So, did everyone see droopy-eyed Natalie's round of bitter exit interviews? Apparently she's under the impression that America's Next Top Model is some kind of modeling competition, where the contestants are fairly evaluated by a panel of experts on their modeling skills (like the ability to look good in a photograph and the ability to look good in clothes), and not a spinning gravitron of ridiculousness that starts and stops whenever Tyra feels like taking her hand off of the lever. Natalie expected to stay because she had a better picture than Aminat? Has she ever seen ANTM? What about footage of tornados as they barrel across cities and towns? Well, tornados use more logic in deciding which houses to destroy and which to tear apart than Tyra does in deciding who stays and who goes. But there's nothing shady about it—don't you see Tyra's face? She's funnel clouding with her eyes.
Really, there's nothing shady about America's Next Top Model. Stupid? Yes. Dull? Oh yes. Repetitive? Yes oh yes. But the show is always very transparent about how stupid, dull, and repetitive it is. Take, for example, tonight's episode, which let us know right away who the bottom two were going to be at judging. The show opened with Baby Martha Plimpton shuffling over to the windows of the girls' Sao Paolo apartment to join in the "We're so glad Natalie is gone" conversation. But as she got closer, she heard an insistent, "Creeeeak. Creeeeeeeaaak." Baby Martha Plimpton thought maybe it was the ghost of Natalie, or maybe it was just her (very stylish) walker, because the creaking sound only happened when she moved. Eventually, though, she realized it wasn't her couture walker at all, it was just the sound of her creaky old bones knocking around in her sagging skin as she inched towards the windows because she's 25 and so old and wise. "I'm 25. I feel like I have such perspective," she observed, although she might as well have just said, "I'm in the bottom two this week." Meanwhile Fo told the Sao Paolo confessional, which is apparently at the bottom of a well outside of the favelas, "I do everything half-assed. High-school I half-assed. Everything in my life is half-assed." And everyone watching knew that pretty soon she could add ANTM to the list of things she does half-assed. (That was Fo's mistake: Tyra only wants Cover Girl commercial stars who do things a quarter-assed.)
Next, the girls were brought to the top of a high-rise where they met an eager wisp of a man and a deflated beige balloon of a woman, his constant companion/translator. Their presence could only mean one thing: Go-Sees! The deflated balloon managed to tell the girls that the designers would be looking for "style, personality, and sooooouuuuullll." (She neglected to mention that they would also be looking for the bright fresh scent of youth to rub off on all of their clothes, clothes that they themselves would wear later in personal hyberbaric chambers in the hope of sparking some kind of skin cell rejuvenation—but that was implied.)
And off to the cabs the girls ran—driving from weird Brazilian designer to weird Brazilian designer: There was the scruffy guy who designed shredded garbage bag and rave wrapping paper dresses; there was the ex-model who apparently could only make three things: ruffles, maternity dresses, and ruffled maternity dresses; there was the serious woman who gave helpful advice like, "Fo should be taller;" and there was my favorite: the mumbly Brazilian Roseanne in dark sunglasses. Not surprisingly, the girls who would be really good runway models—Aminat and Teyona—did pretty well, but the girls who are too short for runway (Fo), or too old for modeling in general (Celia), or who suffer from Awkward Walk Syndrome (Lemur Barbie) didn't do so well. Fo, in particular, was constantly reminded about the fact that at 5'8" she's short—which means that Cycle 13, the "short cycle" should be a lot of fun. Maybe the girls can go on go-sees to the sad, dingy, boxy-jacket-strewn Petites section of Macys?
Teyona, being the Tyra suck-up and probable eventual ANTM that she is, got back to the high-rise first, and promptly started to gloat. Aminat and Lemur Barbie rolled in on time, but Baby Martha Plimpton was literally one minute late—but right on time for Teyona and Aminat's "You're late!!" taunting. Fo was the last to arrive because, well, her legs are shorter than everyone else's. Next the non-disqualified girls were put in the belly of a giant metal bird and flown across town. The producers told Aminat it wasn't a bird, but a heliocopter, but she was too busy making cooing sounds at the seagulls they were passing in the sky to hear. The bottom two, Celia and Fo, were left standing on the roof, wondering if Aminat meant it when she said, "Y'all better watch out. I'm gonna make this big metal bird poop on your heads!"
The next day it was off to a Brazilian beach for a teeny bikini photo shoot with Nigel, Mr. Jay, and the entire roster of Sao Paolo Central Casting. Teyona moved around a lot, which Nigel loves, because it reminds him of his days growing up in England, hanging out on his parents' front steps, and playing Noted Ant Burner Nigel Barker. Oh how those ants would scurry away from his magnifiying glass! But he always got them in the end. Aminat did a kind of bendy, standing slump, which is much easier than it sounds. Because Lemur Barbie, unlike the other girls, has an actual sense of humor, she went directly for the fat guy in the speedo, and ended up with an entertaining photo. Fo crouched in the middle of the shot like Gollum—a pose that, along with however Tyra was feeling at judging, definitely helped send her home. And Baby Martha Plimpton, feeling shaky without her walker, couldn't figure out what to do with herself. After the show, she conferred with the girls: "Did Nigel have to come in and show you how to use that big fat guy in a Speedo as a prop? Because he did with me." A meek voice answered, "Did Nigel say to any of you: 'Your soul will be easy to extract with eyes like those.'?" But there was only silence. Then Alison realized she hadn't said that out loud. She was relieved. "Not while the cameras are around," she thought. "I'll go to the producers later."
—Tyra's list of the girls' obstacles 2 overcome: "Celia has age. Aminat and Teyona have the color of their skin. Alison has her quirkiness. And you are short."
"Tahlia has her sca—oh shit," she continued. "I forgot we cut the burn survivor, but she would have been really great for this speech. Oh well, point is: Everyone is a survivor of something."
—Teyona's almost-certain winner status is really going to her head. That 60 second "I want it all! I want it all!" jumping jack session she did in front of all the clothes she won was really obnoxious. Maybe her head will grow as big as Tyra's, and Tyra will see fit to cut it off and give Alison first place.
—"Look at the birds! We're like birds!" Greatest subtitle ever?
—How many cans of hairspray, plastic rods, and pieces of string to you think it took to make Tyra's immovable mane in this episode?