Previously: The models made a lightly soul-crushing music video! Marissa went home! Tash came back! Cody got nervous about Tash coming back! Let’s go!
Back at the Model House, India has a Best Video up and running again. She’s stoked that Paige was Star Girl, but India got called first in panel when it mattered. Tatiana jokes that India is officially a video girl now. India says she’s joking like that because Tatiana knows the two are serious competitors. India interviews Tatiana is cocky, but India is humble.
Tash is still in shock, but she’s glad that she won her way back into the house and she feels like she belongs there. Cody and Tash stand an awkward distance apart, chatting with forced smiles.Cody interviews that having Tash back is a disadvantage, because she feels like Tash overshadows her. Cody really liked having time alone to come into her own and gain more confidence. She feels like having Tash back could be a disadvantage. If Tash is used to taking the lead as a matter of course and never getting any pushback, she may not be crazy about the new dynamic either.
Rita says bosses have a responsibility to make their voices heard. Paige theorizes/hopes that it will be public speaking before a big crowd. Another model complains that they’re only having “Paige challenges” lately. Coryanne points out that trampolining and dancing were both Paige skills. The Models Aspirant wonder whether they’ll have to sing this time, since they’ve been dancing and hula hooping and doing that street performance thing where you paint yourself silver and act like a robot and anything but modeling.
Courtney says pass the crown to Paige. Paige, in an interview, informs us that “huge supermodels” can do a lot of things, including dancing, singing, and acting. Paige believes she could be America’s Next Top Model because “embodies” that and can do all of the dancing and singing and also make shoebox dioramas of key scenes from Johnny Tremaine. Paige, realizing that humility is also key, tells us she’s confident but cautious.
The models arrive at a studio to the always-comforting revelation that Ashley is here. Ashley says she’s an outspoken body activist and wants the Models Aspirant to think about having a cause. Or, in this case, about having a cause thrust upon them. They’re divided into two teams to espouse this cause.
Team One: India, Paige, Cody, and Tash
Team Two: Tatiana, Coryanne, and Courtney
And it turns out the models will be making a public service announcement for SlutWalk! Wow, I am impressed. Regardless of your feelings about SlutWalks, that is a bold choice for a national TV show aimed at adolescent and young adult women. The show fudges that SlutWalk was “started” by Amber Rose, which I don’t believe Ms. Rose actually claims. She organized a SlutWalk in Los Angeles, but that was after others had been in Toronto and elsewhere. In case you’re wondering, the first SlutWalk came about after a Toronto police officer (who has since apologized) said that if women don’t want to be sexually assaulted, they shouldn’t dress like sluts. And the good people of Toronto decided that being super polite could go to hell when it’s time to shout down sentiments like that. Many cities across the world have held SlutWalks since, and you can debate the effectiveness amongst yourselves.
And here’s Amber Rose now!
Coryanne loves Amber Rose’s activism and bossness. Amber Rose gives a lightning overview of victim-blaming and slut-shaming and being in control of your own body and about how women are raised to please a man instead of themselves by society. Holy shit, Top Model, good on you. Amber wants them to show the pain and the struggle and also the beauty.
The Models Aspirant will have to do a group shot and then each deliver a line in close-up that they’ll write. They’ll also get a piece of glass to smash. OK, that’s a lot in the hour they have to pull their acts together.
Ashley hands out information on SlutWalk for their PSA.
Paige diplomatically and appropriately interviews that SlutWalk is a great cause and one that they as women can understand. She wants to impress Ashley. Paige talks to her team about sexual misconduct on college campuses but also uses “slutty” unironically. Oh, Paige.
Coryanne interviews that she wasn’t aware of how many women are raped in college. She says she really wants to try hard because this is so important. This may quietly be turning into the cycle where Coryanne gets woke.
Tatiana wants to talk about an overall message and then derive their individual messages from that. Solid thinking. In an interview, Tatiana worries that Coryanne only performs well every other week. Tatiana does not wish to be tanked by Coryanne having one of her troublesome days. Tatiana wants to talk about the umbrella concept of “no judgment.” Courtney says she wants something deeper than “no judgment.” Tatiana says great, do that for your thing. Courtney says she’s just asking, which she totally isn’t. She’s concern-trolling to undermine Tatiana’s forward motion. Tatiana pushes forward trying to get everyone to write their own things and come up with a uniting concept. Courtney says she’s concerned because she can’t wind up in the bottom two again.
Cody says that Tash is so confident and it’s wigging her out, but she needs to focus on herself. Their team talks together to figure out their slogans Cody is struggling with “Just because I like her doesn’t mean he treated me wrong.” India says it lacks magic, and Paige refines it to “Just because I like her doesn’t mean I hate him.” The team is pleased with the wording and with the fact that they’re helping each other out. Are we maybe getting a little bit away from the concept?
Paige interviews that they’re working together so well that they’re not even worried about the time. She’s also glad that Team one is not fighting the way she suspects some teams are.
Back on Team Two, Courtney interrupts Tatiana, who is trying to sum up SlutWalks, to tell her that she has an idea. Tatiana suggests that it could wait until she’s done with her sentence, and Courtney says that it’s just going to go out of her brain and it was such a good idea. If you pause the show, you can spot the moment where Tatiana considers rolling up her SlutWalk information sheets and ramming them straight up Courtney’s nostrils.
Tatiana tells Team 2 they need energy. Coryanne would like to look fierce. Amber Rose wants to see who did their research.
Team 2 is up first! Each group will have 15 minutes to get their whole PSA in the can. They start with a group shot. They are completely, utterly unable to say “Don’t judge me” in unison. They deliver their lines…Like they are words to say in a row.
Tatiana says “Don’t judge me. I’m not walking down the street for your entertainment. I’m dressed for me, not you.” She says it very quickly, like she maybe has to defuse a bomb in the same block of time. Coryanne says “Don’t judge me just because I’m focusing on my career.” Courtney’s line is “Don’t judge me because I shop in both sections of the store.” OK, yes, agreed on all counts, but it’s a little weird.
During Coryanne’s single takes (“I do not want, nor do I need, a man to provide for me.”), Courtney bugs Tatiana because she has decided she wants to go right after Coryanne instead of third. It’s pointless for Courtney to push for that and pointless for Tatiana to say no, but Tatiana totally snaps into Annoyed Parent mode and is all “We had an order and we are keeping it BECAUSE I SAID SO.” Ashley spots the bickering and is not OK with it.
In her close-up, Tatiana elaborates at a much more manageable pace that catcalling is rude and disrespectful. Courtney’s line, that she wrote for herself is “Just because I decide to dress like the opposite gender does not change my sex nor my rights as a woman.” Courtney a) is dressed in a very feminine dress as she says this and b) maybe needs to do some side reading on terminology. Also, I would like an essay from Courtney on whether she chose this issue because she was trying to be non-binary-inclusive or if she’s making a move for Kyle’s old space on the show.
Tatiana is worried that their chemistry was off. And by “off,” she means “cold and dead like rocks centuries-buried under permafrost.” Team 2 seems to do a fine job of smashing their glass.
Team 1 is up! Paige coaches them to be strong and model-y, but beautiful. They too have 15 minutes.
They say “We as women stand united” together. Then one by one, they say “Demanding sexual respect,” “Today,” “Tomorrow,” “And for the rest of our lives.” Amber Rose turns to Ashley and hilariously deadpans “They’re a little too happy.”
Cody’s line is “My body. My choice. His lucky day.” Um. Amber notices the stunning bone structure of Tash and Cody. Cody rolls with “Just because I like her doesn’t mean I hate him.” Tash gives Cody direction and a line reading, which would get her ear-and-belt thrown out of some productions. Cody says that when Tash has an issue with her, she feels like Tash scolds her like their mom. Cody, you gotta get past this for this show and for the rest of your life.
India says “Clothing doesn’t hide my sex appeal. I’m sexy with clothing… And without.” Is that a tad off-message for SlutWalk? Ladies, did we really do that reading? Everyone says India is so cute. Which is true, but also currently irrelevant, if I have understood the challenge correctly.
Paige’s line is “My mind is as just sexy as my body.” Which is an excellent sentiment, but is it a SlutWalk message? I am genuinely asking. Amber is asking too — she doesn’t think they fully get it. Cody smashes the glass and the girl gang looks good.
Paige interviews that their energy was so high, she was positive they had it in the bag. Backstage, Tatiana says she’s happy that they got to do something for a good cause.
Amber and Ashley watch the PSAs. Team 2’s “Don’t Judge Us” is weird. India interviews that she doesn’t think Tatiana, Coryanne, and Courtney would do well working together, particularly on a project with such meaning and depth.
Ashley and Amber talk about how a supermodel has to have an understanding of how to speak. Amber says that “they” did not get it. So who won?
Group 1 was confident walking in and they knew the shots they wanted, but they had a lack of understanding about what SlutWalk stands for. Well, yeah. Amber says that Tash should say it’s her own lucky day, not some dude’s. I’m assuming there were more suggestions for the group after that.
Group 2 did their research and had great wording according to Ashley…but no confidence. (And P.S. they wanted to throttle each other.)
Amber says that actually knowing what the hell you’re talking about is important, so Group 2 wins. Tough to argue with her on that one. Oh, my goddess, that thing that Team 2 filmed will be played at a SlutWalk. Amber Rose, as an organizer of an event she wants to go well, looks exactly as enthused about that as you might expect. My guess is that it might get played on someone’s iPhone just off to the side.
Back at the house, Paige says she’s so overstimulated and exhausted that she’s not even tired anymore. Paige interviews that she can’t believe her group didn’t win. Paige, as you suspect she has been doing for the run of the show, says second place is the first to lose. She says she’s trying to stay positive, but it’s a bummer.
Paige has no idea if she’s sinking or swimming, safe or leaving. She really wants to kill the the photo shoot tomorrow because the competition is so stiff now. Paige has no way of knowing that she’s getting a metric fuck-ton of camera time this episode, so she’s nowhere near as nervous as she should be. If they’re giving you a one-show arc, it might be time to collect any knickknacks you have lying around the house.
Stacey McKenzie is here!
Time to dress up like ladybosses. Line up, ladies!
Paige: Britney Spears
Cody: Grace Jones (This is a little bit cheating. Tash looked awesomely Grace Jonesian last week.)
India: Katy Perry
Tash: Tina Turner
Tatiana: Tyra Banks!
Wait a minute. If I thought that Tyra had her hands in this competition for real, we could call this for Tatiana right now. If you were anointed as L’il Tyra on the old show, you had as good as sewn it up. But we are in a world of confusion and uncertainty this cycle, so let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.
Stacey says these character assignments are inspirations, not impersonations. That is and has always been, a lie.
Stacey razzes Tatiana about taking on Tyra. Tatiana knows that you have to get Tyra’s eyes down. India agrees that living up to Tyra would be the hardest thing to embody, because you never know who’s watching the dailies.
Paige tells us that the purpose of today’s shoot is to get the models to see themselves as women with massive influences by channeling these megabosses. Paige tells Stacey that she has memorized Britney’s songs and dance moves since she was a kid. Of course she did. Probably just in case she was in a competition like this. Paige says she’ll channel Britney, and Stacey says no, channel you, and then bring in some Britney. OK, Jesus, this challenge. It’s basically set up to knock out whoever they feel like.
Paige interviews that she likes seeing how nice and non-bitchy ladybosses Stacey and Amber Rose are. She says their attitudes are something to aspire to. Seriously: There is a whole lot of Paige this week.
Drew arrives. He says it’s go time and this is where the rubber meets the road.
Courtney-as-Madonna has learned a hard lesson from the High Life shoot and enthusiastically greets the photographer. Drew tells her to bring something new to the character. And then he tells her to get more raunchy and dirty.
Tatiana, watching the shoot, murmurs to India that Courtney is too animated and not enough model. Tatiana interviews that Courtney doesn’t have what it takes to win — just her attitude and the vibe that she gives off.
This shoot is a tough one on some of the models. Courtney is 25. Does she really have a frame of reference for the classic ‘80s Madonna she’s been styled as? Cody and Tash should have immediately gone home and looked up Grace Jones after being told that Tash looked like Grace Jones last week, or, arguably, all of them should know Grace Jones because of modeling history. But some of the models have current pop star references and some really don’t.
Tash is out to own everything she does and obliterate the idea that Cody is better than her. Drew calls her fab. Cody says she’s going to focus on making her own path.
Cody poses and Drew tells her to use her body and not her brain. He also tries to explain Grace Jones’s otherworldly body shapes. No, Cody. CRAZY, WILD BODY SHAPES. Not to mention a certain… intensity.
We all deserve a treat. Let’s have a little more Grace Jones.
It is one of the great tragedies of the Universe that Grace Jones and reality TV did not collide.
Coryanne as Beyoncé says she’s been listening and she’s trying. Drew shouts “Queen! Queen!” at her and then says Coryanne is a wet noodle.
Coryanne responds to the dirrection and tries to adjust, but Drew says she’s still weak. Drew interviews that Coryanne did not own it.
Paige is immediately chastened for doing a Vegas-style impersonation of Britney Spears.
She says “Got it” with a tightly controlled smile. Paige interviews that she’s still a model and she needs to be modelesque. She poses with an award in a reined-in and lackluster manner. I think they steered Paige wrong here. She just looks controlled and in-character pleased with herself. I think if they’d let her Britney out she might have actually found a vein of fun. Maybe.
Courtney gloats that Paige was a little pageant and smiling too much and not getting it and maybe doesn’t know how to not smile. It’s true. But, again, I think they could have gotten her closer if they’d let her enjoy it. Drew is trying to get Paige to do jaded and over it, which is not a thing that Paige really does. Drew interviews that Paige brought “nothing new” to the character. He doesn’t really mean that — he was coaching Paige with Britney Spears very much in mind. He means that Paige didn’t bring the element he wanted.
India looks gorgeous, as Tatiana acknowledges.
Stacey says India killed it.
Drew tells Tatiana, as Tyra, not to forget to smize. Drew asks for classic poses and Tatiana, for the first time, does not seem to have done her fashion background work.
Courtney says Tatiana was posing for senior prom photos. India twigs to the fact that she’s not hearing “Yes!” from Drew and the photographer during Tatiana’s shoot, which suggests that Tatiana is not hitting her usual levels of awesome.
She’s not hitting the iconic Tyra energy. Or, for that matter, Tyra’s mugging.
Groceries are here! Tatiana wants to know who the hell ate some of her ice cream. Courtney calmly says it was her, two spoonfuls, and genuinely doesn’t seem to be brazening it out — she says she told Tatiana she had a couple of bites when it happened, and that Tatiana seemed OK with it. But Tatiana has had a bad day and needs a reason to be mad at someone, so she says she thought Courtney was kidding and is retroactively furious at Courtney for taking her food without asking. She says it’s rude. India accurately interviews that Tatiana is flipping out more than is called for because her shoot didn’t go well. On the other hand, don’t eat her food. Courtney would like Tatiana to chill the hell out and offers to buy her more ice cream. Tatiana says Courtney has an attitude problem and P.S. don’t eat her food.
Rita says this week was all about being socially responsible. All about? If that’s where we are now, I have a feeling we’ll really be scraping for themes in the last few weeks.
The judges changed! I told you I would alert you if this happened. For this week, Law can’t be here, so Stacey is filling in. Blah blah we’re teaching the models to have Business, Boss, and Brand. So we pose as other people who are bosses. Sigh.
Tash’s Tina Turner only looks OK to me, but the judges adore it.
Rita wants to be friends with Tash and says she controlled the room. Stacey likes how hungry Tash is.
Coryanne has an over-the-shoulder shot as Beyoncé. It’s not great.
Coryanne says she wishes she’d exaggerated her body more. Stacey tells her to listen to direction when she gets it.
Rita (and I think) Cody has a cool angled shot as Grace Jones.
The other judges, not so much. Stacey says Cody was fantastic backstage, but not on set. Ashley says she’s taken better photos, and coaches Cody to stop focusing on her sister.
Rita says this photo was Courtney’s make or break.
Ashley and Rita like it, Drew does not.
Ashley likes Paige’s Britney Spears. Drew says her body looks perfect, but it’s a real estate agent head shot and the same face she always makes. Cold, Drew. Rita doesn’t see
Cold, Drew. Rita doesn’t see boss or a power moment.
Advantage aside, India’s Katy Perry looks great.
Rita says it looks like a Rimmel ad. High praise indeed on this heavily Rimmel-sponsored show. Drew tells India that her her face is great, but she needs to watch her body position.
Tatiana got Tyra. Wow, is it lackluster.
It doesn’t look like Tyra or like Tatiana is on a red carpet. Ashley says Tatiana is coasting. Wow, this photo shoot is a bloodbath. Stacey says don’t get comfortable. Ashley tells Tatiana to get naked in front of a mirror and throw her hair around to find her wild side.
Everyone loves Tash’s face and attitude and A game. They also lurve India. Paige is boring the snot out of them. Tatiana and Coryanne did not deliver. The Models Aspirant return!
Best Photo: It’s a tie! Tash and India! That’s super weird! Unless you’re story arcing. Then we have:
It’s down to Coryanne and Paige! Paige and Coryanne!
Paige has great energy and can move, but her photos are one-note. Coryanne is beautiful but isn’t bringing boss energy. Who stays!? Coryanne will live to pose another day.
OK, they telegraphed the daylights out of that by giving Paige so much sudden camera time this week. Paige interviews that she was shocked because she’s never been in the bottom two before and that the thing that hurts the most is she was trying really hard.
Paige. Listen to me. I have been hard on you in part because, while I am a very different style of dorkmeister achiever, I definitely am and have been a dorkmeister achiever. And now, Paige, I can explain this loss to you, this loss and so much more as you move out into the world.
There will be times, Paige, just like this one, when you will be the smartest girl and the best-prepared girl and the girl who wants it the most and follows all the rules and works the hardest and you still won’t win. 1 And sometimes — definitely not always, but sometimes — that outcome will be correct. It might not be fair, not in a quantifiable way that you can tally up and document, but it will still be correct.
And you need to learn to savor those losses, Paige, or at least to taste them, because one thing they don’t tell you in all the honors classes and the résumé-building extracurricular activities is that your achievements add lines to your c.v. and your obituary, but they don’t make you into your best self.
What really shapes you into a better, fuller human being, Paige, are the times when you have to pull yourself back up after you fail.
It’s the times when you really, truly, tried your best and sweated your hardest and still fell short; the times when you felt the prize slip out of your fingers just as you thought you were crossing the finish line. And maybe it’s the sudden understanding of what a vicious sense of humor the universe can have that hurts the most, or maybe it’s the realization that your best — your true, full-on, flat-out, vulnerable best — simply wasn’t good enough and perhaps never will be. But either way, absorbing that wrecking ball to the gut and figuring out how to take another step will matter more to your life than your win ever could have. I know praise is sweet, sweet nectar, Paige, and I understand how deeply you crave it. But it’s not praise that truly matters. That’s your bedtime treat. The meal is fighting your way back into believing that you can still have what you want after the world has told you, over and over, that you can’t. Because that fight is where you sort out which things you were only doing because you thought good, smart girls like you were supposed to do them and which things you’re doing because they feed your soul.
It’s the times when you have to grit your teeth and ask for help because you can’t think and achieve your way through a crisis this time. It’s the times when you open yourself to the terror of giving your whole heart to someone new after the last person smashed it. Or when you take on the task of scourging yourself into a better person after you comprehend how thoroughly you’ve shattered someone else’s heart.
And it’s the times when you have to figure out how to scramble back to your feet and get your head on straight after you have absolutely, completely, totally fucked up. Because sometimes, no matter how much you think and plan and rehearse, you will not even fail; you will just plain fuck up. And, scary though that thought is, you will probably get some of your best badges of courage and maybe at least one new lease on life and definitely some of your best stories from those horrible, terrifying, unthinkable fuckups. That’s where you learn things, Paige. That’s where you become someone who’s more than a few lines on a résumé or a tombstone.
You have a good heart and a good brain, Paige. Those are both incredible assets and you’re right to cherish them. And one of the best things you can do is give them the engine they deserve by developing the courage to step into more situations where you might not win or get a plaque or even get any recognition at all. Just because they might be interesting. Just because you want to. Just because the consequences might be worth the finding out.
You did your best, Paige. Enjoy the hell out of being seventh place, or sixth loser, or however you’d like to put it. Dance without choreography. Kiss a few people you’re not supposed to. Find the thing that you love more than achievement itself and pursue it with all the boundless energy that used to go into your quest for perfection. Because perfection is a wonderful thing in the abstract, but in the real world all it does is tempt you into strangling the good. You’re too smart to keep falling for that.
You’re primed to have a great life, Paige. I hope you’ll take some of the messy risks involved in having a life that is amazing. Best of luck to you. Get out there and fuck up hard.
OK, remaining Models Aspirant, we are down to the final six. Rita says it goes to a whole other level now. I don’t know why that is specifically true at the six-models-left mark, but I will not question her logic. Get ready to Whole Nother Level it up.
The Models Aspirant experience a day in Rita’s life, including paparazzi. I hope this includes training on deploying mustache disguises. The also shoot a Paper cover and Tatiana and Courtney tell each other to shut the fuck up. You bet I’ll be there.
Hillary Clinton would have something to say on this point. ↩