“America’s Next Top Model” Recap (18.8): Oh, Hell, Kitty


You guys. YOU GUYS! This week was a corker before the episode even started! As you may know, America’s Next Top Model’s ratings have been, uh, generously stepping back so as not to intimidate the other shows on the CW lately.

You might think Tyra would try to solve that by, say, stopping the ridiculous, constant branding efforts and comedy skits with tooching and “Super Smize” and instead getting the show back to its magically stupid core of making beautiful, not always very bright young women endure deranged photo shoots and then watching them fight with each other when the pressure starts to get to them. Because let’s be honest: That was one genius modelscratching idea for a show.

But no. Instead Tyra decided to fire Mr. Jay, Miss J., and Nigel Barker. And, by all accounts, she did so rather abruptly – all three men, who have been around for 18 cycles, were just told that their contracts weren’t being renewed for Cycle 19. Tyra, in a warm and caring message to her old friends, explained that it was a “production decision.”

Though she did leave a sensitive and supportive message for them on her Facebook page.

And, as you can see by her very next post, she was super broken up about it.

So that’s going to add a little frisson for the rest of the season. We’ll be watching these guys grin their way through silly, lucrative jobs they think are secure for the next thousand years, but we here in their future know that they are Fired Men Walking.

And, wow. I’ll admit that I’ve never been a particular fan of Jay Manuel’s advice because he’s never learned or tried to actually help the models. If they’re already doing well, he tells them they’re gorgeous, and if they’re not, he yells at them that they’re choking and ruining everything and they’re going to get sent home. And then he gets involved in being theatrically disgusted for the camera instead of, say, trying to get the poor, flailing model out of her head and calm and focused on something else.

But he’s been a distinctive presence on the show and he has a pal-around chemistry with Miss J. And, really, after 18 “cycles” and nine years, that’s some pretty shabby treatment.

And Miss J. and Nigel have been around just as long and actually seemed to know what the hey they were talking about. They may be the only two people on the show who could reliably, if the situation were just right, give out some actual useful advice. I like Nigel’s pictures, and he’s pretty open about what drives a photographer up the walls. And say what you will about his silly lines and sillier outfits: Miss J. is known industrywide as someone who will fix a model’s walk, and fix it good.

Maybe they didn’t say “smize” enough.

But anyway, Tyra is done with them. The only excuse for this is if she brings back Janice Dickinson for a season of threats and madness and they both participate in every last one of the photo shoots.

Fingers crossed and eyes smized.

Anyway, it is a shameful and sad situation. But we will model through it.

Last week!

Kyle was sent home to make the exact same face she always does in a different setting. I’m sure she’ll find her very low-key bliss there, doing something.


Sophie’s happy with her top photo, noting that she listened to Tyra, smized, and tooched all at once. The Brits celebrate over the Box of Treats That Must Not Be Shown. Seriously: It’s a huge gold or silver box each week with a big bow on it, and at some point in the production process it was clearly meant to be a big deal. It’s full of prizes on a competition show, for crying out loud. But the camera always zips past like someone’s afraid it’s the Ark of the Covenant or something. So many ideas that were stifled before they could bloom this season, as though there was a lot of fighting behind the scenes or someone just went totally bats midway through.

My God — is Janice already back on staff?

Laura is so happy that Kyle is off the show that she jumps up and down and does a victory dance and some football chanting. I know the producers want us to believe this is all from BearEarGate, but I suspect there is some Laura-Kyle footage from the cutting room floor that we would very much like to see. Anyway, Laura thinks Kyle was the last of the dead weight, and now it’s A game or nothing from here on out.

We see a shot of Sophie making a snack that seems to be hot sauce drizzled on a stalk of celery. Is that a thing? I’m calling it “fire ants on a log.” Alisha worries over being called too commercial – especially because in London she’s always called editorial – and is freaked about being in the bottom two. She’s woken up, on the warpath and calls herself a beast. The other girls calmly eat while Alisha finishes her mild flip-out.


Still Modelland!

Alisha reaches up to put her hands on Sophie’s picture in order to isolate her eye makeup and notes that it enhances her smizing. [Personal to Tyra Banks: Have you noticed that this show’s ratings took a dive when you insisted on everyone treating “smize” like a real word? I’m just saying.]

Alisha’s feeling some pressure to provide for her family and feels grateful for all they’ve done for her. She mentions that her mom and dad each have three jobs. And need to have them in a country with nationalized health care too. Dang. I’m fond of Alisha. She seems to have her head on straight.

Tyra Mail!

“Hope by now you’ve hit your stride. The fashion elite awaits.” So just one member of the fashion elite? Good. That’s way less pressure. [Psst! Tyra! While you’re hiring and firing, you need America’s Current Perfectly Reasonable Copyeditor! Call me!]

Brand Futurist Martin Lindstrom is back! He hopes the models have been working on the lessons he gave them. It is at that point in my notes that you can see the word “WHAT?” Anyway, the ladies are going to a casting and need to make a good first impression.

He says Sophie is bubbly, but shouldn’t get too full of herself, Eboni should stick to her young vibe but not be arrogant. Boy does Eboni hate them harping on her to play little girl all the time. Can you blame her?

Seymone gets called “fiercely real” again (Ugh.), and Alisha has fierce determination, but gets crushed by harsh judging panels too easily. Which is an accurate description of Alisha as a human being, but has nothing to do with making a first impression with a casting. Martin, could you clarify?

Nope! I guess that’s all we have time for. Hope you didn’t need any brand guidance from the future, Laura and Annaliese!

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