reminders for each of them. So Martin goes around the room and reminds the girls of the vague personality flaws and irreparable weaknesses they each need to mask when auditioning as a human clothes hanger. That oughta help them look pretty with confidence!

The Challenge: Catwalk Contest

Kelly "Ugh" Cutrone greets the girls in her most dowdy funeral garb to tell them that they're auditioning for a runway show at an award show called the "Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize." The casting will include the founders of Marchesa, among other fashion elite. And the winner of the challenge gets to spend two nights at one of the Dorchester Hotels. Another half-assed prize. Yes, they're five-star hotels, but obviously you'd want to go to the ones in Geneva, Paris or Milan, and I didn't hear anything about including air fare. 

So the girls take turns walking for the designers in various elegant smocks and frocks. Catherine wanted to prove herself, but she stumbles out of nervousness. OH NO! The poor thing beats herself up about it so Kelly doesn't have to. Kelly says Eboni looked like a "robot on Oxycontin" on the runway, which MIGHT be funny if that meant anything.

Designer Siki Im has them modeling a menswear collection, which is odd, and none of them really walk like a "slayer," which is Kelly's special word for a memorable model. She gathers the girls and singles each of them out for being a unique brand of terrible. I mean ... she's got a point, but what she don't got is tact.

Seymone hears "your walk isn't working" from Kelly, and immediately gets frustrated, defensive and annoying about her terrible walk. She's working on it! Get off her back! The other girls look around at each other like, "woof. This again." I hope Seymone is gone this week -- and it seems like Seymone hopes so, too.

Alisha, Annaliese and Sophie are the only three to get picked to open the shows -- Sophie's chosen by two of the four designers -- but the rest of the girls get the consolation prize of also walking in the shows. So everything was pointless, except that only those three girls have the chance to win a TWO NIGHT STAY at a hotel. OooooOOooooh! The designers, including Georgina Chapman, come in and give the models tips about looking pretty and walking well. Like, "Be confident." Somehow, they always act like this is new and inspiring advice.

Then it's time for the show! Sophie does "the Sophie strut," and gets rave reviews from her designers. "I believe she can be a world-class model," Siki Im says. Can you say "winner's edit"? Annaliese looks fierce in her show. She has such presence that it's hard to believe she's only 5'7''. But if there's one thing Alisha was built for, it's walking. While holding a rat cage as a purse. It's called FASHION, you guys.

-america-s-next-top--1-alisha-runway.jpg
Alisha's designers win the big prize, and she immediately concludes, "I must have had some effect on that decision." Yes, I'm sure hiring a girl from a reality show totally sealed the deal on whether that designer's clothing won a prize. I'm sure that the winner wasn't at all decided beforehand, with $40,000 and an engraved trophy at stake.

Whatever, Alisha won the challenge! Yay Alisha!

Photo Shoot: Hellooooo, Kitty!

They're modeling "couture" made entirely of Hello Kitty memorabilia. In front of a Hello Kitty backdrop. It's a Hello Kitty extravaganza. It doesn't need to have a point beyond that. It's just fun to look at. Wanna know what it would look like if you were a human magnet in Japan? This:

-america-s-next-top--2-laurahk.jpgIn the photo shoot, Catherine looks regal, says Jay. Alisha is commanding. Sophie looks queenly and adorable, though the photographer says she didn't have a "clear idea" of how to model her uncomfortable collection of Pez dispensers and head diapers. Annaliese has a wicker tray on her head, and she is "flowing," raves the photographer.

Seymone looks like someone vandalized Aretha Franklin's wax statue at Maddam Tussaud's.

seymoneelvis.jpgAnd Aretha AIN'T HAPPY to have all those Hello Kitty gum wrappers and pencil erasers stuck to her! Seymone bitches that her Elvis headpiece -- which looks like Elvis's hair, and also looks like the size Elvis was when he died -- is too heavy, and she wants to throw it across the parking lot.

Laura's outfit is awesome, but heavy. She doesn't complain as much as Seymone did though, because that would be impossible. Eboni looks lost and confused. Jay says "make a shape," and she shakes her foot like, "Ehhh?" He says, "The judges are going to tear her alive. That was terrible." Oh, you saucy, silver-haired Jay. Our Tin Man with the sharp tongue. I'll miss you most of all.

Sophie says that instead of "30 Never," Eboni looked like "50 Forever." Haha, that's a good one. Still, it seems clear that Seymone's going to be hearing "Goodbye, Kitty" from Tyra.

Judging

Tyra greets the girls with a "hello ... kitty," and HER GIRLS are out to play today. By girls, I mean boobs. Georgina Chapman is the guest judge.


Seymone:
Nigel calls it "Modeling 101." Kelly says she looks like "a hitchhiker in Hello Kitty Land who got left."

Laura: Nigel is like, "You like to bend, huh?" Tyra tells a pointless story of how she was jealous of her childhood friend for having Hello Kitty everything. She still sounds jealous. And a little crazy over it! Maybe Tyra's bottomless well of jealousy over those toys is what's motivated all of her success? It's gotta be something as dumb as that.

Eboni: She's not doing anything at all in the photo, especially not being "30 Never," and the judges notice.

Catherine: Kelly compares her face to Linda Blair in The Exorcist. As we've learned, most of the time Kelly just says stuff. She's probably high on Oxycontin.

Alisha: The judges LOVE it. Nigel says it's her best photo yet. Georgina compares her to Grace Jones. Yeeeeah, Alisha! The comeback kid!

Sophie: The silhouette is lovely, and her expression is slightly "off," but that's what Georgina loves about it.

Annaliese: Nigel loves the pose, but not the face. It looks "awkward." But Georgina likes the deadness in the face, and Tyra agrees.  Georgina even says that she would put it in a Marchesa look book. You know. If Marchesa made costumes inspired by Japanese fetishist fever dreams.

TYRA ACTUALLY SAYS, "When you come back, I will announce which one of you is not a Hello Kitty, but a Bye-Bye Kitty." Yes, we all knew it was gonna happen, but that doesn't make it less embarrassing.

In deliberation, Kelly rips on Catherine for walking like a drugged girl who escaped from a hospital, and calls Seymone rude during the challenge. Also her walk was "painful." Alisha, on the other hand, looks and walked like a superstar this week. Nigel says Laura's shot is "cute" and "fun" in a dismissive way, and Kelly wonders if she's a "one trick pony." Eboni has disappointed Kelly. The halo of stuffed cats suffocating her face in the photo are "wearing her." The judges can't seem to sort out WHAT they think of Sophie's photo, but they like it enough. Annaliese, too, is confusing to them. Kelly continues to talk about how she's "haunted" by Annaliese ... so why does it seem like Annaliese is the one who should get a restraining order?

Elimination

Best photo of the week goes to: ALISHA.


alishaep8.jpgBOOM! I hope this is the beginning of her real upswing.

And the rest go to:
SOPHIE
CATHERINE
LAURA
ANNALIESE

Bottom Two: EBONI and SEYMONE

Well, that was easy to predict. Either way, four Brits and only two Americans will remain. (Is it weird that I'm American, and am rooting for all four of the Brits? They're just so much better at everything! Including being likeable human being.) Tyra scolds both Eboni and Seymone for not appreciating this opportunity -- Eboni for not working harder to embody her nonsense marketing term "30 Never," and Seymone for bitching about everything she's asked to do. And the second chance belongs to ... Eboni.

So, the "fiercely real" girl, Seymone, is no more. Seymone's final thoughts are, "I don't want to talk about this anymore. I just want to leave. Can I leave please?" On the one hand, REALLY? You couldn't even muster some semblance of class and gratitude for your very last interview? Way to prove Tyra's point. But on the other hand, that's also exactly how I feel right now, so ... bye-bye, kitties!

But before I go: I am LOVING how they're showing each girl's embarrassing music video clip when she's eliminated. "Hai HAY I'm Seymone, an' I ain't no clone!" What a way to go. What a legacy.

(Images courtesy of CW)

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