TV REVIEW: ‘America’s Next Top Model’ – ‘Beauty is Los Angeles/Beauty is a Trademark’

After a stagnant, if enjoyable second episode, season 24 finally kicks into high gear come makeover time

| January 26, 2018

Progress thus far. Photo courtesy of VH1.

I swore I wouldn’t miss a week, but of course I already did in the second week. So I will combine the events of last week and this week into this article to catch myself up.

After the final 15 were solidified, the girls have begun to settle into the house and get to know one another. We’re shown how Maggie, the “white homegirl” acts within the house. Sandra and Coura point out how they feel weird about how Maggie changes on the drop of the hat depending on who she’s around. Her way of acting wouldn’t bother me if Maggie were from the South, as a lot of girls I know, regardless of race, speak like that. Being from Maine, Maggie does sometimes come across as fake in her social speaking style. Meanwhile, upstairs, the girls learn about Brendi K’s experience with her poor home life and the sacrifices she had to make to distance herself from them and become the person she is today. It’s touching and really makes me like Brendi K as an enigmatic, but really likable figure in the house.

Next, the girls head to Venice Beach, where they meet Stacey McKenzie, their runway coach for the season. Here, the girls get to put forth their best foot (literally) and show off their raw runway walks for Stacey. Of the girls, Khrystyana, Coura and Jeana shined, while Shanice, Liz and Ivana faded quickly. But the challenge isn’t over yet, the girls are surprised with the fact that they will be walking in a fashion show right this very moment in a complicated runway fashioned from a skate park.

Backstage, Ivana deals with some trouble with her confidence that Stacey quickly reverses, injecting the amount of confidence needed for the challenge. During the challenge, almost like a mirror, Khrystyana, Coura and Jeana give the best performances, while Ivana struggled missing her mark. Though, unfortunately, Brendi K also struggled with making her marks, sullying a good walk up to that point. Unsurprisingly, Khrystyana wins the challenge and wins the chance to be in a Baja East runway show during New York Fashion Week.

Back at home, tensions flare when Brendi K calls out the girls for some less-than-sanitary behavior in the kitchen, arguing how lucky they are to be in this mansion and to treat it kindly…in her own, Brendi K sort of way. Of course, Christina has some shit to say about this behind Brendi K’s back. Chrstina’s holier-than-thou attitude is really starting to irk me and I’m starting my countdown for her elimination.

At their photoshoot for the week, the girls are told that they’ll be posing pregnant, with prosthetic pregnant bellies for maternity shoots. Erin struggles with being fake pregnant while being away from her kids, but channels her emotion into her shoot and pulls through. Rhiyan, also struggling with being “pregnant” while also not being able to conceive in her own life, but also channels it into her shoot, albeit to a much lesser extent. Maggie, Brendi K, Shanice and Liz struggle to make the best of their pregnancies. Coura, Jeana and Rio brought it hard in the shoots, evoking an ethereal baby bump chic only rivaled by that of Beyoncé.

In judging, the judges agreed with many of the same sentiments, though they also identified with Erin and Christina’s shots as well (even moreso than Jeana’s…), even if I don’t completely agree. They pointed out weaknesses in Shanice, Maggie, Liz, Sandra and Liberty’s photos, placing them close to the bottom, but not quite there. The distinction of first bottom two for the season fell to Brendi K and Maggie. Tyra doubts Maggie’s potential as a supermodel as opposed to that of an Instagram model. While she points out Brendi K’s kick-ass attitude contrasted with her weak, lifeless photo for the week. In the end, it’s Maggie whom Tyra sends packing, and it’s a decision I agree with. Maggie simply didn’t take the competition seriously enough, refused to show her true self and faded to the very back incredibly quickly. Bye girl.

I’ll be honest in saying that this episode didn’t wow me, if only because not much really happened. That being said, this is always the case with a new season of any Top Model. We need time for the girls to bond and show themselves before things get really good. The first half of the episode was fun, but the pregnancy photoshoot was a bore. Knowing that makeovers are in the next episode, it really just makes me want to get to that one. That being said, this new “America’s Next Top Model” still towers above that of last season. It’s still on the right track.

“Beauty is Los Angeles”: 3.5/5

From left to right: Law Roach, Tyra Banks, Ashley Graham, Drew Elliott. Photo courtesy of VH1.

Moving into the next episode, they waste no time in presenting the models with their “Ty-overs,” aka their makeovers. Everyone knows the only episode in any given season of “America’s Next Top Model” that matters is the makeover episode. Tears are always shed over the new looks that Tyra entrusts them with, and this is no different. Liberty cries over having to go red (with Tyra saying “You vote red, you’re going red.”), Brendi K isn’t really happy about having to buzz her hair, but it’s Jeana’s reaction to having to lose her wig that was the most surprising part of the episode. Typically, when girls cry over their makeovers, it’s for purely superficial reasons and completely unfounded, but not with Jeana. Already blessed with a unique look, Jeana suffers from Alopecia Universalis, a disease where her body attacks her hair follicles, causing her hair to fall out.

Before the girls get their makeovers, there is just enough time for some drama to brew up between Christina and the girls. Miss. Holier-Than-Thou Christina calls Sandra out for not saying “excuse me” when she accidentally brushed shoulders with her. Unable to just drop the subject, Christina, almost knowingly, escalates it into a fight by pushing Sandra’s buttons in rapid succession, storming out of the house. After Christina leaves, Brendi K shares a story of how Christina rudely asked her to throw her trash away for her the night before, with camera footage showing the event. Christina, seemingly unaware of this footage, vehemently denies the allegations and has a literal breakdown about how all the girls hate her and gang up on her, making herself into the victim when everything she’s crying about has been directly caused by her. I’m getting really tired of Christina and I think it’s time for her to go. It’s not model-like for a 34-year-old woman to act like a 14-year-old brat.

At the makeovers, Liberty’s transition to red goes much smoother than anticipated, giving her a fiery new look. Brendi K slowly lost her excitement about her haircut quickly, making her a little down on herself again. But we focus in on Jeana, who is coming to terms with having to lose her wig and become bald. She harkens back to her bullying as a child and the trauma caused by her disease. When Law and Drew approach her with the makeover, Law shares a beautiful moment with Jeana as he holds her hand while the wig is removed, telling her that it’s time for her to “take your tragedy and turn it into your platform.” It was one of the most touching moments I’ve seen on the show in 24 seasons, and it really made me see how this new judging panel really does care about the girls on the show. Jeana gets her wig off, frees herself of her insecurities and looks absolutely amazing while doing it.

As a sidetrack, Shanice also struggles in her makeover as her initial plan of a weave falls through when she announces she has psoriasis of the scalp, leaving it at a severe health risks with extensions. She’s left without a makeover, sullying her confidence as all the girls around her, sans Coura, who is told she already has a trademark look, without a new image.

Other makeover highlights include Liz’s bubblegum pink hair, Rio’s bleached buzzcut, Khrystyana’s platinum blonde and Erin’s curly locks. Some looks that didn’t really work came in Christina’s highlighter yellow hair and Sandra’s blunt long bob. I don’t dislike Sandra’s for how it looks, but more so in how it seems to directly attempt to look like a Kim Kardashian look, which shouldn’t be Sandra’s trademark.

The girls’ photoshoot isn’t actually a photoshoot for the week, but a video shoot with Director X to show off their trademark new looks. This tests the girls on their overall presence, not just for the 1/200th of a second that’s captured in a photo. The presence required can’t be awkward nor can it be stilted. Some girls really come through with it, while others falter hard. The conservative Liberty is nowhere to be found here, with a sexy, engaging shoot that bodes well for her in the competition. Meanwhile, the usual strengths of Coura, Rio and Jeana come through incredibly strong. Liz also surprises, even if she lacks a neck in her shoot, her new hair fits her wonderfully. Brendi K, while seemingly not performing well in the challenge, comes through and surprisingly delivers a kick-ass video that finally shows us the girl we’ve been waiting for.

Meanwhile, many girls struggle in this challenge, including Shanice, Christina, Khrystyana, Sandra, and especially Ivana, who struggles with putting forth anything slightly coherent on camera. At elimination, she was given a pep talk by the judges to be more confident in herself and to pull through harder, but is it too late to?

During deliberation, Brendi K calls out (for lack of a better term) Liz for falsifying statements for sympathy, to which Liz completely blows it out of proportion by insulting Brendi K’s terrible home life. It doesn’t add much to the story here, but I figured it would be worth noting as some Brendi K–Liz drama has to be forthcoming after such a low, ugly blow delivered from Liz like this.

At elimination, deservedly and unsurprisingly, Liberty wins best performance for the week, followed by Jeana and Brendi K. The girls whittle down until we get to the bottom two in Ivana and Shanice, to which Tyra tries to surmise that, despite both weak performances, one girl seemingly wants to be in the competition more than the other, and eliminated Ivana, the Durham native, all the way back to North Carolina.

Where do we go from here? I’m sure the Liz and Brendi K drama is far from over, as I’m sure Christina’s preoccupation with being the perpetual snake-like victim in the house, and with as much as the show likes to keep bringing up Liberty’s Republican standing, there’s no way there isn’t some sort of confrontation coming over all of this soon. Decisions, decisions, this season of “America’s Next Top Model” is finally starting to show its teeth.

“Beauty is a Trademark”: 4.5/5

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Category:Arts and Entertainment, Television

Hunter Heilman Hunter is the current editor-in-chief for The Niner Times. He is a senior Communications major who wishes he were a dog and wants to pet your dog if you have one. Hunter has been a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) since August 2015. Hunter has been the editor-in-chief since May 2016. Please do not hesitate to shoot him an e-mail at editor@ninertimes.com for any questions or concerns and he'll be sure to get back to you ASAP.

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Hunter Heilman Hunter is the current editor-in-chief for The Niner Times. He is a senior Communications major who wishes he were a dog and wants to pet your dog if you have one. Hunter has been a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA) since August 2015. Hunter has been the editor-in-chief since May 2016. Please do not hesitate to shoot him an e-mail at editor@ninertimes.com for any questions or concerns and he'll be sure to get back to you ASAP.

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