“America’s Next Top Model”: Makeovers -- “Keep it cute or put it on mute”

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Remember how last week I expressed relief that the cheesy, cheap special effects seem to be gone from ‘Top Model?’ Alas, I spoke too soon. After being introduced by a super-flashy new intro, the models climbed into a disgustingly Paris Hilton-ed out pink stretch limo to find that they were to be made over. Makeovers are usually one of the most fun parts of the show, but the excitement was lessened by J. Alexander and Jay Manuel pretending to use their cellphones as TV screens from which Tyra gave them ‘For Fierce Eyes Only’ dossiers, basically that the girls wouldn’t see how they’d look until they were done (isn’t that how it always is, though?)

The makeovers were a little underwhelming this year. Jessica Santiago’s hair was supposed to be ‘edged out,’ but it just looked ratty. Allison Harvard got ‘mermaid hair,’ but it looks like a weave that’s uncomfortable to sleep on. Kortnie Coles’ red hair doesn’t look good with her tan, Nijah Harris’ and Aminat Ayinde’s extensions looked predictable, and even the judges admitted that Teyona Anderson’s was a failure. Jay did a weird fake-out with Natalie Pack, going through a major charade to pretend to cut her hair only to tell her that she was perfect the way she was, which was a drag. Plus, she made a fairly big stink about her hypothetical haircut, which was unappealing. Finally, Fo Porter had a meltdown about her hair being cut, so bad that it leaked into her photo shoot. She actually got a great haircut, one which makes her look much more than a model. She seemed like a likable girl prior to this, but it was hard not to feel annoyed with her as the episode went on. Her hair made her feel like she was back on food stamps, but worse? How old are you, 8?

Bummed as I was about the makeovers/'Mission Impossible’ theme, I was happy to see Sutan, the show’s makeup artist actually host a segment of the show. He’s so interesting looking and just the tiniest bit odd. Unfortunately the challenge he gave them was like a cut-rate ‘Apprentice’ task: Get some woman off the street and present her a live-action CoverGirl ad at a Wal-Mart display. It was not very, shall we say, high-end.

Aminat and Sandra Nyanchoka continued their feud on tonight’s episode, which didn’t really yield anything new except Aminat’s catch phrase, ‘Keep it cute, or put it on mute,’ a phrase sure to be picked up by parents across the world.

The girls’ challenge involved them holding flashbulbs so they could find the best lighting for themselves, while they were shot by Nigel Barker. Allison summed up the strategy best: I was trying to keep [the light] on my outfit and on, like, my face.’ Teyona and Celia Ammerman both had good shoots; Celia looking a bit like Jennifer Jason Leigh.


Before Tyra introduced the judges panel, she presented the second in an installment of fairy tales about a supermodel who is the most dedicated person in the world to making other girls feel good about themselves. But all this feel-goodery was negated by the presence of guest judge Nole Marin, who I fondly remember from seasons past thanks to his tiny dog who had teeny pink ribbons tied on his little baby paws. He proclaimed that Sandra, looking uptight, should ‘sit on that glow stick,’ and didn’t mince words with Aminat’s photo: ‘She is so ugly in this picture I can’t even look at it.’ But the judges were saucy all around: Tyra even accusingly said to one contestant, ‘It’s like you never heard the phrase ‘Smile with your eyes.’ ' (A phrase she made up, by the way.)

In the end, Fo and Jessica were in the bottom two, the latter accused of being too lazy and resting on her good looks. I thought her conceitedness was kind of fake and funny, but she did seem to downgrade post-makeover, unlike Fo, and so it stands. Besides, Jessica felt fine with the decision anyway because she knew she was prettier than some of the other girls, which is what every girl tells herself in a situation like that.

--Claire Zulkey

Photo: The CW