Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

America's Next Top Model: “Nicholas Tse”

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Forget that whole team thing. It’s every model for herself now, no matter what continent she’s from. The producers made that clear when Laura alone got the gift from last week’s photoshoot win, leaving Eboni out in the cold to admire Laura’s new clothes. American citizenship or no, Laura’s made it clear that she doesn’t care for Eboni much. This week, she makes her disdain for her teammate explicit: “If I didn’t win, I’d rather have a Brit win,” she sniffs.

Drama bubbling, bungee jumping, and an unexpected panel exit make tonight’s installment one of the most interesting episodes in a long spell, but I still had some quibbles. The editors of America’s Next Top Model sometimes try to sneak in a piece of character development and make it seem like it’s been there all season. Laura’s supposed over-the-top sexuality, for example, just came to light in the last photoshoot. But tonight, it’s as if the rest of the ladies had been rolling their eyes at the nymphomaniac in their midst the whole time.

It doesn’t help that the first challenge is to interact with sultry Hong Kong film star and singer Nicholas Tse, or as Tyra introduces him at panel, “the hotness.” That’s right: It’s another acting challenge, plus some kung fu moves. The models have three lines and a fight sequence to learn, and Laura gets a tutorial from Tse himself instead of the other martial artists, sparking some jealousy from Alisha. Once the cameras roll, the ladies all do pretty awfully at delivering lines and surprisingly decently at throwing punches. Eboni attributes this to her tae kwon do yellow belt, and Sophie approaches a fight like a character from a Popeye cartoon. Laura’s approach is to take Angelina Jolie circa Tomb Raider as an influence. “She just swings her sexy hair everywhere,” Laura observes. And so, before stepping up to clock the bad guys, she dramatically takes her hair out of her ponytail and whips it around. It looks unbelievably cheesy, but it convinces Tse. Laura wins a chance to star in one of his music videos and the barely concealed rage of the rest of the group.

Back at model palace Macau, Laura fawns over Tse, and Sophie jokes about her being boy crazy. Eboni then deadpans that Laura’s sleeping her way to the top, which earns her Laura’s enmity in a serious way. Alisha isn’t happy about Laura’s ascent, either. “You’re a slag!” she fumes to the camera.

Remember back when the ladies visited Toronto’s CN Tower? That promise Mr. Jay made about not having them bungee jump off the top of the building was apparently just a temporary stay. Macau has its own tower, which includes the world’s second-highest commercial bungee-jumping station. The photoshoot this week is on the outside rim at the top of the building. The models don’t have to leap—just smize from several hundred feet in the air bedecked in pompoms. Most cycles of ANTM have these shenanigans at the beginning of the cycle, devoting the last handful of episodes to the more serious modeling challenges and editorial guest stars. It’s refreshing to have sillier shoots like this one and last week’s silkworms shoot so late in the game. The focus can be away from the stewing house drama and the girls’ nerves, and on the sheer ridiculousness of asking a woman to pose like a swan while terrified out of her mind.

The ladies all stumble through it, though Sophie sobs the whole time. Laura irritates her competitors further by being really excited about the shoot. Annaliese has been edging up toward best photo in the past few episodes. She doesn’t quite nab it, but Cutrone can’t find anything critical to say about her picture, which counts as a victory. Tse loves Sophie’s “gesture-posture,” but Cutrone thinks she looks like a weather vane. Laura dances to best picture easily, followed by Annaliese and Sophie. Eboni and Alisha are left to face Tyra’s photo reveal of wonder, when the real surprise of the episode comes in. Eboni gets cut, but a tearful Alisha volunteers to go in her place. Alisha has been a real contender for the title for most of the arc. She hasn’t had Kyle’s insecurities or Eboni’s sulky moments. Her emotional breakdown comes out of the blue. But Tyra has already made her call. “You can go,” she says, “but Eboni is leaving with you.”


Alisha’s departure changes the landscape of the competition seriously. What was a showdown between Sophie and Alisha with Laura edging in became a Laura-Sophie battle. Though I still have hopes for Annaliese. Who else on this show could describe something as “fan-dabby-dozy” and get away with it?

Stray observations:

  • Does Kelly Cutrone know what a weather vane is? “The temperature tonight: Electricity!” Huh?
  • Annaliese makes a good point: “I’m not afraid of actual heights; I’m afraid of falling from a height.”
  • Would you play a version of Mortal Kombat with ANTM personalities? I sure as hell would. Get on that, Tyra.