Originally aired on Wednesday, 03/14/2007
Episode Rating: *** (3 stars out of 5)
Episode Overview: It’s makeover week! Some excellent transformations, but less tears than usual!
• Brittney continues to dominate the competition with her performance, but her personal weakness isn’t winning many friends.
• Jael gets some awful personal news.
• And on a much much lighter note: MAKEOVERS!
Although the America’s Next Top Model house is generally a hotbed of girl-on-girl conflict, the place isn’t totally without its ceasefires and friendly alliances. Diana O’Connell and Whitney Cunningham have found themselves clicking, not only as fellow plus-size colleagues, but also as friends. Jaslene Gonzalez turns to Cassandra Watson for guidance and support, and Cassandra says that although it is a competition, she doesn’t see any reason not to be kind and helpful to the other girls since that is her real-life personality.
America's Next Top Model is available on Amazon Prime.
But enough of that. Now it’s time for…MAKEOVERS! The girls arrive at a salon, where Tyra Banks briefly teases them that there will be no makeovers this season because of all the crying over the previous Cycles. Who is she trying to kid? Tyra heads an empire that depends on the salty tears of young(ish) aspiring models to keep the America’s Next Top Model machinery lubricated and running smoothly. She is powerless to resist the opportunity to make them break into haircut-induced sobbing fits.
This Cycle, however, there are a minimum of tears; the girls are all admirably game and the haircut choices this season actually seem more focused on maximizing their assets than creating a dramatic reaction. That’s not to say previous makeovers haven’t seriously helped the looks of contestants. This Cycle, though, it seemed to me that the mildly sadistic edge that generally goes along with the process was missing.
The transformations were as follows, and, again, with only a couple exceptions, they were real improvements that made the girls look more polished and modern:
• Cassandra – the wig that was sewn onto her head is cut off, and she gets an absolutely adorable tightly curled floppy fro.
• Renee Alway
– Tyra wants her to have a strong haircut to match her strong facial structure and shoulders, so she gets a choppy modern, Yoanna House-style shorter ‘do.
• Whitney – her current middle-of-the-road college girl weave comes out, and she gets long, wavy locks.
• Diana – her look is also taken from average to dramatic, with extra length, volume, and new brighter blond locks. I think she was the least successful transformation. The hair was pretty, but I was hoping for something that would really make her stand out. I am all for giving the plus-size girls a chance, and I think Diana is naturally pretty, but she seems to be washed out compared to the other girls, so I was hoping the hair would be more dramatic.
- her hair color is deepened to nearly black, which is a much better shade for her coloring than her coppery shade. She gets layered bangs and some overall length as well.
• Dionne Walters
– her long locks are chopped and she gets a cute, kicky, Kelis-looking do with long, side-swept bangs. She seemed momentarily apprehensive about losing her hair, but keeps a good attitude and seems to like the results.
• Sarah Vonderhaar
– Tyra thinks her washed out blond is flat, so they make her a darker, “dirtier” brown.
• Jaslene – she gets some choppy layers for a modern-day Charlie’s Angel swishy ‘do. She says her attitude got a makeover with her look as well, as she emerges feeling more positive from the process.
• Brittany Hatch
– she gets a deep rich red weave put in. It looks fantastic but she is feeling some pain from the weave itself.
• Natasha Galkina
– if you have seen Gwen Stefani’s recent look (or Michelle Pfieffer in Scarface, by whom Gwen was inspired) of strong bangs and stick-straight long hair, then you have seen Natasha’s new style. Now color it a deep chocolate brown. I think it looks fantastic, and makes her eyes more striking.
• Jael Strauss
– poor Jael. She spends eight hours in the chair getting a weave done, and then by the end of the process, Jay Manuel tells her that it’s not helping her look and they are taking it out. Instead, they are going with a brown Mia-Farrow-circa-Rosemary’s-Baby super-short do. And we have our only makeover-related crying. She’s not disappointed about the look, just frustrated at the time and discomfort she just went through for naught. Normally, I am very suspicious of any tear-inducing activity on the part of any of the ANTM judges, but there was something about Jay’s delivery of the news that made me think this was a sincere thing to make the best of Jael’s look and not just some machinations to amp up the drama.
Not to say there isn’t drama. Back at the house, Brittany’s tendency to complain (and with her painful new weave, she has a new topic) and cry has her housemates on edge. Whitney takes her aside in the kitchen and helpfully lays out a list of things that it is okay to cry about (primarily death, in case you were wondering).
And in an absolutely awful segue, Jael finds out that one of her friends has just died of an overdose. She is freaked out and doesn’t know how to process it. She says she is continuing with the competition as a “distraction.”
The next day, the girls have another challenge. For a moment, it looks like Brittany, who was feeling some stomach flu, might not participate, which our favorite bitter pill Renee is all for. However, Jael and Sarah encourage her to continue and so she does.
For the challenge/blatant product placement moment, some representatives of a magazine and a cosmetics company (hey, I’m not being paid to mention them so I choose to not participate in the placement) meet with the girls in a garden. They have ten minutes to do their own make-up, and the girl who does the best job will win a photo shoot in the magazine with two of her friends.
It’s a mad dash to get their makeup complete. (As an aside, NAIL POLISH, Nameless Cosmetics Company? You give them ten minutes and include nail polish among the make-up they need to apply? That’s just crazy.) It’s not enough time, sadly, for Cassandra, who is late back to the starting point and is disqualified. The winner of the challenge is Brittnany, who brings Jael and Sarah to the shoot as a thanks for encouraging her to compete in the first place.
As you might imagine, this does not endear her to Renee. Back at the house, Miss Malcontent Renee can’t help but kvetch about Brittany and her supposed “fakeness.” I said it before, and I’ll say it again: every Cycle of ANTM, there seems to be at least one girl in the house who talk a lot of trash about the other girls. And generally, those are some of the most fun girls to watch. Normally, they seem to be kind of petty, sure, but their main weakness seems to be a total inability to keep their mouth shut. Like they might not actually be any more catty than any of the other girls, they just have less impulse control.
But Renee seems to be another story. Her cattiness seems almost tortured, like she has some kind of deep misery or something. Whatever it is: I find it completely unfunny, unlike, say, a Monique Calhoun of previous seasons. When Renee runs around talking smack, it just makes me feel sad.
Brittany, however, is feeling mad, so in a calm way, lets Renee know that her trash talk is not going unnoticed. Renee immediately decides a good offense is the best defense, and tries to turn it around on Brittany, telling her that Renee has “been nothing but nice” to her. Right, um: to her face. But what about everything Renee has been saying behind her back? Renee seems untroubled by the inherent contradiction that her main complaint is that Brittany is “fake,” while she defends her own actions as somehow admirably two-faced.
Brittany is sort of working my nerves with her complaining as well, but I love love love that she delivers the parting barb to Renee that she is “kicking [Renee’s] ass” in the competition. Because she is, and it’s nice to see a girl on the show that isn’t suffering from crippling low self-esteem OR artificially inflated ego.
Next, it’s the week’s photo shoot. The shoot features the girls done up as candy, and they are posing nude. It’s not, for me, a particularly interesting shoot, however. The styling is just sort of ho-hum, and nearly all the girls seem to do just fine by Jay. The only exceptions are Whitney and Diana, who struggle, but for different reasons. Whitney doesn’t let any self-consciousness about her body hold her back, but her face falls flat. Diana seems to struggle to find a comfortable pose, and the tension throws off the whole shoot.
On the positive end, Brittney again delivers a totally rockin’ shot (I’ll just tell you now it’s my pick this week for the best, hands down!). Even Renee has to admit how well she did. Jael also manages to put her troubles aside and delivers a fierce shot.
And now we are back to the elimination room, where Tyra is sporting yet another head wrap. The girls get their critique and then the judges have their private evaluation, which are summarized below:
- Jael – she breaks down about her friend, but tells the judges she doesn’t want to bring so much drama, and that she wants to be professional. Tyra tells her it’s okay, and then lets her know how strong her photo was this week.
- Natasha – although Jay thought she improved in this shoot, Tyra tells Natasha that overall, her film wasn’t great. Natasha continues to always see the positive, saying she is happy how much better the photo is than last week.
- Felicia – her photo was good, but Tyra and the judges worry that she doesn’t really get high fashion.
- Whitney – most of the judges are not convinced she is model material. Tyra agrees her face was weak in the photo, but defends her potential.
- Brittany – she complains (again!) about the weave, but who cares because that photo is unbelievable and the judges all love it. Renee, in the background, looks ready to have an aneurysm.
- Cassandra – the judges love her personality but her photo is dud. The panel goes completely silent when it appears. Her neck is lost, and Tyra thinks she just hasn’t practiced enough.
- Renee – the judges think the picture has potential, but her eyes are not strong enough.
- Dionne – solid; Nigel thinks she is one to watch.
- Diana – she is looking awkward, and the judges think her personality in front of them in the judging is absent.
- Sarah – finally, the judges think, she is starting to live up to her potential. They find her intensity striking.
- Jaslene – another excellent photo, but the judges wonder why her persona in the judging room is never as memorable as her strong photo.
And now it’s time for the results!
Tyra calls Brittany first, then Jael, Sarah, Dionne, Felicia, Renee, Whitney, Natasha, and Jaslene, leaving Cassandra and Diana in the bottom two. Tyra delivers her usual speech about why they are there, which basically boils down to: neither of you are bringing a good photograph, and Diana, you have no personality (which seems kind of harsh). Yet, somehow, it’s Cassandra that is sent home.
Well, I’ve already tipped my hand as to who will be my pick this week for Best Photo, but please head back here on Thursday to see who is on my list for Worst and to add your comments and thoughts!
-Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Photos courtesy of CW)