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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

America's Next Top Model: "Natural Beauty"

Illustration for article titled iAmericas Next Top Model/i: Natural Beauty
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Illustration for article titled iAmericas Next Top Model/i: Natural Beauty

This episode by the numbers:

4—number of distinct accents I heard Tyra use at panel (That odd sing-songy voice counts as an accent, right?)

6—number of actual natural disasters assigned to the models in the natural disasters photo shoot (Blackouts and traffic jams are not natural disasters, and the Santa Anas, while natural, aren't really a natural disaster. You know what are though? Hurricanes. I bet Tyra just didn't want to offend anyone, which is strange for her.)

45—number of minutes that I estimate it took for Mr. Jay to get in that zombie warewolf (or "alien plus predator") outfit. Why do it? Just because he can. Mr Jay's ego is quickly inflating to Tyra size.

3—number of times (at least) that Marjorie's negative attitude was blamed on Europe, or, more specifically, France.

That last number was my favorite aspect of tonight's show. When Paulina told the models that it's okay if Marjorie is slumped against the column, weak with ennui, because that's just how it's done in Europe, she effectively added another layer of ridiculousness to the towering cake of crazy that Tyra built. "It's a socially acceptable way to be in Europe," and "I have a mild form of realism…because my parents are from France," is the new "My people are Nordic." (Coined by Betty Draper in Mad Men.) What a great excuse! For, well, everything.

So if Marjorie suffers from "a mild form of realism" or, as it's known in the states, self-doubt, because of her Frenchness, then does Samantha's bubbly stupidity and relentless optimism stem from her Americanness? When she says things like, "Welcome to America. This is how it is," to goad Marjorie into being more confident, it certainly seems that way. Marjorie and Samantha are the two sides of the pixie-cut: one dark and brooding like an 18th century street urchin, the other bright and sunny and annoying like, um, Agnes Deyn. (In case you're wondering, McWig is the "wig" side of the pixie cut.)

Still, it's easy to see why something like ANTM would make Marjorie (or any normal person) so uneasy. When faced with Tyra & Co's weekly tableaux ridicules, who wouldn't suffer from ennui or a mild form of realism? Having to keep a straight face, or not being allowed to question when a man dresses up in a zombie warewolf outfit, scares you, and then gives you serious instructions for a photo shoot while still wearing the zombie warewolf costume, should make anyone feel negative. And listening to feedback like, "You're thinking, 'Blackout.' You should be more 'AGGGHH Blackout!'" would make anyone long for realism, or, you know, logic.

But Marjorie, despite her French negativity, did very well with her "natural disaster" of traffic jams. Samantha, however, did even better with her "Tidal Wave" photo shoot, winning the right to be displayed as di-git-al art in the models' house. Apparently American positivity (and giant pools of water) help! American egos, not so much. Clark, who spent all of her camera time this week gloating ("I'm number one in this competition right now.") about her win last week, failed to bring the growl Tyra wanted to her depiction of "Blackout" in the photo shoot, and so she was sent home. This show is only big enough for one giant American ego: Tyra's.

Grade: B-

Stray Observations:

—Tyra's parting words to Clark were, "You gotta get out of that pretty thing." To which she should have added, "Especially because you are the thin-lipped doppleganger of Liev Schreiber."

—Lucky, lucky Samantha. Next week, she'll have her photo displayed in the house with several non-compliments, courtesy of Tyra. Clark's compliments this week were, "fiery" "strong" and "blew me away." I'm sure Tyra considered that last one the biggest compliment of all, because it was all about her.

—Considering Tyra's affinity for calling the contestants "Baby [insert name of famous model that they slightly resemble]" why hasn't she called Samantha "Baby Twiggy" yet? Oh, right, because Twiggy's not on the show any more and therefore doesn't exist.

—Speaking of "baby" names, Analeigh is definitely "Baby Topanga."

—Whitney's life as a Cover Girl includes baking cupcakes? Come on, Tyra. We already know she's plus size.

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