America's Next Top Model, Cycle 8 Episode 6 "The Girl Who Gets Thrown in the Pool" Recap
Originally aired on Wednesday, 04/04/2007

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

Episode Overview: Renee continues to be a source of friction and controversy in the house and all the girls have to be on their best modelette behavior at a high-profile party.

Episode Highlights:
  • The girls have to adopt new nicknames and personas to hit a major party and impress the guests.
  • Renee continues to offend the other girls and isolate herself; this week, it’s friendly, easy-going Jael who loses her patience with Renee’s cattiness.
  • The girls are challenged to be expressive without the usual “circus” of set dressing, costumes and styling.


With Diana Zalewski, one of the plus-size girls, eliminated from the competition, Whitney Cunningham is feeling the weight – pun inevitable – of being the sole girl left in the house who is not, as she puts it, one of the “skinny bitches.” This would be a tough position to be in no matter what, but Whitney has also failed to deliver a strong shot yet, so it’s looking like her days could be numbered.

Meanwhile, Renee Alway continues to hate everyone and everything. This week it’s Jael Strauss. Weren’t they friends a few episodes ago? This week, Renee thinks she’s loud and obnoxious and doesn’t deserve to be there.

The girls have to get their heads in the competition as they head out to their next event. They arrive at a location and are greeting by a large sign saying, “Lesley Hornby.” Twiggy joins the girls and tells them that her name is Lesley Hornby, but she was given the nickname Twiggy by some friends. A photographer heard the nickname and thought it would be a great marketing tool for her, so to speak, and suggested she stick with it as a model. She says she feels this nickname helped brand her and propel her to superstardom.

She brings out Melrose Bickerstaff from last season, who also gave herself a professional nickname. Her real name is Melissa Rose, but as she told Tyra in Cycle Seven auditions, she doesn’t need that “-issa,” so she combined the two for a more memorable, modern nickname. (Aside: I don’t know if it’s just the same general prickliness that lost her the ANTM title last cycle, or if she is just really put out to be brought back to the show on which she lost, but Melrose seems like she is as excited to be back on this show as she would be to get a root canal.)

The girls are directed to pick a nickname for themselves. Whitney decides to take a page from Melrose’s book and combines her first and middle names (Whitney Michelle) to make Whitell. Ugh. Sarah Vonderhaar picks Moe, and seems to immediately regret it. Brittany Hatch shortens her name to Brit. Jaslene Gonzalez and Jael stick with their own names. Natasha Galkina says she has been called Nata so goes with that. Not bad. Dionne Walters picks Wholahay, something she saw on TV. Um…it looks terrible and sounds a little too…ROUND or something to be a good model name, but it would make someone take notice. Renee picks Nayian.

Once the names are picked, Twiggy tells the girls they will be trotting out these new names and personas at a party that evening. Back at the house, they get Tyra mail confirming this, and it tells them to watch out for the “Funky Cold Medina.”

The party turns out to be a pretty big event. Bill Maher is there, along with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, as well as 50 Cent. !!! I know ANTM gets good ratings but I will admit I would not have expected it to be able to land such big names. The girls mingle, and then notice that there is a special area of the party where Tyra’s agent, Benny Medina, is holding court. It suddenly hits many of the girls that this is some serious stuff.

For some of the other girls, though, it doesn’t seem to impress them much. Jael, for one, is much too busy getting seriously up in 50’s business. She cannot seem to leave him alone and he finally dispenses with all politeness and tells her to scram. When this doesn’t work, he pushes her in the pool. Okay, Jael was being annoying but that seems a little uncool to use physical force against somebody just for being annoying. Sure, it’s just a little shove, but it still seemed unnecessarily aggressive and hostile.

Natasha decides to show her support for Jael or else just thinks the pool looks great as she jumps in as well.

Meanwhile, Benny Medina is bringing the girls back one by one to meet with him and his room of VIP’s, which include model Beverly Johnson. Whitney manages to stay articulate, but Benny doesn’t like her nickname. Brittany thinks that she couldn’t possibly have impressed Benny with her increasingly ratty weave. Dionne is very poised, but does start crying when talking about her daughter. Jael and Natasha see Benny together, and Jael refuses to be intimidated by how ticked Benny is that she was in the pool during an important meeting.

The other models are scandalized by Jael as well, wondering what a client would think in the real world. I have two words for these girls: Kate Moss. Considering that she is dating a man who is arrested for possession about every third day, and she herself was caught on camera using cocaine...and yet she came back to make even more money than ever before…I think a client would probably think that falling into a pool at a party would be refreshingly wholesome.

Also at the party, Renee dishes with Paris and Nicole, and tells Nicole Richie that Jael is a bitch. Nicole then turns around and tells Jael what Renee said. Glamorous!

Back at the house, Jael and Renee get into it, and Jael defends herself and the other girls against Renee. On the one hand, no matter how much I dislike Renee’s behavior, I still bad when I see anyone being ostracized as she is. On the other, she seems completely incapable of being honest with herself and the others about her behavior, claiming that she has always been respectful of the other girls. Admitting you have a catty problem is the first step to solving it, Renee.

Tyra mails alludes to the drama, saying that while the girls may feel like their housemates are two-faced, but they are about to get “four-faced.” When they get to the shoot, Jay Manual informs them that their shoot today will be for them to take some straightforward shots of them expressing four different emotions. The girls will get to pick which emotions or personas they want to portray, as well as direct their own hair and make-up.

Dionne is the first to go, and while she does well, Jay thinks she still has trouble of “going to the edge.”

Jaslene, who Jay says was raised by drag queens, picks that as one of her looks. She also picks Cha Cha Diva, Modelesque and Sentimental, but as Jay points out – they all look the same.

Nata is solid, continuing to improve and impress Jay.

Whitney continues to really not bring true modeling ability to the shoot.

Jael, on the other hand, knocks it out of the park. Jay can’t stand her “dragged out make-up” but her powerful poses impress him and she lands some terrific shots, including one persona: “Revolutionary Peacemaker” which she helpfully explains means she is the “martyr of the universe.” Oh my LORD I love this girl. Where on earth does she get this stuff from?

Sarah continues to struggle in her shoot, once again being too posed and over-thinking her persona.

Brittany, Jay thinks, has found her weak spot. Despite her stellar performance week after week, she seems to struggle with this assignment.

Renee is another modelette who doesn’t do too well; Jay thinks there isn’t a lot of variation in her expression and energy between the different looks.

Before the girls head to judging, they meet with Tyra for one of her girl talk group therapy sessions. Of course, the main purpose of this is to induce tears on the part of the girls. Brittany is first to break down, only her pain is physical not emotional: her weave does not only look terrible, it is incredibly painful and her scalp looks red and raw when she shows it to Tyra. Tyra lets her know that the show will do something about her hair.

After a pass through the room, it’s time for Renee to have her meltdown. She cries, saying she is misunderstood, and so Tyra thinks the best thing to have the girls do is go around the room and say how Renee hurt their feelings. After they have all spoken, Renee responds, and for a moment, she seems to be reverting back to her excuses and defensive behavior, but then she seems to realize that what she needs to do is just apologize.

In the judging room, the end results of most of the photos are just a little ho hum.

  • Jael is the standout; Tyra tells her that all her film was strong. Twiggy briefly protests that Jael has yet to look gentle or soft, but I don’t think that’s true. While her “Pro-Life” shot from one of the earlier episodes was not a particularly good shot, it was definitely a shot without her tough edge, and there was real vulnerability in her eyes.

  • Renee’s nickname Nayien doesn’t impress the judges, so she is renamed “NeNe.” Her shots are among the ho hum, and Tyra tells her she needs to go further.

  • Natasha, on the other hand, impressed Tyra, and she tells her she sees the model in Natasha emerging.

  • Brittany’s shot please the judges – with Twiggy thinking they look like they belong in “Parisian Vogue” – but they are nowhere near as strong as her previous weeks.

  • Whitney is told by the judges that they hate her nickname, saying “Whitell” sounds like a department store. They also think her shots look amateurish.

  • Jaslene’s pictures turn out really, surprisingly badly. The judges are disappointed, as I am, as she has consistently been one of the more versatile and interesting girls in the shoots. Miss Jay is still loving how much she looks like Janice Dickinson, though.

  • Sarah can’t do much right tonight. The judges don’t love her nickname, with Benny Medina, the guest judge tonight, pointing out how she makes a goofy pose every time she says “Moe.” They also don’t like how posed and “corny” her shots are. She is in near tears by the time they finish.

  • Dionne’s nickname also turns the judges off, so Tyra recommends her nickname is “Brown.” That’s an improvement? Her photos are lovely, although Twiggy thinks her “Hood” girl shot looks like a pissed-off housewife. Benny helpfully explains those two expressions are, in fact, one and the same.

After the judges confer, the girls are brought back in and eliminations begin. Jael is called first – her first first! – and is followed by Natasha, Dionne, Brittany, Renee and Jaslene, leaving Whitney and Sarah in the bottom two, for the obvious reasons. Neither has performed well in photo shoots, but Whitney, at least, will get another chance to try as Sarah is being sent home.

Whitney shouldn’t feel too comfortable; based on the judges’ comments, it seems like she is hanging on by the thinnest of threads, mainly Tyra’s desire to have a plus-size girl compete with the others. We’ll see if she can finally step up her game next week.

-Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Photos courtesy of CW)

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