Previously: Tyra was looking for both a social media model and a traditional model! There were New judges! Philipp Plein was a dick! The final 14 models stomped the runway! And here are our new credits! Wooo! Holy bees and ants, there are a lot of models when you start out. So many models to keep track of.
It’s the first morning in the big ANTM house! Marissa is excited. Giah can’t believe she’s in the final 14. It’s a dream come true! Justine also can’t believe it. Nor can she believe the size of this house. She lived in a one-bedroom place with her whole family. She is the only model in Top Model history to think they have a ton of sleeping space.
Tatiana loves it that Top Model is back in New York, her hometown. She thinks it will give her an advantage. I guess if they have a scavenger hunt or something, sure. Tatiana is here – say it with me – to win. But is she here to make friends?
Whoa, no more Tyra Mail! There’s a RitAlert on the TV!
Technology brings so many changes. Rita says the competition is about to get fierce and it’s all about the runway. Here comes the first challenge! Giah says it’s time for her to be a boss and she’s ready for it.
The Model Bus pulls up in Harlem, and here is fashion icon Stacey McKenzie! She’s an actual top model and on Canada’s Next Top Model and, more to our point here, she’s a runway coach. Stacey lists her credits for the contestants. That’s weird that they made her do that herself. Anyway, she’s walked for all the big designers (Alexander McQueen! Betsey Johnson!) and she’s here to help the aspiring models bring it.
WHOA NELLY, Stacey McKenzie starts walking and your brain suddenly goes “Oh. Yes. She walks better than I ever will,” and just accepts that reality, doesn’t even fight. Stacey is 5’10” and in heels that are another foot tall and she’s on a sidewalk and she seems to have been engineered for bipedalism in the same way that hummingbirds are engineered for flying. I bet she can make a trenchant remark and leave a party like nobody’s business. Stacey says some of the models need more help. So, as you do in times of crisis, she brings in voguers. The ordinary guys just sitting on a nearby stoop transform into the House of Mugler vogueing crew and vogue on over.1
Paige says she just about lost her shit when she saw House of Mugler do that. Paige just about loses her shit on many occasions, but this one is a good pick.
Stacey says the voguers are here to help the models with movement and energy. I hope there will be a vogue-off, but no such luck. She splits the models into two squads, and there will be a walk-off. OK, fine. The winning squad gets Stacey’s coaching to get runway ready for their first photo shoot and “major runway show” tomorrow. That is a prize worth winning.
To demonstrate, Stacey and the House of Mugler walk better than any of us ever will. I’m going just to try to grow wheels or something.
Coryanne interviews that she feels confident about her walk and her game plan is to squash her enemies and shine over everyone.
Coryanne vs. Tatiana! The voguers say Coryanne has some legs on her. They are correct. Coryanne says she wants to do this for her mom. Who was supermodel Stephanie Roberts, in case you missed that last episode. There will be a refresher or two.
Paige vs. Cody! House of Mugler wants to see more drama. Tash interviews that her biggest competition is her sister, since they share a face and stuff. That logic doesn’t really hold, but OK. At least the show is acknowledging that the twins think individually. Tash wants to smash these other girls and win. Back on the walkoff, Paige does some one-handed vogueing around her face.
Binta vs. India! Stacey loves Binta’s look and confidence and posing. Binta is one to watch in this thing. Unless they’re doing another high-flyer-laid-low storyline. Yes, there is such a thing as having seen too much Top Model.
Tash vs. Marissa! Stacey reminds them to be strong and powerful. May she remind us all.
Courtney vs. Cherish! Stacey says Cherish is feisty and has attitude.
Gia vs. Krislian! Stacey says that Krislian is a sexpot, but has good attitude. Stacey says Krislian was petite and at first looked like a commercial model. But then she rocked the runway like a high fashion model! (New viewers: Looking like someone who could make a good living as a commercial or catalog model is viewed as something akin to a goblin curse on ANTM.)
Kyle vs. Justine! The voguers can tell that Justine is nervous. Justine interview-confirms that she gets terribly nervous about her walk. “This is a battle,” Stacey yells. “Bring it!”
Kyle interviews that her runway walk is her weakest point as a model and that if she wouldn’t cast herself. Stacey begs to differ. She says that if she could get her hands on Kyle, she would bring out some fierceness.
The winner is… Squad one. Justine is mad. Eh.
Stacey tells the models that they have a house with a freaking runway right there in it so use it and practice. Solid advice.
After the challenge, the models hang out in the back yard having deep conversations. This is a terrible idea. (Well, a terrible idea for the models. It’s a great idea if you’re a TV producer who needs some anger juice.) Are you ready to get uncomfortable?
Paige interviews that she was in a Catholic school with very low diversity and she wants to get out there. She says to the group in the yard that she wants to get out there and meet people and learn and use her privilege to help those who don’t have it. And if you’re wondering why those excellent sentiments are making you uncomfortable, it’s because Paige is delivering them in monologue form to a group of women of color who are patiently listening to her talk and talk and talk about her own thoughts and desires. I am not a woman of color, so I can’t be certain, but I’m guessing this feels similar to those times when a well-intentioned progressive dude interrupts you to make some points about feminism.
(Hey, Paige! These thoughts and feelings you have are good ones! We need more people in the world with these thoughts! But if you want to put them into action and learn about the thoughts of women of color, you need to practice stepping aside and being quiet so those women of color can speak.)
Paige says to the group that black lives do matter, which is a hell of a low bar for human decency. But we are in such a place right now that not everyone is hitting that bar, so good on you, Paige. Just remember that black voices matter too. Giah and one of the twins (Sorry!) thank Paige for saying that, and I understand why, and that makes me sad. Giah tells Paige that Paige is the kind of person Giah is talking about when she tries to convince her friends that white people can be good. How’s that for a gut-punch, white people?
This is probably the point where you think it’s about to get super uncomfortable, and you are correct, but for the wrong reasons.
Binta interviews that she believes in this world that no one will be happy until we learn to share the world’s wealth together. Hey! There’s a new perspective. In the yard, Binta reminds the group that she is from Africa and has seen Presidents who just kill all their people. Binta has yanked the talking stick away from Paige and says that when people don’t relate to others, they treat them differently and that we need to work on everyone treating everyone well. Tash or Cody (I am SO SORRY!) says yes, but there is a pressing need to clear up this issue [of black Americans being shot by the police at routine traffic stops] first.
Binta says yes, black lives matter, 100%, and she gets the history of this country. Giah says no, the official history of this country is not reliable where black people are concerned. (OK, what Giah actually says is “Everything is a lie.”) Giah says that Binta knows where she comes from, and that black people from America don’t. Binta yells “You come from Africa!” Giah says she does not, and Binta yells “Yes, you do! Then where the fuck do you come from?”
Paige interviews that she didn’t instigate it, but she did bring up the hot-button Black Lives Matter issue, so she is partially at fault for this yard fight. Also, she admits that Binta scares the crap out of her.
Binta then tells the black women in the group they are from Africa. The Americans object, saying that yes, they have ancestry from there, but they identify as Americans first. Binta yells that they’re from Africa. The American models try to make the not drinks-in-the-yard-friendly complex point that because of the history of slavery, a black American who isn’t descended from recent immigrants doesn’t have the same sense of being “from” a specific place in Africa. Not to mention possible blended ancestry and also they grew up here. But because they are having drinks in the yard, what keeps coming out is “We don’t know where we’re from!” which makes Binta keep yelling “You’re from Africa!” and the Americans keep yelling that they are not.
Binta is still yelling that they’re from Africa, slightly undercut by the fact that she’s done some sort of cleansing mask and still has bits of it clinging to her face. No one mentioned it? The other models keep saying they’re not from Africa, which, in fairness, they are not. Like I get Binta’s point, but she’s demanding that they feel an automatic connection to a place that most or all of them have never been. Binta says they’re living in La-La Land. Presumably, she means a state of unreality rather than Los Angeles. Marissa interviews that Binta has a strong personality.
Here’s the weird thing: We just established some serious friction between Binta and many of the black women in the house, but the show is using it to establish enmity between Binta and Paige. (And yes, Paige did have enough sense to stay the hell out of that last argument.)
Thank goodness: Stacey McKenzie comes to the house. Binta still has bits all over her face, though someone seems to have given her enough of a heads-up that she’s gotten a lot of them off. The three things they are working on are, Stacey McKenzie reminds us, boss, business, and branding. How about barfing out pointless branded catchphrases?
Stacey talks about seeing Madonna and Jean Paul Gaultier in a photograph and realizing that “model” could be a career. Then we hear about her going from agency to agency and none of them taking her because she looked too different. But then one in Paris did take her! And she went to dinner with the modeling agency people but she had no money, so her dress cost a dollar and her shoes cost a dollar. And the head of the agency had been away when she was hired, but he came to that dinner and asked why they had hired on such a hideous girl. OK, that is a horrible story, and that guy is a turbo-dick. I hope Stacey sent him a cheery little note every time she made a ton of money that he did not get a percentage of.
We cut to an interview with Krislian, who totally feels this Stacey McKenzie story because she too is always hearing that she is not right: She is too sexy, too short, too commercial.
Back to Stacey! She had decided that she would go to just one more agency, and if that one rejected her, she would quit the business. But they took her on and sent her on a go-see! And she booked it! And it was for a Jean Paul Gaultier runway show! And then she was getting ready backstage at the runway show and a woman was getting her hair and makeup done and she asked if she could have Stacey’s legs. And it was Madonna! In the Jean Paul Gaultier show! Both of them from the photograph that first inspired her to become a model! And then Madonna said “Seriously, I said give me your fucking legs.”
Stacey says believe in yourself. And I would guess she also believes in vision boards, because come on.
Tash says that after Stacey came over, there was no more snapping at each other. Giah interviews that her team won the runway competition, so they get a special runway training session from Stacey. Who is fantastic, but it’s OK if you just felt a pang of longing for Miss J.
Binta says she is definitely better than Paige, and that when she, Binta, goes on the runway, there is no fear at all. Paige says Binta is huge competition, but runway is what Paige kicks ass at. We cut to Stacey telling Paige not to take horse steps.
Justine interviews that all of Squad 2 was trying to peek out the window to absorb the knowledge that Squad 1 was getting. Smart move, Squad 2. Stacey seems to be giving some very specific coaching. This is a huge advantage.
Stacey gets her wish and coaches Kyle. Kyle interviews that runway models it looks so simple and it isn’t; they just make it look perfect. Kyle is not happy with her walking. Giah interviews that Kyle was stiff. She wonders if Kyle is trying to find a balance between being a model and being herself. I think I see why Giah gets so much interview time. Kyle promises Stacey McKenzie that she will practice tonight. Stacey tells the models to kill it, slay it, and murder it.
The next day, the Model Bus pulls up at the Marquee. Drew is there with a bunch of hot guys for their first runway show. But wait! The hot guys are not just there to learn about new fashion trends! At the end of the runway, each model will trust fall into the arms of the wad of guys and have her picture taken right there, right then! BaBAM! First photo shoot with Peter Henket!
Backstage, Binta waits for the stylist. Paige is excited and tries on a sparkly silver jacket. Binta scolds her and Coryanne and tells everyone to put the clothes back. Binta interviews that at a real show, Paige would get her head caved in for pulling out clothes and not putting them back in the right place. Binta is probably wrong to take it upon herself to do the scolding, but I’m guessing she’s right that Paige would be out on her teakettle if this were a real show. Have you ever met a wardrobe mistress? They will gut you from sternum to groin, and you will thank them for it.
Law Roach is here! He will be their stylist. Tatiana says that’s intimidating because she wants to impress him. And one of his faves will be here too: It’s Zendaya! She will be Law’s inspiration tonight.
Zendaya says that Law is her first and only stylist.
Paige says she’s been a fan of Zendaya for years. Paige has been a fan of almost everything for years. She is not skimping on the enthusiasm. Justine and Cody are also pretty dang thrilled. Marissa wants to be just as boss as Zendaya.
Wait, we’re not done being delighted! The best model today – as decided by Zendaya – will get a pic with Zendaya! Which Zendaya will – wait for it – post on social media! ZOMFG! Justine interviews that social media is how she gets jobs. Social media is her LIFE. OK, Justine!
Zendaya is looking for someone can think on her toes and come with her A game. Roger that!
Giah goes out first. Drew says she’s fab. Paige is next. Binta says Paige can’t stand next to Binta as a model. Binta hopes she outshines Paige 100%. Paige gets scolded by Drew for not selling the clothes when it’s time for her photo shoot. Paige interviews that Binta has a strong boss diva appeal, but it’s not her cup of tea and she doesn’t care for it. Have we established this rivalry yet? Where exactly did it come from? Just both of them liking to talk?
Sweet hot damn, Kyle wasn’t lying when she said she’d practice her runway walk. Kyle looks hotter than the earth’s molten core during her pose with the guys.
The other models love her. A few have strange new feelings.
Courtney needs to give her legs more dimension in her pose, then nails it. Law loves her face. Cherish gives them Nicole Kidman. Marissa is not nervous at all. She toys with her hair out and looks glamorous. Law and Zendaya imitate her movie-star posing.
Cody has a slow and collected walk. She says it feels like she’s floating with the guys carrying her. She likes being out there on her own without her sister overshadowing her. Tash is not so much overshadowing as freaking out backstage, but she remembers Stacey’s coaching and works it on the runway. Drew likes her.
India does well. Tatiana has a great body but doesn’t interact with the guys. Justine feels super confident going out. But then at the stage dive part, she opens her legs up. WAY up.
Law is backstage desperately coaching her to stop that and announces that he does not wish to see her pussycat again. Justine thinks she killed it. In a way, she did.
Coryanne says that diving into men is exciting. Marissa interview-snarks that Coryanne’s mom was a supermodel – And she scare-quotes “supermodel,” Daaaamn. – but Marissa thinks that word starts to lose its power after you’ve heard it 60 times. Coryanne moves too fast and doesn’t do as well as Drew and Law hoped, given her pedigree. Yeah, that’s fighting against Coryanne now that she’s in. Drew says Coryanne wasn’t comfortable with her body.
Krislian doesn’t open her eyes enough. Drew hopes there is even one shot where she doesn’t have them closed. Krislian says the lights were blinding her. She’s afraid she’ll be sent home.
Zendaya says Kyle killed it like a boss. Kyle wins the challenge and gets the coveted selfie. Which Zendaya will post to social media! Kyle is proud of herself. She says she barely has any followers and she loved being that close to Zendaya. Kyle clearly thinks she’s supposed to be a little wolfish about it for the cameras, but when they’re posing Kyle is being very polite and careful about her distance. The other models envy the hundreds of thousands of followers that Kyle is about to get.
Paige says she was starstruck the entire day by Zendaya. She says when she sees stars in real life it’s like an out-of-body experience. Binta, standing next to Paige, tells Coryanne that some people are just too fucking much, and you don’t have to act like a fangirl. Tatiana agrees with Binta and says that “people” didn’t need to rush in and touch all the clothes. It seems like maybe Paige was a bigger pain in the butt backstage than we saw. But why wouldn’t we see that?
Paige says she is just an extra person. Binta suggests being extra for a purpose. Paige says she is not going to tone down who she is. She also feels she is being attacked for who she is. She says the phrase “who I am” over and over, so many times, and counting the recurrences of the phrase would be like trying to count stars or grains of sand. Paige has decided that her deepest conviction is to be true to herself and that such a thing is mutually exclusive with ever adjusting her behavior for another person’s comfort level. There is no right side in the Paige/Binta argument. They are both being irksome. The only right side is held by whatever models are walking the runway or reading a book or holding séances or whatever thing they can think of that is not participating in this conversation.
Paige interviews that she does not want to upset or offend anyone, but she would like to see Binta go away.
The models worry about panel. Courtney points around the room saying who did well enough at the runway challenge to be fine and not going home. That is always a dangerous game, and I can’t believe Courtney got away with it. Coryanne says she doesn’t want to let her supermodel friends down or let her mom down. Justine thinks she did well enough to stick around, but then a second later worries that maybe she didn’t.
Back upstairs, Paige, whose strongest suit may not be letting things go, asks Kyle if she was being too extra today. Kyle dodges the question by saying that she was too in her own head to notice. (Psst. Paige. That’s a yes.) Paige, taking no hints from other people’s body language again, says she was so not too extra, and what even is extra, anyway? Marissa comes in to say everyone loves Paige’s energy, and don’t listen to Binta.
Marissa interviews that she thought Paige would be snotty and really isn’t like that. But she also isn’t a supermodel. Not at all. Oooooh, Marissa with the slow burn.
Panel time! (After some lovely B-roll footage. A lot of their nighttime New York shots are gorgeous this cycle.)
Rita Ora sums up the training and challenge and then re-introduces Ashley, Law, and Drew. The judges are all still happy because they haven’t driven each other crazy yet. Hey! Prizes!
India goes first and they just go ahead and wham up her photo right away. Ashley doesn’t love her face and tells her to get to know her angles, giving her a few practical pointers, but Rita loves the shot. Rita seems to be taking on the traditional Tyra role of being the one who always says something nice about the photo.
Binta looks like she’s being hoisted above a party, very rock star. Law wishes she had a slight bend in her arm, but loves it. Kyle won the walk challenge and Law says no, she won the BOSS challenge. And yeah, her picture is smoking. Drew confirms that all her film was great. Well practiced, Kyle!
Justine has a fierce face, but her wide-open legs do look weird. Drew pulls a Jay Manuel on her and calls her a flailing fish in a net who was hard to direct. Drew pulls it back out by giving some actual advice and tells Justine to make eye contact with the photographer for connection.
Tash looks high-end and sexy. Drew loves it that she grabbed the guys while they held her up. Cherish looks like a surprised fairy.
She has also angled herself so that her midsection looks off. Whoa! Rita is not going to play always nice after all. She says this is not a good angle and not a good photo.
Tatiana has a soft face. Law says he put her in that dress to challenge her, but she shut him up.
Coryanne is not selling the clothes or herself. She again says she doesn’t want to disappoint her mom or her mom’s friends. We should maybe get Coryanne someone to talk to.
Paige has a gorgeous face, but her leg position is off. Giah looks supermodel and Ashley loves it.
Marissa also looks lovely. Drew says her film was all so great they had a hard time picking a shot. Courtney looks androgynous and fantastic. Very ‘70s rock star minus the coke.
Krislian looks too sexy. She says she felt a disconnect from the photographer and didn’t really understand his direction. Rita and Law tell her to cut the excuses and take the critique.
Cody is so nervous that she’s crying. Rita asks Cody if she always felt overshadowed by her twin. Oh, dear. The Tyra Banks Instant Therapy tradition also continues. Law has Tash come and hug Cody. Law is so sweet. The producers high-five.
And then – dang – Cody’s photo is so stunning that the other models clap.
Rita says Cody needs to come out of this competition knowing who she is.
Time for the judges to confer! Drew confirms that Cody had “hundreds” more great pictures in the bag. Rita loves Courtney, but Ashley says she still lacks something. Coryanne did not do so well. Krislian is too sexy, and Drew reports that working with her was a nightmare and he would never have her back. But Justine was disappointing. Is she too young? Hmm.
Backstage, Coryanne freaks. She’ll never feel confident like she did before again. OK, everyone back in!
Best photo: Cody! We have intriguing shots of Tash being happy for her and then not so much.
And then we have:
Binta – Of course they ranked Binta and Paige next to each other. And – Ooh! – Paige is higher!
Kyle (Wait. I call bullshit. How is Kyle ranked this low after such high praise for the shot?)
And Coryanne and Justine are the two on the chopping block. They had high hopes for Coryanne. She needs to be more than her legacy. Justine is young and was so elementary. Who goes? Who stays?
Coryanne is in! Aww, poor Justine is out. I hope she called her mom at some point.
Rita tells Justine again how young she is. And 18 is young, but not for a model. Rita says she was selling sneakers at 18. Since Rita is now only 26, that is impressive. Also, Rita seems to have a Kabbalah tattoo on her back.
Justine is trying to be positive, but she’s sad to get knocked out so early. She wanted this really really badly.
I’m disappointed that we don’t have the traditional group shot from which one model fades out each week, but otherwise a solid show! (Solid on the Top Model scale, not the Black Mirror scale.) We have some promise here!
Next time: Hold onto your butts. It is makeover week. AND IT IS ALSO NUDE PHOTO WEEK. Can we pack that much meltdown potential into one show and not all collapse into a singularity? By gum, we’ve got to try. I’ll see you here.
My spell check, for the record, accepts “voguers,” but not “vogueing.” I mean really. ↩