'America's Next Top Model' Cycle 16 Finale Recap: And the Winner Is...
'America's Next Top Model' Cycle 16 Finale Recap: And the Winner Is...
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Well, this is it. We made it through another season of spinning on this silly little planet, which means another Top Model cycle must come to a close. Like sands through the hourglass, and cetera.

To kick off the finale, Tyra gives us a rundown (MINE WAS BETTER) of the two finalists, Brittani and Molly, and I can't help but notice that when she says "Will it be Molly?" the editors immediately cut to Mister Jay exclaiming, "Yes!" Or maybe that's just wishful thinking, since my pick for the final girl is, by now, very apparent. Molly FTW! (Fair warning, the one I'm rooting for almost always loses.)

It saddens me to say this for the last time until we meet again: "YOU WANNA BE ON TOP? Ohhhh, ladiezzzzzzz!" To the recap!

After Hannah's elimination panel, Brittani and Molly are "stoked!" Well, Brittani is. Molly isn't really capable of being stoked, unless it's "full of rage." (Gawd, I love her! No homo/lie.)

And then comes the requisite review of each girl's humble beginnings: Brittani's problems with her mom's anxiety problems, and Molly's issues with abandonment and rehab. Not to write off these serious obstacles the girls have overcome, but we've heard all this several times throughout the season.

And immediately after reminding us that life ain't so "easy, breezy, beautiful" after all, it's time for them to film their Covergirl ad! The Tyra Mail is especially cryptic (at least for those of us without Google Translate/the patience or energy to Google Translate):

sahel-khafif-zoulnah.jpgIt either means "Easy, breezy, beautiful" in Arabic or it's Tyra's list of potential baby names.

Covergirl Commercial and Print Ad Shoot
Molly is worried she'll have to act like someone else (a nice, normal, happy person) for the commercial, which is a valid concern, though it's one that Top Models before her (Nicole and Ann) have conquered before. But before they can get to work, the girls have to meet with IMG boss/Nathan Lane-warthog love child, Ivan Bart.

ivanbart-ugh.jpgLook as I say, not as I look.

Molly tells him she would love "to be a muse for a designer," and Ivan is impressed with her book and the way she transforms in front of the camera. I think he's more impressed with Brittani, though, whom he says has "a beautiful face" and a "wonderful attitude."

After their SUPER INTERESTING interviews with Ivaaaaan Barrrrrrt (who clearly missed his calling as a pirate, given his name), Jay lays out the Covergirl shoot: Today they're shilling "Lip Perfection Lip Color" (manufactured in the Redundancy Department of Redundancy) and will shoot a commercial from three different camera angles simultaneously, and then they'll shoot their print ads. There's a script for the commercial, but there's also a teleprompter.

When she practices the script with Jay, Molly nails it. Brittani runs through it and immediately has a mini panic attack and cries, thus beginning the trail of tears that will take us through until the end of the episode:

brittanicry1.jpgBut things change when it's time to film. Molly's shoot ends up being stilted and unwelcoming. Molly unwittingly does an homage to Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights. ("I'm not sure what to do with my hands!"). Jay says Molly got "so concerned about being herself versus being a model and finding a way to make the two meet, that she forgot and lost all of her charm." (At which point my roommate, aka at-home Nigel Barker, interjects and zings Molly good: "What charm?" Ohhhhh! That was way harsh, Tai.) She looks very pretty, though!

molly-cgcommercial1.jpgMeanwhile, Brittani starts off awkwardly but recovers and nails it on her last take after Jay gives her the old standby advice: "Pretend you're talking to your three best friends." If he said it enough, it was bound to work for somebody sometime!

For the print ad, both girls look stunning, and the photographer has nothing but nice things to say about Molly's beauty and Brittani's edgy, fun look. It's still neck-and-young, beautiful-neck!

"Beauty in Vogue" Shoot

brittani-italianvogueshoot.jpgThe next day, the girls shoot for Vogue Italia's "Beauty in Vogue" insert -- whoever wins will see their photos as a six-page spread. Brittani is all energy and light, while Molly complains to the camera and looks cranky, tired and sad on set. Brittani's getting a slight kick out of watching Molly's "half empty" glass get emptier and emptier. 
After (what she believes is) her craptastic Covergirl and Vogue shoots, Molly is in an even fouler mood than usual, but then ... SURPRISE! The girls come home and Molly's family is there. Molly's mom is precious and delightful and supportive and wonderful (her dad too, but he's less talkative), and the surprise visit instantly puts her in a better mood, which only slightly annoys Brittani, who was hoping for the added edge of Molly's PMS (Pissy Model Syndrome). Molly says that her parents have supported her even at her worst, and if she wins she is excited to pay them back and prove that all their support was worth it. When they leave for the night, Molly and her mom share a European double-kiss on the cheek and laugh about her foray into this new fancy, fashion world. Awwww.

mollysmom1.jpgLOVE HER!

Brittani's mom has anxiety issues and recently had back surgery. Brittani is initially upset that she couldn't fly to Morocco for the finale, and says the saddest thing I've ever heard: "I'm so used to looking for somebody and having nobody there." :( But at least they get to video chat, which quickly lifts her spirits. If she wins, Brittani wants to be able to tell her mom she can stop working so hard, and she'll "take care of everything." Double awwwww!

Aaaand, now I want them both to win! I remember this feeling from Nicole and Laura's season. It's great but also terrible.

Runway Show: Vivienne Westwood's "Anglomania"
As their final challenge, the girls walk in a "salon style" fashion show, which means they are walking room to room in a gigantic Moroccan castle. The Vivienne Westwood line is called "Anglomania" (and we should probably just know better than to question the logic of presenting a line that celebrates British-ness in an elaborate Moroccan castle steeped in traditional Moroccan wares and not press the issue). Kasia, Alexandria and Hannah are back to walk with Molly and Brittani.

And so is Ann, our lovable awkward winner from cycle 15! She looks like an American Girl doll on acid, and I love it:

ann-runway1.jpgRight before the show, Tyra has a chat with both girls, and Molly cries as she thanks her parents for sticking with her when she was such an "assh***." Molly's mom thanks Tyra for getting Molly to "admit" that. I LOVE THIS FAMILY! The crying is made crazier by Molly's tiny beret:

molly-cry2.jpgTime to start the show! Hannah is rooting for Brittani, Alexandria is rooting for Molly and Kasia is rooting for both. I'm rooting for more shots of Miss J in this orange masterpiece he grifted from the set of Sex and the City 2.


The runway show goes off without a hitch until the end, when Brittani and Molly walk side by side. Right in front of the judges, the girls slink up next to each other, and Brittani breaks out laughing because she thinks they look like they're in a "sex position." Then, when they're walking out of the room, she slips on the rose petals three prop-women have been throwing down from the balcony (it is unclear whether Alexandria hired them, for REVENGE) and falls into a giant wooden door. OH NO! Model DISASTER!

brittanifalls1.jpgOnce again, the crying is made crazier by her Diana Ross wig and Twisted Sister makeup:

brittanicry2.jpgBrittani's ankle is quite mangled, but they wrap it and she pushes on through the final runway lap, and manages not to look like she's in pain. Bravo, Brit!

But the pain isn't quite finished. After the show, seemingly just for kicks, Ivan Bart tells the girls that Tyra has had a brilliant "idea" (and what Tyra WANTS, Tyra GETS!): Each of the girls will have a "new look" at the final panel. What could he MEAN? Bleached eyebrows? Eyepatches? Ice cream cone face tattoos? I hope they both get rat tails and gray hats with bows on them as an homage to Sara and Alexandria, our two bad style icons of the cycle.

Judging, Deliberation and the Winner of Top Model Cycle 16
Oh. They just got haircuts. Cute!
brittani-newhair1.jpgClassic Tyra: "Those are two of MY favorite haircuts."

Time for the longest deliberation of their lives! Here's the quick and dirty version:

Runway Show
Brittani's walk: The judges say she strutted with confidence, but they didn't like when she laughed. Tyra: "That's not cool." But she thinks Brittani's poses in the show were "divine."

Molly's walk: She's got a shake in her step, but Andre thinks it's "too much." Tyra likes it a lot but says she needs to transition smoother.

Covergirl Commercial
Brittani's best take: She sounds good, is energetic and enthusiast. And she smiles! Nigel thinks the two profiles work well for her and make good angles with her asymmetry. Jay was impressed with her focus on set.

Molly's best take: She's not as friendly, but she does seem relaxed and confident. Tyra thinks she comes off too mean, and Nigel says it's not inviting enough. Jay: "You read the entire script from memory, that was positive and charming."

brittani-molly-final2.jpgCovergirl Print Ads
Brittani: Stunning, startled, beautiful. Jay likes the edge, and Tyra says Brittani gives the perfect focus on the body part (lips). She does a freaky demo with her face of how this works, obviously.

Molly: Stunning, beautiful, gentle. Jay: "You committed." Andre: "This is to be framed and put in the SALON!" Tyra compares Molly's face to the "enchanting danger" of a tiger.

The judges review the girls' body of work, and it's a tough call. Molly has an "it" factor, but Brittani  is a chameleon. Molly has great movement and shape, but Brittani is fresh and endearing. Brittani's face is unique, but Molly knows how to sell clothes. Brittani is romantic, but Molly is more bookable.

ENOUGH ALREADY? BRING 'EM BACK! Who's it gonna be?

AMERICA'S ... NEXT ... TOP ... MODEL ... IS...

brittani-wins-antm-cycle16.jpgWhoa! I am honestly shocked but still very happy. She is just as deserving as Molly, but going into the episode I really thought Molly had it in the bag, after her three consecutive best photos.

Molly takes the news hard: "I lost. I wanted this really badly, and I failed at the one thing I wanted to do." But after she hugs Brittani and Tyra goodbye, she's back to her old, awesome self: "As soon as I get home, I'm going to take a nap and I'm going to eat a pulled pork sandwich." Love this girl.

Brittani is in tears, she's so happy. "Never give up, because right after you were about to give up, something great really happens. ... Everything I've ever done has finally paid off!" Love this girl, too. Warm and fuzzies all around!

That's all for now, folks. Well ... almost. I'm chatting with both Molly and Brittani in the next couple days, so as always, leave any questions you have for them in the comments!

It's been an honor and a pleasure being your recapper again this season. I love you all. Now do me a solid and email this article to all your friends and check out these slideshows of my picks for the best and worst photos of cycle 16:

(Images courtesy of CW)