Tonight on America’s Next Top Model: The final 6 embark on their exotic trip… to Hawaii. There, they learn how to surf, and to look like different racial identities.

No, seriously.

It’s America’s Next Top Model. With Tyra Banks. Aren’t you just surprised they didn’t try out blackface sooner?

Here’s something that actually surprises me: Erin is still in the competition! Can you believe it?

To surprise the girls with their trip, Tyra goes into their house with a bunch of men in hazmat suits who use handheld vacuum cleaners to pretend to quarantine the Top Model house. And they use pink caution tape, because FIERCE!

antm-hasmat.jpgOh, no! Where will the models live? Tyra has an idea…

antm-fruit.jpgHawaii! And if there’s one thing America’s Next Top Model needs, it’s MORE FRUIT!

jay-puffypuff.jpgDefinitely not enough already.

Anywho, for those of you who thought that a trip to Hawaii means America’s Next Top Model had major budget cuts, since the other cycles have gone to actual foreign countries like Brazil and Australia, you OBVIOUSLY didn’t catch that the CW spent basically a million dollars on the “Fierce Airlines” graphic:

hawaii-graphic2.jpgWho knew Pixar still did contract work?

hawaii-graphic1.pngAmazing! And it’s not just the animation. Tyra also pulled out all the stops for the models’ Hawaiian mansion: each room has a TV set that broadcasts Jennifer’s winning Covergirl commercial from last week. Even the bathroom! Oh ANTM, always spending where it really counts.

The Surfing Challenge:

The models’ first task in Hawaii is to learn how to surf, because… because they’re in Hawaii. The instructor claims that surfing relates to modeling, but we all know they just want footage of the girls falling over. And, if that’s true, you could claim that pretty much ANY activity that requires standing up and showing some sort of physical skill “relates to modeling.” I can’t wait until next cycle when Tyra takes the girls to Canada and teaches them how to bowl! Fiercely, obviously.

The surfing challenge is a snore, but the editing team does their best to snazz it up with some split-screen:
surfing-set2.jpgSee? Now it’s 100% pure adrenaline, bro!

The challenge is to get up on the surf board and get a decent photo (while accompanied by a hot dude with washboard abs). No one really does that:

surfing-montage.jpgBut Erin looks the least like a granny-panty wearing weirdo, so she wins! “What does she win?” you ask? She wins a helicopter tour of Maui, and she gets to take two “friends” with her. She picks Brittany (who thinks Erin is the most annoying person in the house) and Nicole, who is WAY more excited about this prize that Erin is. At least I think that’s excitement:

nicole-helicopter.jpgErin bitches about the prize because it’s not “tangible,” like a gift card to Wal-Mart or earrings. Jennifer says Erin has “spoiled brat syndrome.” I say she needs a tangible punch to the neck! (Just kidding. But seriously, remember how you are on TV? Keep your sore winner ingratitude to yo’self.)

Next… the actual photo shoot!

The Photo Shoot:

Jay meets the girls at a sugar cane field to reveal the week’s photo shoot. But first, he introduces the photographer: TYRA!

Tyra claims that she is becoming the photographer twice in one cycle for the FIRST TIME IN TOP MODEL HISTORY (that gets said a lot, doesn’t it?) because “you guys inspire me, and you’re beautiful.” Right. Or because they couldn’t find a real photographer to fly out to Hawaii on short notice.

So, what’s the photo shoot? Tyra explains the history of Hawaii (and the birds and the bees) in a quick minute, to get to her crucial point: many mixed-race people live in Hawaii, and the word they’ve given themselves is “hapa,” meaning “half.” Each model will take on two ethnicities to portray in her photo shoot. Right down to her darkened skin.

Well, this is awkward. I honestly don’t know if Tyra is trying to celebrate Hawaiian culture and mixed race people, or if this is just a hack way to get controversial publicity following French Vogue’s recent blackface spread which certainly got people talking… and lashing back. Whatever the case, it makes me a bit uncomfortable, and even though this sort of broad-stroked, insensitive stunt doesn’t surprise me (coming from Tyra, after all), I can see why some people –whether mixed race or not–might be offended by the aestheticizing and stereotyping of so many ethnicities. How about you?

Eeeek! is right, Tyra. Jay is more like, “I didn’t do it. Not my problem. Grab me some popcorn while I watch this shiz go dooooown.”

The models learn what races they will be portraying:

Laura: Mexican and Greek
Erin: Tibetan and Egyptian
Sundai: Moroccan and Russian
Brittany: Native American and East Indian
Jennifer: Botswanan and Polynesian
Nicole: Japanese and Malagasy (Madagascar)

Each model disappoints Tyra at the beginning of her photo shoot, except for Nicole, who kills it from the beginning with her wicked smart angles. Jennifer, Sundai and Laura each snap out of the weirdness of being in blackface and intimidation of having Tyra as their photographer, and crank out some decent shots in the end.

Brittany tries hard to channel that one Native American chief in that recycling commercial who has a single, heartbreaking tear running down his cheek, but instead she just looks stiff and “catalog.”

Erin acts “weird” on set and looks bored in all her photos. Tyra tries to tell her to “think about Egypt and the people, what they’ve been through,” but that means nothing whatsoever to Erin. She also admits that she has only a “vague idea of Tibet, except that it needs to be freed.”

Judging Panel:

Click the slideshow to see all the final elimination photos (plus 1 extra of Nicole):

The judges evaluate each hapa photo, and give feedback:

Jennifer: It’s National Geographic, but the angles aren’t flattering enough to call it modeling.
Laura: Her face looks beautiful, and she went through the most drastic transformation.
Erin: Her face looks pretty, but she relies too much on that and doesn’t provide enough edge or emotion. She didn’t seem present during the shoot, and looked “commercial” in lots of shots.
Brittany: The shot lacks energy or animation and looks “catalog.”
Sundai: She gives the same angle in every photo, and looks like a “fierce 12 year old” in a Gap Kids ad.
Nicole: She looks graceful and powerful with great angles, and didn’t even lose her neck in that massive neckpiece.


Nicole gets first call-out, obviously.

Then comes Jennifer, Laura and Sundai, leaving Brittany and Erin in the Bottom Two.

“So, who stays and who goes?” Tyra asks.

The girl who takes beautiful photos but is becoming “formulaic” (Brittany)?

Or the girl who has a “memorable face” but is “doing something that we [as in, the world?] call self sabotage” (Erin)?

Tyra eliminates Brittany. LAAAAAAME. But she doesn’t let her leave before giving her some of that Tyra-trademark “advice.”

“You loved the photo, but the photo could be stronger. You went for something safe, and fashion is not safe.”

Since when is “safe” worse than “whiny and bored”?

Next week: Marisa Miller teaches the models how to rock bikinis, and Laura hyperventilates deep down in the ocean.

Meghan Carlson

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Meghan hails from Walla Walla, WA, the proud home of the world’s best sweet onions and Adam West, the original Batman. An avid grammarian and over-analyzer, you can usually find her thinking too hard about plot devices in favorites like The OfficeIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and How I Met Your Mother. In her spare time, Meghan enjoys drawing, shopping, trying to be funny (and often failing), and not understanding the whole Twilight thing. She’s got a BA in English and Studio Art from Whitman College, which makes her a professional arguer, daydreamer, and doodler.