Sunday, March 25, 2012

America's Next Top Model: British Invasion (Cycle 18) - 18x04

Before I get to this episode, I need to point out something from the previous one: Ashley. So far, she's been portrayed on the show as this meek and retiring bairn whose shyness outside of "The Ashley and Sophie Clown On All The Yank Girls Show" (we're long overdue on the next installment, by the way) seems fated to weigh down her performance in the contest, oh she is a delicate shrinking violet, when in fact her home media had already labelled her a troublemaker, and the Wikipedia entry for her original cycle suggests that she fell up the competition in a drunken and belligerent stupor. We indeed see Ashley's gulliness firsthand in the confrontation with Seymone (even if the editors apparently want to deemphasize just how raw she can get), where her mouth gets blurred out more than anyone else's, and not only does she get right up into Seymone's business, she actually chest-bumps her (and not in a celebratory way):

That's some Scottish gangsta.

This latest episode is lighter in OGs, unless you count the return of Ms. J, who has at last risen to the heights of celebrity heretofore attained only by the likes of Kris Jenner and Kristin Cavallari, to which honor he gets an episode named after him. Also, the guys driving the lowriders, I guess? And Nigel, too?

Rather than getting down like the G's they all surely are, much of the episode's action is an exercise in demonstrating (to me) that in virtually any endeavor, the British girls will always come off as polished and classy as long as the Americans are around for contrast. For instance, Laura's penchant for fist-pumping bugs a lot of us, yet, when Catherine does a double fist-pump, by jove, she's much more cultured or something about it (it's probably the Union Jack).

And so for the challenge of the episode -- hocking ANTM "products" in one take -- I expected the Brits to outclass the Americans by an order of magnitude, if only by virtue of the usual accent reasons (Ashley, as an example, is so adorable even when she describes her deviant, sexual, bum-smelling habits); but as a matter of fact, I think that by any measure, as a group the Brits are collectively more personable and self-assured than their American counterparts. Of course Annaliese's magnetism and effervescence sets her far apart from the rest of the competition, though Sophie's enthusiastic cuteness has an amateurish charm as well. Unsurprisingly, they were both rated among the highest, but their company in the top three -- Kyle -- clearly did not belong.

So clearly, this focus group is a bunch that can't think straight when faced with a pretty white girl droning on painfully about fake breath mints. What's more, we have at least one guy who strains to realize that, in describing what he didn't like about Alisha's spot, he's about to enter racially sensitive territory, and struggling pathetically (in an almost entertaining way) against his deficit of sense and decorum, and settles on saying that he didn't like her "African" accent. This despite Alisha, like all of her British cohorts, having better presence and elocution than the American girls, which, by extension, means she's vastly better-spoken than the idiot who complains about her African accent. (The focus group is in a strange class/race mood generally, as evidenced by another imbecile calling Laura "ghetto.")

But, as I get off my high horse, I realize that I may be suffering from my own lack of moral imagination; maybe the focus group are so bowled over by Kyle's ad because they're, like, all music critics and thought they're seeing a massively stoned Feist in some terrible post-post-modern performance art.

And while I'm in such a charitable mood, maybe I've been unfair to Laura as well, who has been asserting herself as a mainstay at the top of the callout order each week. More importantly, however, she seems to have lost the hideous blue and red tracks from her hair:

Also, I definitely do not laugh at the awfulness of Lisa's ad every time it flashes onscreen:

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