‘America’s Next Top Model’: A surprise double elimination and the mystery of ‘smize’


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This week’s ‘America’s Next Top Model’ kicked off with a lukewarm (read: boring) interview competition with judge Nigel Barker and Wilhelmina Models’ President Sean Patterson. Each girl faced the handsome panel while fielding questions and walking on demand.

I’m not sure those two should ever host a segment on their own again – snorefest. It wasn’t until the interviews were over when we found out why we should care. It was an elimination challenge and the girl who did the worst would be OUT. In the end, Bambi-eyed Rachel went home for her lack of charisma. Why? You can’t say you’re into musical theater, especially in our ‘Glee’-obsessed world, and not be able to burst into song on command. Bye Bambi.


Now here’s where it gets good: The rest of the show is dedicated to creating a smile with your eyes, or “smize” as Tyra calls it. Anyone who has watched more than a few episodes, let alone 12 previous cycles, knows that Tyra is the queen of smize. It’s the ubiquitous talent, according to Tyra, that brings one up from plain model to top model. To drive the point home, she dons a leotard and cape and shows up as her alter ego, “Super Smize.” (By the way, shouldn’t it be smeyes?)

How does one smize? After the jump...

The ability to “smize” is that strange skill where ... the audience just has to believe Tyra that it’s happening. From what I could tell, if you don’t look crazy or dead, then you can “smize.”

But then came the real test: The girls donned ninja outfits and faced off in one-on-one “smize” duels. Tyra was the judge, of course, because only her super-fierceness can see smize. I can’t explain what happened next, but I defer to Tyra on this one. All I know is that Sundai looked like she was having a seizure and lost while Laura mastered the art of sleeping with her eyes open and won. I’m not sure what my eyes were doing, but I’m certain they weren’t smiling. Half the girls went on to have dinner with Mr. Magnanimous, himself, Sean Patterson. The losers donned waitress outfits and did the dishes.

In the midst of all this smizing, we did learn a few interesting tidbits about a couple of the girls. Jennifer has a condition that weakens the muscles in one eye, which besides her height gives her yet another disadvantage in modeling, as well. And Courtney is starting to resent her broken foot, so whenever she can, she slips off the protective boot. The best part is that someone keeps making her put it back on – hello? Insurance risk. As a result, she’s getting bitter. That can’t help with the smize either.

FINALLY, we get to the photo shoot and the Santa Anita race track in Arcadia. This is where the story of Seabiscuit, the short horse who could, originated (just in case you forgot the theme of this cycle). The challenge included modeling with a horse, a 5-foot jockey and, as if the challenge wasn’t kooky enough for you, the girls posed topless.

In a typical season, this is the challenge when inevitably one of the girls just can’t pose nude (usually claiming religious or moral reasons), but this ain’t no typical season. No one is bowing out over a little nudity. The only surprise here was that Jennifer’s eye wasn’t that much of a handicap, but Courtney just couldn’t seem to rise above her broken foot. And in a repeat of last week, Bianca wasn’t happy with her styling. I don’t blame her. They slapped a cheap blond wig on her this time and it was not cute (not to mention a bit tranny-looking). You know it’s bad when Mr. J says that Isis, the transgendered contestant from Cycle 11, was actually more feminine than Bianca in this shoot.


In the end, Guest Judge Lauren Conrad (“The Hills”) helped to send Courtney and Bianca to the bottom two. And despite the fact that it’s Bianca’s second offense, she will go on to “smize” another day. That’s a good thing, right?

Oh, and if you’re over 5-7, the last Top Model audition for Cycle 14 is being held here in Los Angeles on Saturday. We’ll be there, will you?

-- Jethro Nededog