“America’s Next Top Model” Recap (18.4): The Models Get Branded

Team Yank!
Seymone also gets just enough time to say that she uses the thing. AzMarie, who is maybe just the teeniest bit over this challenge, says, “I’m selling you facial tissues. Glows in the dark. At night.” She works into a great smile, but it’s perhaps not her finest moment on the show.

Laura takes her box of antibacterial trash bags and makes a gesture like she’s maybe going to use one for a sack race and says “Just pull one of these out, slip it under, and no one has to know.” Laura is truly awesome, but may not have accurately sussed out this show’s sense of humor. Alisha and Sophie exchange priceless “What is she doing?” looks, and Alisha interviews that Laura is a bit “Gone with the Wind” while some helpful sound editor drops in a cuckoo noise. (Seriously, read Laura’s interview. She’s way more interesting and down to earth than the editors are letting you see.)

Kyle interviews that she is “Next Doorsia” and can relate to people: “I automatically am, like, ‘I’m gonna do good at this.’” She then monotones her way through a pitch for teeth-whitening breath mints (We will never know what the slogan was! Never!) and, wow. Kyle is pretty and I’m sure she’s a wonderful human being, but great flipping bicuspids, is she boring. Annaliese awesomely describes her as “toast with no butter.”

She hits a wonderful moment where she accidentally says the mints will make your breath “crispy fresh,” but quickly shakes off that pesky fun and goes back to pretty-but-not-very-interesting. Eboni is not buying it, nor are the other models.

Martin, however, says that even though Kyle’s performance technically sucked, she’s very warm and relatable. And that’s how we know we’re in for a frustrating evening.

We are given no clues as to what Eboni is holding, though it looks like the label says “Doggie Scooper,” and it is heavily Bedazzled along the bottom. (Please, please, someone get me notes from those production meetings.)

Eboni’s pitch is that she’s pretty and therefore she knows about looking good. I really want to know how that tied in with the doggie scooping. Sophie is not impressed with Eboni’s persuasive tack, and gives her a fantastic “You are tripping” face. Sophie also imitates Eboni during an interview and we learn that she does a dead-on American accent. More Sophie!

Here’s the thing: Sophie is correct in the sense that Eboni thought of nothing good to say, but how often are models brought into real commercial sets and asked to just go ahead and improvise some dialogue while the cameras are rolling? What’s that? Never, you say? OK, fine. Let’s dispense with the pretense that the challenges are teaching anything and have the models build baking soda and vinegar volcanoes and fight fires. I think we’ll all be happier.

Candace gets coffee that freshens your breath (What happens if you mix it with the mints?) and, oh, dear Candace is terrible. In her defense, she said she would be because presentations aren’t her thing, and also MAKING UP THEIR OWN LINES IS NOT WHAT MODELS DO. Candace ends with “Buy this coffee. Buy this coffee. Thank you.”

Catherine thinks the British girls did well and the American girls struggled. Martin announces the horrific news that the models’ improvised TV commercials will be judged by “ordinary consumers.” Take a moment to rage at the universe if you didn’t get picked for that focus group.

The models hate this idea, and they are correct.

Still at the focus group place!

Kyle has read the room and interviews that she maybe messed up her commercial. Ten volunteer focus group people come in, hoping that being on the teevee is going to be worth taking a later Homes of the Stars tour like that nice producer said it would be when she pulled them off Hollywood boulevard as they came out of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.

Miss J. Alexander turns on a closed-circuit TV and the models watch and sweat it out.

(Dear focus group volunteers: That is almost what happens in a real focus group. What actually happens is that there are no hidden nervous models, and while you are delivering your trenchant insights, the people who made the product you are so earnestly discussing are sitting behind that one-way mirror eating snacks and soothing their egos by making cruel and accurate fun of you. This may not be a pleasant fact, but it is a true one.)

Speaking of unpleasant facts, we soon discover that by “ordinary consumers,” Martin meant “Xenophobic rural and suburban Middle Americans who are completely unaware that they do, in fact, have a gay cousin, and do not care for movies without explosions or Adam Sandler in them.” I’m guessing this is Martin’s revenge for people making fun of his accent.

Four people, when polled, say they can’t stand AzMarie, because tattoos eek and also she does NOT look comfortingly like Kathie Lee Gifford. The guy who hated the tattoos, after a cut, says “I don’t think anything would fit with her.” I have some unkind guesses as to why the focus group response was so heavily edited, and wrap a firm dislike of them around me like an angry Slanket.

A bro calls Laura “ghetto,” which is wrong in so many different ways and for so many different reasons that we’d have to redo this recap with 3D technology to properly cover them. Laura seems to think it’s the funny kind of shocking, especially since the guy is, you know, clearly an idiot.

The focus group is pissier and pissier, and someone says he doesn’t like Alisha’s “African accent.” Did they pick these goobers up from BigotFest 2012 or what?

The group judges Candace harshly, but we totally see Martin leading them into doing so. So we have no idea if they think she sucked because she did or because the authority figure in the room gave them broad cues suggesting that that was the right answer. Way to run a productive and valuable focus group, Martin!

None of them like Ashley and they are thus dead to me. May they be trampled under the mighty paws of Louise’s mountain lion.

One lady says she wouldn’t buy Seymone’s product, but she liked Seymone, making her the most positive person in the room so far. A few people correctly say that Sophie is cute, and suggest that she would be a good representative for Cover Girl. They win back a few points, but not enough to recover from their massive deficit. Sophie takes a victory lap.

The focus group people love Annaliese, which makes sense, and Kyle, which, um, doesn’t quite. They like Kyle a lot. On the other hand, none of them would buy Eboni’s doggie scooper for pretty people.

J. Alexander turns off the TV and asks the models what they learned. Alisha, who’s way sharper about interpersonal relations than may be good for her on this show, says, “If you don’t have the girl next door look, then you can’t sell products.”

Boom. That is pretty much what this group, or at least this edit of this group, had to teach. Top Model is on some surprisingly dangerous ground. Do they mean to be?

Several of the girls jump in to point out that Kyle, for example, sucked, but was appealing to that particular cross-section of people and so did well with the challenge. In a long shot, it becomes clear that Miss J. is uncomfortable and does not have control of the room at all, not even a tiny bit.

Kyle is not so much up for being the example of suckitude skating by on looks and wholesomeness in this fascinating bit of Top Model sociology, and so she stands up and says she wants to go home.

To repeat: Kyle, who just did really well in the challenge and got told she can do pretty much whatever the hell she wants at a very low competence level and still succeed for as long as her girl-next-door looks hold out, wants to leave because it’s all so unfair.

Kyle hilariously explains what she’s getting horribly upset about in a monotone.

Candace says Kyle can’t handle fashion, and she may have a point. Sophie seriously interviews that Kyle should develop a thicker skin if this is the industry she wants to be in. Having Alisha and Sophie do regular Top Model psychological color commentary would not be the worst thing in the world. Maybe for the DVD extras?

Kyle immediately starts talking about her studies and her education, which is Level Orange in the Modelland Security Color Code Leaving the House Alert System. Miss J. tries to comfort her while the other models point out that this world will break her.

J. tells Kyle not to leave and Kyle says she’s going to pound Eboni.

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