America's Next Top Model, Cycle 8 Episode 5 "The Girl Who Takes the Credit" Recap
Originally aired on Wednesday, 03/28/2007

Episode Rating: *** (3 stars out of 5)

Episode Overview: The plus-size girls are feeling the pressure in the House of Skinny. Natasha feels isolated, and for once, can’t find a positive spin to put on a bad situation.

Episode Highlights:
  • Sarah wins a challenge – but not without some controversy from her teammates who feel responsible for the win.
  • Natasha can’t seem to make any friends in the house, but her strong performance during the photo shoot might win her some grudging respect.
  • The plus-size girls might be physically bigger, but their spirits are shrinking as they continue to struggle in the photo shoots.


You might think that Natasha Galkina – who has made an art out transforming criticism into compliments – might be somewhat impervious to any negative energy whatsoever. But this is not so. She knows she doesn’t really click with any of the girls in the house, and she takes refuge is a vaguely dirty phone call to her husband.

Meanwhile, the other girls are busy wondering if Natasha was a mail-order bride or alternating between bonding (the plus-size girls Whitney Cunningham and Diana Zalewski) and tearing each other down (Renee Alway vs. the plus-size girls). Renee tells Whitney that there will never be a plus-size model on the cover of Vogue. Guess what, Renee? It’s not looking likely that there will ever be another model period on the cover of Vogue: actors and singers sell magazines nowadays. Regardless, Renee pretends to be sympathetic, but once again, it seems like her goal is to hatchet away the other girls’ self-esteem until they are as miserable as she is.

The first event this show is a quick meeting with a working model and the Elite Modeling Agency Director. They dress the girls up in outfits, and then ask for their opinions. The girls give glowing reviews of their looks, only to be told that actually, they are sporting example of what NOT to wear. Natasha defends their enthusiasm, saying as a model, shouldn’t they be happy with whatever they are asked to wear? Um, YES, actually, and I think this whole exercise stinks. The girls are trying to be good sports and be positive, and then they are all humiliated for liking what was presented to them. Their outfits are mixed up and then transformed into “acceptable” outfits. Whatever.

The modellettes head out to the first challenge. A pair of twin male models directs them to work in groups of three to put together outfits and a set for an in-store display. The girls get to work, tearing through racks of clothes and rifling through props to create their sets. Dionne Walters, who was called out last week for her poor fashion sense in the elimination room, is determined to do well. She picks out the outfits for herself and teammates Renee and Sarah Vonderhaar. Jael Strauss, Natasha and Whitney made an rather odd trio, but they actually come together well, and put together both great outfits and a cohesive display.

Unfortunately, Jael and Whitney didn’t listen either to the full directions or to Natasha’s last minute reminder, and so Whitney, who posed on the floor as opposed to the designated platform, gets her team disqualified. The male model twins let them know they would have won as a group and Whitney would have won as an individual had they followed the rules.

So this means that Renee, Sarah and Dionne’s group is the next best and ergo the winner. The twins like how well Sarah’s aqua colored-top suits her coloring, so she is noted the winner. This infuriates both Whitney and Renee, who both feel that Sarah was not responsible for the clothing choices. They are even more ticked off when they hear the prize: Sarah will get double the frames in her next shoot, and will have the opportunity to review her work while shooting to make improvements.

Back at the house, all of the criticism finally gets to Natasha, and she breaks down in tears to her husband on the phone. Whitney is mad at herself for messing up the challenge, but feels like Natasha is so off-the-wall most of the time, how could she be expected to listen to her?

Now it’s time for the photo shoot. Jay Manuel introduces the girls to a group of male models who will be helping with them with the shoot. At first the girls are thrilled for some testosterone…until Jay tells them, these are not those kinds of models. These are Drag Queens, and THEY will be portraying the women in these shots. The modellettes, on the other hand, will be doing male drag and portraying men.

The shoot starts off strong. Jaslene Gonzalez, as a Nautical Guy, “command[s] the set” thinks Jay, directing the drag queen model to maximize the shot. Her features, which can be a little strong, play well into the masculine look, but she also just exudes the energy, which takes the shot from good to great.

Brittany Hatch also delivers a great shoot as the Outdoorsy Guy, and manages to keep a straight face even as her funny partner hams it up.

Renee’s persona to capture is Glam Rock Guy, and Jay thinks she does well. Then the shoots get a little less successful. Jael’s character is Bohemian Guy, but she seems to go a little too over the top and her posing remains rather feminine. Dionne, as one half of a Power Couple, seems to struggle to come up with appropriate and natural looks, relying on some JC Penney underwear model-type poses which confound Jay. Sarah is lucky she had the extra shots, as her Rocker Guy persona doesn’t hit the mark in her first sixty frames.

Both plus-size girls really struggle in the shoot. Neither Whitney – as Collegiate Guy – or Diana – as Red Carpet Guy – can relax in front of the camera and Jay gets frustrated. He asks Diana why she wants to win the competition and her response is: “Just cuz.” Ouch! Jay is dumbfounded by this answer.

Natasha, on the other hand, totally wows Jay, the makeup artists, the other girls and the entire assembled crew. Her person is Hip-Hop Guy. She completely gets into character, assuming the body language and overall aura. She even fashions her own grill out of tin foil! The whole room loves her shoot, and the girls actually loudly applaud her when she is done.

Now it’s time for judging, and the comments are as expected. Jaslene, Brittany and Renee get kudos for their strong shots. Sarah splits the judges: some like it, some are not sure it’s masculine enough for the assignment. Jael also lost them with her hip-jutting poses, and they felt that only her fake mustache conveyed she was a dude. Natasha confounds the judges: they are seeing her grow each week and like her enthusiasm…but also find her overall kind of odd.

The judges like that Dionne seemed to take their advice about dressing appropriately to heart, and although she did not have the strongest shoot, she did get one good photo from the batch.

Diana and Whitney are clearly the weakest. With all they need to overcome as plus-size models, neither are really stepping up and knocking it out of the park.

Tyra goes through the names, and this week, little oddity Natasha is first, followed by Dionne, Brittney, Jaslene, Sarah, Renee, and Jael, leaving the two plus-size girls in the bottom. Tyra lets them know she sees both of their potential, but Diana has no fire and Whitney can’t catch a photo.

And Diana is sent home, Whitney is safe to try again for a good photo.

-Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Photos courtesy of CW)