America’s Next Top Model 16.02 “Alek Wek” Review

As much as reality show contestants are derided for being petulant, immature fame junkies constantly searching for their next hit, there are often times when one will do something pretty darn thoughtful and surprise you. On Wednesday’s episode of Top Model, that person was Ondrei, a stunning 18 year old who had just lost her two brothers in the last couple of months. While most of us would still be on the floor, unable to move or face the world around us after dealing with such tragedy, the sensitive teen seemed to be soldiering on.

That is, until the reward challenge this week. This time, the seasonal acting challenge was moved up from its typical place around halfway through the season, as the ladies were meant to face their inner critics. We got the expected amount of tears and tough backstories (adoption, rejection, death, etc.), but while the other ladies seemed to take solace in actually verbalizing some things, the challenge more or less broke Ondrei’s spirit. Her segment was the toughest to watch because the hurt that she still had was quite palpable and you really just wanted to give her a hug for the duration of the episode. I was relieved when she decided that competing for a modeling contract wasn’t the right place to be at this point, especially because you hear so often of contestants on Top Model who make it pretty darn far and never model again. Seeing that she has strong support from her boyfriend was quite touching and she definitely left in a classy way.

Class wasn’t the name of the game for two ladies in particular this week. Alexandria and her roots decided that they were going to completely write Dalya off for some stupid reason involving raw chicken, while Monique’s taunting during the photo shoot was a little unexpected but immediately put her on my feces roster. Alexandria seems to have patterned herself after season 5 contestant Lisa d’Amato, i.e. the type of delusions of grandeur that can only be dulled through the use of select medications. The difference between the two is that Lisa actually produced good photos and could turn it on when it came to challenges; this week, Alexandria’s lifeless bee beauty shot left a lot to be desired, though it had an ample supply of armpits.

Said bee photo shoot (complete with nose cotton and pheromone coated jewelry) was the highlight of the week, for me. It immediately gave me vibes of season 1’s snake photo shoot and while nobody called out to Jesus, seeing such a realistic, uncomplicated photo shoot was refreshing. I don’t have a problem with the occasional ridiculous shoot, but Top Model can sometimes lean too far on the absurd; it works in terms of comedy value, but these girls need some semblance of proper training and more shoots like this would do the trick nicely. My opinions mostly jived with the judge’s; this shoot was quite raw, but it was fresh-faced Hannah, she of constant doubt and insecurity, who pulled it out this week with a tear-stained bit of elegance that stood out from the crowd. Other highlights included Brittani’s creature-ish take on beauty shots (I’ll go on record and say that Brittani will challenge for the top spot; I expect her to be at least top 3), Dominique’s Grecian goddess look, and Mikaela’s tribal warrior chic.

Due to the fact that Ondrei’s slightly meek photo wasn’t the worst, one of these ladies had to go and it was old looking Nicole who got the boot over “young colt” Dalya. I personally would have gotten rid of Kasia, as her photo was a mix of Sleepy (the half-opened eyes) and Dopey (the open mouth, which a lot of girls seem to do), or Sara, whose awkwardness is now 0-for-2 in terms of translating into a good photo, but then again, I may just be cranky and need to reward myself with a cheatie. Peanut butter, anyone?

Grade: B+
Call Out Order: Hannah, Brittani, Monique, Mikaela, Kasia, Dominique, Sara, Alexandria, Jaclyn, Molly
Bottom Two: Dalya and Nicole
Eliminated: Nicole
Quit: Ondrei
Favorite Things: the concept of the “cheatie” (a food that doesn’t seem like it’d be good for you, but it actually is), “I’m a watcher. I don’t like to fight.”, “I need you to think newborn baby.”, Alek Wek is flawless (and a pretty decent judge), “Oh, so it was bee-tiful?”, “I’m gonna undress myself fiercely.”, Ondrei’s maturity in leaving the show, “These aren’t, like, killer bees, are they?”, Tyra’s Italian (French?) accent
Least Favorite Things: Alexandria and Monique, Ondrei letting the reward challenge get to her, stupid drama in the house, obvious editing. Andre’s Robin Hood-ish hat, Hannah’s old lady bandana, Dominique referring to herself in 3rd person
Quote of the Night: “Andre, I don’t have a salon. You gon’ buy me a salon? Where you get one, the swap meet?”
Next Week: Makeovers!!!!!!

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