TV Recap

Finishing in Fierce Place

On the season finale of ''America's Next Top Model,'' Jaslene out-catwalks Natasha, who has a wardrobe malfunction on the runway; plus, Renee ends bitter

America's Next Top Model | CHA-CHA-CHING Jaslene won the big prizes
Image credit: De Yonker
CHA-CHA-CHING Jaslene won the big prizes

The ''Top Model'' finale: Battle of the accents

Dear Top Model fans,

We've been through a lot together, during what Tyra called a grueling cycle 8: boot camp, breakdowns, politics, 50 Cent's short fuse, schoolyard antics, backstabbing, gender-bending, a trip to Sydney, not to mention the enigma of Natasha's life. All season, the other girls have been implying that there was something shady about her family. It may have been kind of the producers to end the speculation by showing that photo of her with her husband and baby, but I, for one, was enjoying the mystery.

The ep began with CoverGirl shoots, one for an ad-libbed TV spot and one for a print ad, which cycle 7 winner Caridee ''coached'' the three remaining girls through. I say ''coached'' in quotes because she did tell Renee, ''This is easy compared to what it is after you win.'' Those aren't exactly words of wisdom; they're more like words from an underminer. You know who I'm talking about — those friends who deflate your experiences:

Example 1

You: ''Oh, I just got a 2 percent raise.''

Them: ''I just won the lottery.''

Example 2

You: ''I twisted my ankle.''

Them: ''Well, I once broke mine in four places.''

Caridee, you're looking good, but here's one piece of advice: Don't dispense it.

Natasha did surprisingly well in the commercial, and I'm not saying that just because English is her second language but because — you have to admit — she has not been the sharpest tool in the shed all season. Jaslene, meanwhile, added some cha-cha to her dialogue, which she otherwise delivered like Rosie the Robot. As for Renee, she hit Sydney Harbor with genuine friendliness, that trademark chip on her shoulder a thing of the past — or so it seemed.

I thought Renee performed best on the CoverGirl shoots, so I was slack-jawed when Tyra didn't pull out her photo for an invite to the final challenge. She truly had more of the CoverGirl signature look: soft and gentle. But the judges said she looked old! Old. She may have a few lines under her eyes, but jeez. That's ridiculous. Tyra copped out and blamed it on the fashion industry. But this was Tyra's chance as a role model to defy what the ''industry'' thinks, especially in a day and age when more and more people are visiting the plastic surgeon to take a little piece here and add it there. Embrace the wrinkles, people!

While Renee executed the challenge perfectly, she still let her double-sided personality peek through. The day before the elimination, she said in the confessional, ''I would hope that they don't let Natasha do the final runway, because she walks like a pigeon-toed duck with a piece of poop hanging out of her ass.'' So you'd think Renee would have been rooting for Jaslene. Not exactly. After she was told she needed to leave, Renee gave Natasha a hug and said, ''Win this for the mamas, okay?''

She also said, ''I would rather have wisdom in my eyes and knowledge in my head than just be blank and stupid and not have anything there.'' You think she was referring to anybody in particular?

On to the Seventeen shoot, where Jaslene noted, ''If Natasha wins this competition, I'm going to pull off all her hair.'' I kept my fingers crossed for that, a catfight at the final panel, but it never materialized. Boo.

What did you guys think about Tyra asking Natasha whether the other girls had a problem with her because the show is called America's Next Top Model — I guess as opposed to America's Newest Immigrant Top Model? I don't think that really occurred to the other girls; it's more likely they envied her exotic accent. (Someone asked me just yesterday, as a matter of fact, whether a man with an accent has an edge over a man without one when picking up women. The honest answer is yes.)

On we go to the evolutionary runway, which I loved. Natasha looked awesome on the Neanderthalish first walk-through — edgy, fierce, and animalistic (as did Caridee). Jaslene was nervous at first, and her moves looked a little constipated — though Nigel thought it was pure Bond, James Bond. Then Natasha lost her skirt. I'm not sure how I feel about that. She just kicked it off and kept on going. As Nigel said, the plus was that it looked planned. The flip side? Well, I'm not sure that you want to make a piece of clothing seem that impractical. What's the point of wearing it at all then? As the fashion show continued, Jaslene kicked butt, especially in that last black number. (On a tangential note, I loved that last white dress with black trim that Natasha was wearing; I wouldn't be surprised if we saw that on the red carpet somewhere.)

This was a nail-biter of a finale, let me just say. Even the judges were split. The victor in the Battle of the Accents? Cha-cha, a.k.a. Jaslene, whose quivering ''Oh, my God, Tyra'' reaction almost choked me up to the point of making me llorar. You go, girl!

Alas, the end of an era. Sniff.

XO, Vanessa

PS: So what do you think? Did they pick the right girl? Will Jaslene actually have a career? Were you disappointed to see that Natasha's husband actually exists? And which side of Renee's personality is the real her?

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Originally posted May 16, 2007
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