America's Next Top Model 18.07 "Estelle" Review
Rarely does an elimination of Top Model surprise me. Irritate, befuddle, deflate - sure, all the time. I've been around these parts for going on 18 cycles, so I've seen my fair share of ridiculous ousters. But because I've been with the show from day one, it's made me a little numb to the type of antics they can pull. If you see it, believe it, and it's super-duper outlandish, Top Model has it on top of their to do list, so at this point in the show's life, surprises don't happen all that often.
I'll be damned, then, that I've been surprised at the past two eliminations, but pleasantly so. First, AzMarie got knocked off her high horse for failing to train her tooch and now Kyle, she of the ridiculous overpraise and little desire to be there, gets the boot? Be still my reality loving heart. Kyle's elimination over limited facial expressions and her recent creative backslide made me audibly gasp (loudly), as Top Model is known for keeping their "favorites" around a little longer and putting them in the bottom two as a warning shot. And pitting Kyle against poor Alisha, who can't take a great photo to save her life? You had to think that there was a Mama Tyra lecture coming about stepping it up, giving it your all, and ooh ooh ooh, but those sly, sly judges actually kept the (in my opinion) right girl. Again. Top Model record or Top Model record? I didn't hate-hate Kyle, by any means; I'm sure she's a lovely person in real life, but the constant fawning over her and her obvious shutting down a few weeks ago made me root for her to leave, if only to give a spot to someone more passionate, hungry, and talented. Plus, no Kyle means not much of an emphasis on house drama, with Laura having no person to take out all her crazy on.
Alisha may not be Naomi Campbell right now, but she seems to be more coachable, possesses a bigger personality, and looks better at panel, so it's a case of raw potential triumphing over bland conventionality. On Top Model. For real.
Kyle and, well, the rest of the girls didn't benefit from their photo shoot, though. Meant to be "living art installations", it just looked ripped from the pages of Trashy Socialite Weekly, all tight, bright-colored dresses and table crawling. Plus lots and lots of tooching, which the girls executed to varying degrees of success. I got the concept and what they were going for, but there was no differentiation in the look of the art v. the look of the girls behind them, so it was less high fashion surrealism and more "get this drunk bitch off the table and out of my pie". Having the girls focus more on giving shape this week may have made for a fun change of pace and made sense given their tooch lessons, but there was only one great photo in the bunch (Sophie's predatory Ziggy Stardust realness) with a bunch of good/okay mixed in the bunch. Of the eight photos, the judges and I had the biggest disconnect over Seymone; they may have loved the backbend and all, but I found it to be limited and stale. Not much of a tooch to speak of and she was neither the center of attention in her photo nor modeling H2T, thanks to her lower half being behind the table. Had she been more front-and-center in the photo and done something interesting with her legs, I could see this being a great, great photo, but it just didn't live up to the hype.
But for all this, I have to say that Top Model actually made me feel emotion tonight with their challenge. I know, you're thinking that doing something anti-bullying is very trendy and that Tyra didn't even make an appearance, but I was genuinely touched by them bringing the younger girls in to tell their stories and participate. It may have been manipulative to match the model with a kid with similar issues, but c'mon. Alisha's girl expressing insecurity about the color of her skin, only to be reassured and reminded of how beautiful she is? If you didn't at least get a fierce lump in your throat at that, you may be dead inside and have a heart as black as night. Top Model very rarely does something as unifying and positive as the anti-bullying PSA tonight was, so it was genuinely refreshing to see the team concept of cycle 18 muted for at least a little bit. The inclusion of something like this is a reminder of the power and responsibility that the winner of Top Model has upon taking the crown. They can do almost anything they want with the notoriety and connections they acquire from being on the show and some of that can/could/should go toward uplifting things like promoting a cause near and dear to you. Being in the public eye is more than mountains of cash and lines of coke; it's being able to look back at the person who was in your shoes and give them a leg up that you may not have gotten.
Top Model made me laugh, feel emotions, and went out on an unexpectedly deserved elimination that makes me a tiny bit hopeful going forward. Last week, they embraced their train wreck-y side and made a good episode of TV and now, they played it more straight and...made a good episode of TV. Hmm. And getting rid of two big favorites opens the door for pretty much any girl in the competition able to step their game up to make a run for the top. I've learned long ago not to count anybody out in Top Model Land and judging from the past two weeks, none of the final seven can afford to rest on pretty for a second. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thoughts, Quotes, & Observations:
-"They just drew a little poo at the bottom."
-"I was kinda like a skinny horse with Bugs Bunny teeth."
-"She sings "American Boy" and I really like that song."
-"She's crawling on the table. What is happening?"
-"Don't be afraid. Be British."
-"I don't have a butt to pop."
-"I love her doing this backbend and being fiercely real."
-Final Call Out Order: Sophie, Seymone, Eboni, Annaliese, Laura, Catherine, Alisha, Kyle (eliminated)
-Tyra's "I can't believe that came out of my mouth" thing was either a striking moment of self-awareness or a mini-stroke. I'd believe either.
-Laura's crimped hair at panel didn't get called out. Flag on the play, y'all. That was not the look.
-Also, if you didn't let out an "aww" on hearing "Your inner beauty can't be bullied" from one of the kids, you're a monster.
-The product placement doesn't bother me that much, but the extended Virgin Mobile promos were especially egregious this time. The random mention of Estelle's song "Thank You" would annoy me, but I really like that song. Sue me.
-Next week on Top Model: The ladies compete to open a fashion show and have to model heavy Hello Kitty couture (!) at their photo shoot. I'm predicting mass casualties. Prepare yourself.