'Top Model:' The Higher the Pedestal...
After several seasons of providing more incentives to slumber than even Sleepytime Tea, "America's Next Top Model" last night reminded us why it garnered such a devoted audience in the first place.
In a "no freakin' way" moment, Tyra and Co. booted Asperger's sufferer Heather, who has been voted fan favorite every week since the online polls began. Even bad-news blond Jenah (the one with the mildly crazy look in her eye) looked utterly bewildered to hear Tyra call her name over Miss Cannot-Do-Wrong's.
See, Heather had managed to overcome her mild autism to be an Enrique Iglesias video vixen, to pose for a shoot that had Mary J. Blige as its art director and, most memorably, to squeamishly share a shower scene with several of her model housemates. Her underdog quality appealed to a nation of fans. (Even recently ejected "ANTM" cast member Lisa has been telling interviewers all week that she'd peg Heather as the winner. But then, all anyone was really asking her about was Heather.)
So, like jilted lovers -- angry, fooled lovers -- some of you are left questioning the whole game. Jenah, who hasn't won a thing, stays? Remember, little ones, a discarded contestant SO can always look back and find a litany of signs, and in this case there were plenty.
Heather = Count Dracula. Not that her face isn't versatile. One look at last week's Cover Girl shoot and it's clear she can hawk bronzer and sparkly lip gloss with a face like that. But her runway walk was pure Lurch: slumped, vacant, zombie-like. And that's when she was trying. It was not sexy. Not fierce. And it's an international mystery why no one called her out on it.
Heather = Sheltered. "ANTM's" international excursions have long struck us as gimmicks inspired by mondo "Survivor" ratings. But China exposes the girls flaws big-time, and Heather's is her total lack of street smarts (Do not write us that she has Asperger's. She is also a college student.) She loses her cab. She can't find her go-sees. She beats herself up horribly about her shortcomings, a sure sign she hasn't had to face them before.
Heather = Print Model. Last week, she just wasn't able to get a single line of the Cover Girl material down. Even when they were read to her. It was the first indication of serious holes in her skill set.
Of course, it's the last two that did her in. As pretty as Heather is, a working model has to read a map and follow a clock perhaps better than she can hold a pose, dozens of feet in the air. And the prize here is Cover Girl commercials; you can't talk the talk, no runway walk. (And what a week for surprising departures! The show announced Monday that Twiggy would flee, um, leave, after this cycle, to be replaced by Paulina Porizkova. Scheduling conflicts were cited, and Twiggs did just sign on to write a book of style tips for women older than 40...)
For next week: Will Jenah's hearty helping of humble pie this week help her change her sarcastic, some-might-say-arrogant ways next time around, when the girls head to Beijing? (Note to readers, in my seven-hour-train-ride-induced stupor Thanksgiving week, I incorrectly said the models had arrived in Beijing. They were in Shanghai. Obviously.)
Speaking of geography, is it just us or is China is bringing out Saleisha's inner Tracey Flick? She is channeling the cutthroat "Election" climber right down to the omnipresent smile and constant brown-nosing. This week, she sends Bianca sniffing in the wrong direction for a go-see; and she is always standing noticeably in front of the other girls in panel.
She's got her eye on the prize, and we've got her pegged as one of the final two.
-- LAVANYA RAMANATHAN
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