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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

America's Next Top Model: "The Amazing Model Race"

Illustration for article titled America's Next Top Model: "The Amazing Model Race"
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Ah, Brazil-Nut-ia! Ah, Sao Paulo! Land of women in painful-looking sequin bra-tops, and Carmen Miranda, and Botanical Gardens that (let's be honest) are not worth flying back for, and not-good areas that are (paradoxically) full of happiness, and capoeira crews who bring the drama while dressed like extras from Britney's "Sometimes" video, and Carnival! Oh, wait. That's Rio. What does Sao Paulo, the fashion capital of Brazil (I would have thought it was Macapá, but that's why we watch ANTM, to learn), have again? The Girl From Ipanema in ruffle pants swaying down a staircase at the Botanical Gardens. Or, as it's known in Sao Paulo, Tuesday.

You have to hand it to Tyra, those remaining contestants (droopy-eyed Natalie being the one exception) have been completely frightened into showing enthusiasm at all times, no matter what the "surprise" is. "We got to meet the Girl From Ipanema!" "It's really cool to meet someone from a song!" It is? I'll keep that in mind if I ever run into su-su-sudio. The ruffle pants were interesting, but was Giselle busy? (Of course Giselle was busy. Beth Stern however…) When Brazilian Tyra told the girls that their sad, suspense-free, two-task-long scavenger hunt would end with meeting an important Brazilian fashion figure, you could almost see the girls Giselle-hunting with their eyes. (She is, after all, the only person that comes to mind when the words "Brazil" and "fashion" are used together.) But instead it was The Girl From Ipanema! Brazil's Beth Stern! If only Brazil's Anne Shoket could have been there too! She could have popped her head out of the ground, snatched the birds of paradise with her tiny front paws, and dragged them back to her underground burrow for a nice, long, fragant nap.

After leaving The Woman In Ruffle Pants Who Used To Be The Girl From Ipanema in the fumes of their artificial excitement, the girls proceeded to their ridiculously spacious Brazilian house, where Fo pretended to be excited about winning a basket of jewel-encrusted flip flops, and Natalie proceeded to lay the groundwork for her soon-to-be-imminent elimination. "Why do we have to share beds?" "I just want to go to the beach. Where's the ocean?" "[The botanical gardens] aren't worth flying back for." Poor droopy-eyed Natalie. If she wasn't getting the snob edit this season, and/or if she wasn't such a fun-sucking void,her complaints would actually seem pretty reasonable. After all, it is weird that they're staying in the biggest house in Sao Paolo but they still have to share beds. And no one would fly for 10 hours just to go to Sao Paolo Botanical Gardens—no matter how many ruffle-panted muses were swaying amidst its flowers. But Natalie is the snob, so her words only register as whines.

Following a quick capoeira n' sport bras lesson, the girls "created their drama but model" in a photo challenge. Fo won, because she looked the least (or maybe the most? It was hard to tell) constipated while kicking, and she happily used her sanctioned-sabotage prize on Teyona. Fo, you see, isn't just one of those adorable little martian squeeze toys whose ears pop out when you squeeze them. No, she's an adorable little martian squeeze toy with feelings—feelings that evidently were hurt when her best friend (?) Teyona didn't pick her to co-star in the SooperKewl Streetwear ad in Seventeen magazine or whatever. Teyona doesn't confront Fo about this revenge handicapping because Teyona isn't even mad, and it's, like, an honor that Fo knows Teyona is her competition, and Teyona's just gonna eat her pizza and block the exit from the walk-in closet, okay, not because she's mad, not because she's pissed, but because this is just where she likes to eat her pizza. Understand? Fo's ears momentarily popped out from all the honor Teyona was compressing her with.

The next day, Mr Jay met the girls on the steep divide between extreme wealth and extreme poverty in Brazil, and told the girls it was the perfect place to dress them up like Carmen Miranda. Of course. As he explained it, the objective of the shoot was to look like Carmen Miranda, and embody her sexiness, her sultry-ness, the sex that oozed from each and every one of her pores like so much overripe fruit. But, also, the objective was to not be like Carmen Miranda at all because, well, Carmen Miranda was an unsexy, loud, campy, cornball who wore a lot of fruit on her head because she was a walking joke. Okay, got it? Let's take pictures!

Naturally, all the girls were confused. Fo squeezed her center so tightly, her ears, her nose, and a great Carmen Miranda impression popped out. Baby Martha Plimpton just kind of stood there like a model-y, upright Falcor with fruit on his head. Aminat frightened away all the Favela-dog children with her incredibly awkward stance (and mumbly voice). Teyona smiled, which was interesting. Lemur Barbie looked, well, like a Lemur Barbie: Carmen Miranda Edition. And droopy-eyed Natalie held up a doorframe with the sheer force of her snobbery. "We get here and it's not a good area. It's kind of a poor area. I was like, 'Are we in the right spot?'" How dare you question Tyra's Favela-dog Millionaire photo shoot idea, Natalie. Don't you know that poor people make the most colorful, fashiony backgrounds? What a snob!


In the end, however, it wasn't Natalie's snobbery that got her eliminated, it was listening to Mr. Jay. He was particularly effusive during Natalie's shoot, "Gorgeous! You have no idea how gorgeous that is!" But apparently that translated to "Boring! You have no idea how dull this is!" And Natalie should have known that. Or she should at least have known not to blame Mr Jay for something that was (at least 50%) his fault.

Grade: B

Stray Observations:

—Top Model is now in 120 countries. And that's not like Clay Aiken's billions and billions of records sold. It's a fact. Sorry, world.


—"She's naaaah fresh." Are the judges really just now noticing that Celia looks about as old as Falcor from The Neverending Story in all of her pictures?

—Poor, poor Lemur Barbie. Her weave might as well be 500 old, matted, My Little Pony manes sewn to her head. It looks so awful.


—Tyra to Aminat: "Your fierceness is stuck in your head." A fierceness head cold? Of course! That explains Aminat's mumbly, nasally, indecipherable voice. It also explains why she was lounging in a lawn chair in the sun under a blanket in the heat of Sao Paolo.

—Speaking of voices, did Ms. Jay go through jet lag puberty? He was croaking at the capoeira challenge.


—"Teyona, Daytona Beach, whatever this girl's name is." You mean America's Next Top Model, Jay?