America’s Next Top Model: Once Upon a Tyra

Makeovers! Is there any better word during the ANTM season? OK, for the five straight dudes who watch the show, it would be “bikinis,” but guess what? We have those too! Everybody wins! Except the models with crappy makeovers. Plus Tyra gives young girls everywhere nightmares about a giant pink fairy-demon with glowing eyes that will give them bad weaves in their sleep.

Before we get to the makeovers, it’s time to play “guess the bottom two” based on screen time in the opening segment. As the girls serve up some post-judging angst, Brittany chafes over being called “pretty.” Yeah, I hate that. Life is so unfair to the pretty.

Oh no! My new fave Analeigh says something in interview about needing to up her personality! This is a bad sign. She hasn’t gotten in any arguments and doesn’t have a penis, so any screen time is a bad omen. Please be quiet, Analeigh.

The girls have a surprise waiting for them. Tyra! A real live Tyra, not just the millions of photos plastered over every available surface. She’s wearing a tiara. At first I assumed it was just part of her outfit because let’s face it, she’s worn much weirder, but she’s actually brought tiaras for everybody. It’s a princess party! OK, I have no idea what that is, but I guess it involves tiaras, pizza, and arranging to have yourself spewn from the uterus of a queen.

Tyra’s there to find out more about the girls. Ha! Of course not! She’s there to talk about herself. She tells the tale about getting to her early twenties, aka the brink of hagdom. Suddenly, designers in Europe did not want to work with Tyra’s recently acquired bootiliciousness. So you know what Tyra did as the empowered woman that she is? She had her mommy talk to them. Seriously.

antm091608_1.jpgTyra’s mom told those mean designers who demanded Tyra lose fifteen pounds to shove it. Then she retooled Tyra’s career for Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated (what Tyra calls “girl next door” with a straight face). It’s exactly what Gloria Steinem would have done. The moral of this little fairy tale: If high fashion modeling demands you conform to an unrealistic body image (that you conformed to and made money off of for years), leave it for cheesecake modeling that promotes yet another equally unrealistic body image, profit from that for an additional ten years, then get a TV show and peddle the whole mess as parable of female empowerment while reinforcing infantilizing princess fantasies.

OK, Tyra’s interpretation of her little story was a leetle bit different. To her it meant “makeovers!” Yes, that whole unconnected pointless story was to introduce the makeovers. I know what your thinking, “Can Tyra make this even more cringe-worthy?” Yes she can.

Enter Miss J as the Evil Witch from Snow White, ready to give her the poison apple. What better way to follow Tyra’s pep talk on empowerment and body size that by acting out a fairy take that contains both a passive, unconscious heroine AND food issues. Bravo. I really wish Miss J had offered her a slice of pizza rather than an apple.

They do a whole painful skit of the fairy tale where Tyra engages in some “ACTING!”  She even manages to emote when she’s asleep. BJay plays Prince Charming – I assume Nigel refused – and goes the whole nine yards including kissing Tyra to wake her up.


Deep down, we always suspected Prince Charming was gay. The woodsman, on the other hand …

The whole thing is so randomly crazy and unconnected to makeovers. If you feel the need to stick in a fairy tale, and there’s absolutely no logical reason to do so, wouldn’t Cinderella be more appropriate? Cinderella actually got a makeover, thanks to her godmother and gay animal friends. Snow White became a maid and fell asleep. I should stop thinking about this; the producers clearly have.

Afterwards, we hear more from Analeigh. No! Be quiet! Every word you say in interview puts you one step closer to the bottom two! I am worried. The gals claim not to be worried as they head to the salon (nice segue, eh?).  They start to worry when the mirrors are covered and HOLY SWEET BABY FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER WHAT IS THAT?


Since I don’t remember huffing any paint thinner, it must be Tyra on some kind of cracked-out Fairy Godmother kick. Wait, she calls herself the “Good Fierce Witch.” She’ll narrate the makeovers in a strange accent that’s part English, part Glinda, and completely painful. Oh, you’ve made over your career alright, Good Fierce Witch.

Let’s just get on with the makeovers shall we? I was sure Marjorie would get extensions, but the scary-eyed witch surprised me. Marjorie simply went brunette. It’s pretty boring, and she looks more mannish. By the way, the show always cheats a bit and makes the “before” photo the god-awful mugshot from the auditions.


Of course she looks better than she would after a 3:00 AM DUI. So I went the extra mile and used the “before” pictures on the ANTM website, because I have no life I love you guys.


By the way, they play the French accordian music for Marjorie again, because she’s so gosh darn Gallic.

Joslyn doesn’t get any major changes, just a longer, fuller weave. It’s a common theme for the makeovers. Major sighs of relief a few of the girls, including Isis and Brittany. They get basically the same treatment.




Well, Brittany should be breathing a sigh of relief but she’s still freaking out over the “pretty” thing, to the point of crying. I know I’ve cried my eyes out over being called pretty. To be fair, Brittany realizes that “pretty” is a leading cause of death on ANTM, right up there with “talking back” and “catalog.”  Miss J tells her she’s just got to work against type. Maybe put a piece of her weave under her pillow and hope the Fierce Witch comes to visit.

Sheena’s makeover is also fairly understated. Nightmare Glinda calls it a de-Kimora-izing. In the end her hair is straighter and blonder. I notice she has learned to hunch her shoulders and de-emphasize her boobs, like Tyra told her. Remember girls, your tits are a source of shame, at least until you start to model for Victoria’s Secret.


Lauren Brie and Analeigh both go blonder. In Lauren Brie’s case, super white blonde. It’s not a huge difference, except now she’s in danger of disappearing against beige backgrounds. Analeigh’s not as blonde, but it makes a bigger difference. She comments  her brown hair suited her shy personality, like other famously shy brunettes: Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Tila Tequila.



Clark goes in the reverse color direction, from  blonde to brunette. Lauren Brie jokes she won’t be friends with her if she’s not blonde. Cheer up, Lauren Brie, only the curtains are changing, you can still be friends with the carpet. Here’s Clark’s before and after.


Kidding! That’s Jessica Simpson. Clark still reminds me of her, minus a few cup sizes and without the bad singing. This is Clark.


I knew McKey would be getting her red hair chopped off. She doesn’t quite get the Mia Farrow treatment (no one does). Instead, she gets a black bob that looks like a hat. A very hairy hat.


Samantha’s hair also gets hacked off, but it looks really good. Out of everybody that had a dramatic change, I think Samantha’s came out the best.


I’ve been watching the sci fi show Primeval on BBC America (dumb but fun- the show. not BBC America), and Samantha with her new haircut is a dead ringer for an actress on that show, Hannah Spearritt.


The Hannah we know and love from Alaska does not fare so well in the makeover department. Scary Fairy Tyra explains she want to make Hannah edgy, something she imagines will be accomplished with Nikeysha’s old haircut. Instead of edgy, she looks like an accountant, or would if they had those in Alaska. I think they still barter with beaver pelts and gold dust, don’t they?


Well, I saved the best for last. And by that, of course, I mean the worst. Since Elina’s possibly the hottest girl there, Tyra does her best to destroy that. They call in a special master weavologist to wreak havoc. Even before the makeover starts, Elina was freaking out – girl has control issues. BJay was really very nice about talking her through everything. Not nice enough to stop the impending hair disaster, but nice.

The hair itself? Ever watch the Simpsons and find yourself thinking “Wow, that Side Show Bob is one hot slut!” Or say to yourself “You know who would make a mighty fine looking woman? Carrot Top.” You haven’t? There’s a reason for that. This reason:


Witchy Tyra explains that it will make Elina look less like Angelina Jolie. In that case, boner-killing mission accomplished; we are hell and gone from Angelina. And just wait until vegan Elina finds out the weave is made from yak hair.

In the end, the makeovers were accomplished with only two criers, Elina and Samantha. The girls go back to the house where a Tyra mail announces that “sometimes even models have to work the late shift.” They make the brilliant deduction that they will have to work at night. You can practically hear the isolated synapses firing.

When the model bus pulls up to Wal-Mart, my first thought was that the CW’s money woes had become so bad, they were leasing out the models as night crews. The night manager would lock them in and come back in the morning. Instead, they will be shilling for both CoverGirl and Walmart. It’s the corporate whoring version of DVDA.

antm091608_19.jpgSutan (Tyradential: ANTM make-up artist) and a very glowy Crissy Barker (Tyradential: Great with Nigel fetus) meet them inside. Is there anyone associated with the production that can’t get screen time? I think the dude that drives the model bus is on the next episode. Anyhow, they explain that girls will shoot a video promoting CoverGirls new display gizmo for finding your foundation shade. From the looks of it, you just stick your hand next to the color spots to see if it matches. Wow, CoverGirl, that’s really some 21st century technology you’ve got going on there. Are you sure the models can explain it?

The models not only have to explain the whole make-up system, they must ad-lib the whole commercial. The challenge winner gets her photo slapped up on the Wal-Mart web site, the video posted on CoverGirl, and a Wal-Mart gift card for $1000. I think you can buy a Wal-Mart employee for $1000 and still have money left over for a case of mac and cheese.

This challenge wound up surprising me. Some of the girls I expected to suck, didn’t, and some of the girls I thought would do great, sucked. Hannah was annoyingly chirpy, as usual, but she does a good job, even if she sticks to the stereotypical white girl shades. Valley Girl Samantha also pulls it off.

My poor Analeigh not only can’t remember what the matching system is called, she dressed like a depressed hippy. At the end she channels Sheena and throws in a “yo.” I also thought Elina would excel, since she seems like she has a couple brain cells to rub together, but she runs out of time before she can stammer out anything intelligible. I blame the weave.


“Oh, is this Wal-Mart? I thought it was 1992 and I was going to see Pearl Jam.”

At the judging, Sutan and Crissy tell Marjorie that she forgot to say the store name. I notice for the first time that Marjorie has mighty pointy canines. Brittany hears that she’s pretty, again. I can’t believe they keep insulting her like that. Sutan criticizes Analeigh for being too “hood rat.” Um, saying “yo” does not a hood-rat make, especially from the mouth of a former ice-skater.


The French are vampires. I think we all knew that.


In the end, Hannah wins. That $1000 gift card will buy a lot of ammo for hunting season. She’s thrilled that she can now “google herself.” Good luck with that Hannah. I’ll be damned if I could find the promotional video or video  on Wal-Mart or CoverGirl’s sites.

Yet another Tyra mail has arrived at the house along with yet another photo of Tyra in her sexy postal worker outfit. It asks, “Which one of you is suited to be America’s Next Top Model?” The girls figure swim suits or business suits.

Noooooooo! No more Analeigh talking! I get more and more worried with all her screen time, especially since she’s not saying particularly interesting. I’m comforted that tragically pretty Brittany is getting nearly as much. She chats with Joslyn about missing her family. Elina tries to bond by announcing that she “never loved her Mom.”  The girls are a little surprised by this blanket statement, especially when she admits that mom pays all the bills and they hang out. That bitch. Elina never really explains why her mother is so horrible, and gets mad when Brittany suggests hating your Mom (on and saying so on TV, I might add) while simultaneously mooching off her is kind of fucked up. Did Mom eat bacon in front of you or something, Elina?

antm091608_22.jpgMoving on, the photo shoot turns out to involve swim suits, not business suits, although with this show I would have ruled out lawsuits (Samantha is malpractice, Sheena is negligence, etc.). Jay meets them at a seriously awesome beach house in Malibu. He tells them that they will be wearing swim suits (Tyradential: Tyra was the first black woman on the cover of Sports Illustrated)  and they will be photographed by Russell James (Tyradential: Took the famous Tyra SI cover shot). Russell is the Aussie dude who shot last year’s music photos. He’s slicked on a fresh coat of tanner and shined up his veneers for today.

They’ll be wearing swimsuits made by former model Susan Holmes. My reaction was “who?” when BJay announced her name and called her a “bona fide super model.” A little googling reveals she was on the cover of Marie Claire in 1992. I think the super model standard is slipping.

Jay also announces the twist: they won’t have Jay to boss them around on set. The girls act mortified, which must have taken several takes. You mean we won’t have Jay to yell at us and send snitch notes back to Tyra? Say it ain’t so! Besides, while Aussie dude may be as smarmy as hell, he is a very successful photographer. I’m sure he can wrangle models just fine without Jay. BJay will hang around make-up, just to get his daily undermining in.

The Aussie dude really does know his stuff, the photos look great. Maybe proving that you’re unnecessary is not the smartest career move, Jay. Just saying. The photos look good, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t problems. The most obvious one: Isis’s need to hide the dangly bits. She packages the package well enough to fool a professional swimsuit photographer. Kudos. I’ll definitely call Isis if I ever need to hide a sausage. Aussie dude may not realize that Isis isn’t quite like the other gals, but he also comments that she doesn’t have a face for modeling.


Hannah is cautioned against having “psycho eyes.” Is that an Alaska thing? Cuz Sarah Palin has those too. Brittany struggles with that age old problem: walking. No really. Aussie dude tells her to walk normally, and Brittany proceeds to walk in very slow motion, pointing her toes. He gives up and has her sit.

Back at the house before panel, you can probably guess which two models get all the screen time. That’s right! It’s Analeigh and Brittany, with some Isis thrown in for variety.

Tyra’s once again forgone pants for the judging. I’m not saying you don’t have nice legs, Tyra, I just think that if you are going to lecture the girls against looking hoochie, then you might not want to wear this.


Although I like the frightened look Susan Holmes is giving her. Susan gets properly Tyradentialed when Tyra announces that she was a supermodel in MY day (emphasis Tyra’s). That would be back in the day when Susan wore bras made out of oranges and string, and Tyra hadn’t yet learned how to button her shirt.


First up is Sheena. Remember, the main point of this judging is letting Tyra congratulate herself on the makeovers. Tyra calls Sheena’s new look “tropical.” You know, humid and damp, with a high rate of infectious disease. Nigel praises her photo for it’s serenity. Sheena says she was smiling with her eyes. And now you are ass-kissing with your mouth, Sheena. Tyra loves the implied compliment.


Analeigh, as all the foreshadowing has foreshadowed, as foreshadowing usually does, does not fare well with the judges. Paulina says her arms look like scary tree branches. Susan advises her to look at magazines and do research. Her arms do look pretty scary. Thanks to the angle, she resembles Mr. Fantastic’s long lost sister.


Tyra declares that Clark’s dark hair makes her look much more interesting. Not actually more interesting, mind you, she’s still as vapid as ever. I think that shade is too severe for her. Paulina complains that her lips are too thin and that she should practice … something that will make them fuller. I’m not sure what, aside from collagen injections. Her body looks great in the photo, but her face is kind of mannish.


Nigel terms Hannah’s photo “European sexy.” This is fashion-speak for “flat-chested.” Looking at her film, Tyra worries that Hannah doesn’t give enough variety in her poses, implying she spent the entire photo shoot airing out her armpits.


The now über-blonde Lauren Brie looks almost colorless at judging without make-up. Miss Jay compares her to former ANTM winner and EdHill fan Caridee.

It’s not a negative comparison, although it does suggest that Lauren Brie is very generic blonde. Tyra praises her for varying her looks between soft and what she describes as “come get me boys, I’m about to tooch [sic] my booty and stick my chest out.” It’s from the Madonna/whore school of modeling. Now we just need to figure out which one is Lauren and which one is Brie. And which one is throwing a gang sign in this picture?


For once, Brittany escapes the dreaded criticism that she is pretty. Instead, Tyra complains that she looked too natural in her film. Brittany responds that she was told to be herself. Oh, Brittany, as Tyra and Paulina will explain to you, when people in fashion say they want “natural” or “the real you,” they don’t really want the real you. They want the fake version of “real” and “natural” that they have artificially constructed to fool people into buying lots of products in order to look like the fake versions of “real” and “natural.”  I’d like to add that “natural” should not include the illusion that you are peeing on the seaweed.


To Tyra, McKey’s awful hair signals she is like Linda Evangelista- a raging bitch. Ooops, I mean that she’s pretty enough to wear any hair, even the crappy hair from ANTM. They like her photo and how she used her body. I’m not fond of the random bows on the swimsuit, ahem, Susan. McKey herself looks like a very pretty woman that is about to slap the guy taking her picture. One of those “we’re fighting on vacation” photos.


Nigel immediately asks if Isis was “uncomfortable” during the shoot, an oblique way of asking if it hurts to push her testicles back into her abdomen. As usual, Isis responds like a lady and merely states she became more comfortable as they went. He criticizes her for having a “weak eye” in the photo, and Tyra complains her film was boring. Paulina cheers her up by saying the pose was nice and the suit looked good. I’m surprised no one says the obvious: this is a VERY catalog shot. I’m almost checking for price listings on the suit and the chair. Plus, thanks to the perspective, her leg is huuuuge. The last (or next to last) thing a transgendered gal wants to emphasize is her big feet.


Oddly, it’s Marjorie (no French music!) who is called catalog, I think. Tyra terms it “high end, edgy, boutique, hotel ad.” Or maybe Tyra is saying Marjorie looks like a hooker, but the kind you’d find in a high-end, edgy, boutique hotel. I’m not sure. Miss J would like to see more swimsuit. Marjorie did a good job of looking soft and playing against her severe hair.


Both Samantha’s new look and picture get high marks. Paulina continues her newfound  obsession with mouths. She feels that Samantha’s make it appear like she’s thinking. Yeah, I’m not sure what she means by that either, maybe if I had Samantha’s mouth I’d be smart enough to figure it out. Her picture is pretty awesome, although it doesn’t show much bikini. Maybe it’s an ad for a florist.


Elina has tamed the redfro down to something mildly less frightening. Nigel gushes over her photo. Paulina brings up the problem of tattoos, but Tyra brushes them aside, saying they worked in the photo. Um, this is a head shot, of course the tattoos are less of an issue. And what about Sheena’s tramp stamp? Tyra thinks, seriously, that Elina’s  redfro makes her “racially ambiguous” (yes, those words actually came out of her mouth), and that every little girl can see themselves in her photo. Every little girl that dreams of wearing a bad wig, that is. No one remarks on the fact that this swimsuit shot does not show the swim suit AT ALL. Remember two seconds ago when you criticized Marjorie for that?


Lastly, we have Joslyn. Miss J makes fun of her pose as being very close to the “girl in the hood” photo, even demonstrating it for her. Tyra likes it, isisting it has motion. Sure, the motion is that she’s about to plunge into that bush, but still, motion.


The girls are dismissed with a  little lecture about how important it is to master their bodies in a swimsuit.

I’m skipping right over judging since they don’t say anything really new, except Susan finally points out that Clark is not very photogenic.

Back with the photos, Elina wins first place! For a swimsuit photo without a swimsuit. Hey Tyra, remember five minutes ago when you lectured them on how important it was to master your body in a  swimsuit? Just for future reference, giving the top photo to the girl with a head shot doesn’t really drive that point home.

Elina is followed by Lauren Brie, Samantha, McKey, Sheena, Joslyn, Marjorie, Clark, Isis, and Hannah. You’ll be shocked to hear that Analeigh and Brittany are in the bottom two.

Tyra tells Brittany that she’s pretty and that shit does not fly in modeling. No one wants to look at a pretty face in a make-up ad. Analeigh, on the other hand, should be ahead because of her ice-skating background. Errrrr, what? I was completely unaware that there was a connection between ice-skating and modeling, other than the need to smile and smash in you rival’s knee-caps with a tire iron.

At any rate, Analeigh stays. Yay! Tyra tells her to breathe. Did I accidentally take hallucinogens during this show? Between he ice-skating and breathing, little sense is being made. Tyra advises loser Brittany to go home and buy European magazines, i.e. not the crappy American ones, and learn to pose. The Seventeen editors are going to love that advice.

Brittany goes home to get uglier, like the real models. Maybe take up ice-skating, I hear that’s an asset. She complains all the contradictory advise confused her. Just remember this, Brittany: that weave is yours to keep. I don’t care if the producer and show lawyers say different. 

What do you think- makeovers or makeunders? Who were the winners and losers? 

brilliantmistake | 09.22.08 | Filed in America's Next Top Model,Recaps

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