instigating catfights may be fun, but recapping them is not

okay, i am finally getting around to recapping last week’s episode of “top model”. sorry to be kind of late–every other recapper on the internet has undoubtedly beaten me to the punch. it’s just that i am in the middle of writing this novel, & even though i am having a lot of fun doing it (baffling but true–once i get going, the writing is a real pleasure), it kind of drains me of the will to do any other big writing projects. well, except for the piece i submitted to “sick: an anthology on physical illness”. & the crap i write in my journal. &…okay, the truth is just that i am not a big fan of any of the girls remaining this cycle (the only girls that i could stand to take the title photo-wise have icky personalities race politics-wise, as we shall see as this recap unfolds), & while i enjoy watching, immersing myself in an episode in the manner required to write a big recap is not topping my list of favorite things to do.

but on with the show! who do i think will go home tonight, tyra? brenda or anslee. why the eff are those two still hanging around?

we open in the van, on the way home from panel. angelea looks pensive, in an ADD kind of way. cut to angelea in confessional, talking about how she needs a first call-out. she’s gotten runner-up twice, & she knows she needs to “take these bitches out” in order to get called first. actually, all she needs to do is be better than the other girls, but…sure. let’s let her spin her wendy pepper-esque web. also, because angelea is talking first, & talking about needing first call-out, we know that either she will achieve this dream, or she is going home this episode. they’ve started mixing up the editing a little, but it’s still pretty unsophisticated.

cut to alasia in the van, celebrating her second first call-out. in an interview, she talks about how growing up in the hood left her with a lack of self-confidence. (note to alasia: that’s actually just called being a teenage girl. it doesn’t have much to do with living in the hood. but she needs this whole underdog-makes-good thing to deflect attention from her zero-to-crazy-in-under-six-seconds-when-frozen-vegetables-are-involved alternate storyline, so again, let’s go with it.) she says the competition is helping her gain confidence & grow up, & modeling is her dream. she won’t let anyone stand in her way, not even herself. which means she’s gunning for a spot in the bottom two tonight.

raina asks angelea if it’s going to be weird to have an empty bed in her room, since tatianna (who i forgot existed) has been sent home. this sets angelea off on a very weird speech about how it’s “america’s next top modEL,” in the singular, & everyone knew they were going to be competing for one title, so she isn’t ging to waste time feeling sad when a competitor is eliminated. rains tries to clarify, “i’m just saying, is it weird? i’m not saying, do you like it?” it seems like raina is just trying to make conversation, but angelea just sniffs & shakes her head & says, “no.”

cut to krista interviewing that she, angelea, anslee, & alasia are “the realest people in the house”. she described raina, brenda, & jessica as “the people who need each other” & explains that the two groups do not get along. i am unclear on exactly what sets the “real people” apart from the people who “need each other,” since those do not seem to be categories that need to be in conflict. so i guess krista is speaking in some kind of code, which i have yet to crack. it’s also worth noting that alexandra lives in the house too, but apparently does not have a clique affiliation.

back at the house, jessica struts down the runway while the editors pipe striptease music over the scene. she’s grinning away & tosses her hair while she admires her own photo hanging on the wall as digital art & recounts some of the compliments she got from panel. in interview, angelea complains about jessica, saying that “jessica thinks she can do no wrong, that everything she does is perfect perfect perfect.” jessica did have a slammin’ week last week, most deservedly winning the challenge & taking a fabulous photo. for now, i think she is absolutely adorable, though that will change within the next forty minutes.

in the kitchen, angelea tries to start some shit with brenda & raina, asking them how it feels to be in the bottom. angelea appears to be laying into a bag of microwave popcorn while raina & brenda do their best to appear completely absorbed in the ingredient list on a container of yogurt. “y’all can ignore me…with the false confidence,” angelea says, slinking off. sorry, i know people find angelea really hilarious & fierce or whatever, but i think this sucks. we haven’t seen raina or brenda being rude to angelea at all yet, & yet she’s treating them like crap. who knows what’s lying forgotten on the cutting room floor, but i’m not feeling angelea right now. not that i have any real use for brenda or raina either, but at least they’re minding their own business…for now. i also don’t think it’s “false confidence” that is inspiring them to give angelea the cold shoulder, so much as a lack of interest in taking the bait. i’d do the same thing.

but in confessional, brenda gets my dander up by saying that she’ll be “damned if she lets someone like angelea beat [her] in this competition.” not sure what she means by that “someone like angelea” part. is it a race thing? a class thing? both? it does not sound like an innocent remark to me. back in the kitchen, brenda counsels raina to let angelea run her mouth, & makes the universal “yakkety yakkety” chatterbox hand motion. i’d classify that as taking the bait.

in confessional, angelea says that she loves to instigate catfights. “all i have to say is one word, & it’s already been instigated,” she says. that’s great. but why bother? you do have to live with these girls. they’re being picked off one at a time, yes, but you still have to share a bathroom with them for at least another few days. why purposefully create a hostile living environment? not that any kind of living environment that contains brenda doesn’t sound like a cursed hellscape.

in their bedroom, brenda says she’d rather be struggling in photos but learning every week than “be known for the bitch”. does she mean “as the bitch”? also, why is she wearing maternity pants? raina takes the happy shiny armchair psychologist route & says that “something must have happened to her to make her so angry.” brenda says, “she’s just a bitch, & i feel sorry for her. her time will come,” just as angelea appears in the doorway. brenda is hanging up clothes in the closet & doesn’t see her–she just keeps yakking away about what an enormous bitch angelea is, ignorning raina’s “dude, shut UP!” facial expression. angelea gives a very senatorial little speech, standing in the doorway like she’s been tied to a broomstick by one of naduah’s fellow cult members. it amounts to, “you can call me a bitch, but i’m just being real.” “being real” is pretty much a synonym for “being a bitch,” & i say that as someone who keeps it very real. raina smiles & says, “thanks for keeping it real, angelea!” in such a sugary-sweet way, it actually sounds sincere. until brenda chimes in & says, “yeah, thanks, angelea,” whilst dripping sarcasm & hate. “you’re welcome, you’re welcome, it’s what i do best!” angelea says. it’s too bad that modeling isn’t what she does best, as this is a modeling competition. on her way out, she tells raina, “that little false confidence you been having, thinking you’re at the top of the pack & can do no wrong, bitch, i’m here to tell you, it’s very wrong.” zing? that wasn’t even witty. i always feel bad for people who try to confront other people on talking shit but do it in such a disappointing way. raina grimaces & looks confused.

in interview, raina says she would like to have a relationship with all the girls in the house, but “angelea is not in the cards”.

apparently, poor alasia actually shares a bedroom with jessica, brenda, & raina. all four of them are in their room, & all the white girls are chatting together while alasia draws a big puffy heart wearing a crown in a notebook. raina floats the theory that angelea thrives off of anger & hate. jessica sees this as a moment to say, “i don’t get along with…so & so.” the other girls catch on to the fact that jessica is referring to alasia & start giggling, which is just straight up needlessly mean girl behavior. alasia interviews that she will have no problem with her roommates as long as they “stay off [her] territory.” she pipes up to remind the other girls that she’s in the room. they try to justify their remarks by remarking that she said she didn’t want to talk to them. alasia points out that it’s three-against-one. they seem to ignore her & raina does her best to talk over her (at normal conversational levels, but…still).

tyra mail! “when u walk in, u might have a fit.” is it too much to hope that the girls are going to get tasered? raina guesses runway or go-sees. that doesn’t mean a taser can’t be involved!

the next morning, the girls are getting ready for their mystery appointment, & a few of them remind alasia of their pick-up time. alasia ignores them & jumps in the shower. she says that she refuses to skip her shower. kudos for the whole trying-not-to-smell thing, but surely these girls can get it together so that everyone is showered & out the door on time. maybe alasia could have dipped in her valuable puffy-heart-illustrating time to shower the night before?

the girls dash into the “seventeen” magazine headquarters to find miss jay & ann shoket (NOOOOO!) awaiting them, looking sternly at their watches. alasia confesses that she’s responsible for the group’s tardiness because she needed a shower. miss jay doesn’t want to hear it. “shower the night before,” he says. & then ann bursts out with her first “heeeey ladiiiiiiieeeees” of the episode & my ears burst forth in a fountain of blood. most annoying voice ever. i have created a character in my novel who has a really annoying voice, & she is based on ann shoket. her annoying voice is a pretty significant plot point.

ann tells the girls they’re at the office for a teach–they are going to learn to dress for their body proportions. ann shows them the fashion closet, chock full of clothes, & teaches the girls about long torsoes, short torsoes, et all. long torsoes should wear high-waisted bottoms & large belts. very slim girls should wear color-blocked dresses with flouncy skirts to create the illusion of curves. athletic girls (“like raina,” says ann, & receives a death glare from raina in return) should wear ruching. what? how does ruching not make a boxy girl look even boxier? this is why i have always thought these kinds of stories in teen magazines were total bunk. plus, what if you are two or three body types all at once. i’m wicked short-torsoed because of my missing vertebrae, but i also have a huge rack. what the fuck do i wear to highlight my assets & disguise my “figure flaws”? miss jay defines “ruching” for the girls. you can tell alasia had no clue.

the girls have five minutes to go through the “seventeen” fashion closet & put together an outfit that flatters their body type. brenda struggled because she couldn’t locate her waist. &…seriously? how the fuck do you not know where your WAIST is? i am going to give her the benefit of the doubt here & assume she was overthinking things–that the teach threw her off because “dressing for your body type” is such a basic concept & she thought maybe locating her waist was more difficult than she’d been thinking all these years.

in judging, ann outs brenda in front of everyone as having a hard time locating her waist, but praises her choice of a wide belt. she also goes bananas for angelea’s cute flats, & angelea incurs my senseless wrath by doing that little pursed lip-peace sign thing she does when the attention of judges is focused on her. HATE IT. ann seems to think that angelea was going for a youthful look. she likes what alasia is wearing, but criticizes her for thinking she is short-torsoed when she is in fact an hourglass figure. because she has boobs. that’s a no-no in the in the fashion industry, alasia! alasia is dumbfounded. the girls get to keep their clothes. this was lame. really, really lame.

in the car after the teach, jessica voices some frustration with alasia for making everyone late. “when you have a baby, you learn to think about other people,” she says. alasia look somewhat chastened & mutters something in reply. jessica says, “don’t talk when other people are talking. i’m talking.” krista’s jaw drops in shock & delight as…ALASIA UNLEASHES THE KRAKEN. seriously, this is the third time in six episodes that alasia has flipped the fuck out on someone. she trots out all the usual chestnuts, “don’t tell nobody to respect you when you don’t respect nobody damn else! who the hell are you?!” etc etc. brenda plugs her ears. jessica smiles. angelea does her trademarked cat claw, accompanied by a hilarious meowing noise that made my cat look around. jessica says, “OH MY GOD! get me out of here!” & pretends to shake some prison cell bars while brenda smiles sympathetically. alasia frowths (frowns with her mouth) & looks out the window. i’m not saying that the house as a whole treats alasia really well & that she has no reason to complain. but i am so sick of her screaming at people EVERY FUCKING EPISODE. & then over-emoting & crying & shaking (with happiness or despondency) at panel. she seriously needs to get a grip. every other girl in the house is only a couple of years older than her, at most. the fact that she’s 18 is no excuse. in confessional, she likens jessica to malibu barbie (even those she’s a teen mom from arkansas) & calls herself “marietta barbie”. i think there are some class/race dynamics at play, & alasia feels extra disrespected because of her race. & she’s probably not wrong about that. which means there’s no easy solution & we will probably have to deal with screaming fights for the rest of the season. argh. the other girls seem to enjoy the fight.

in confessional, brenda reminds us all of the fight & we get to see a new aspect of it: brenda & angelea get into it, brenda describes angelea as “uneducated,” angelea takes unbrage with that description & attempts to brag about her college, but i can’t for the life of me figure out what the fuck she’s saying. her school was approved by “redbook”? what? i don’t get it. in interview, angelea laments the fact that people think she’s uneducated because of “the way [she is].” she acknowledges there may be some assumptions being made about her because of the way she talks, but she refuses to code switch. to show us all what she won’t do, she brags about a community college in buffalo with a shitty upper-crust british accent. what the fuck on so many levels. but fair enough. the white ladies in the house should not make assumptions about angelea’s smarts just because of the way she talks. angelea calls brenda a “stupid ass bitch”. wow. that’s so witty.

back at the house, raina does her nails & tells the “people that need each other” that she predicts alasia is eventually going to lose it “throw a punch”. she refers to alasia as “they,” like she’s not sure what pronoun alasia prefers. brenda says, “i hope she does! she’ll be on the first train home. i’ll take one for the team!” i wish alasia would punch brenda, mostly because she gives ann shocket a run for her money in the “annoying voice” department. but it’s probably not worth losing a spot in the house.

angelea strust into the room like she owns the place & asks what they’re talking about. she plunks herself down on jessica’s bed. jessica says that all the drama is driving her crazy. angelea puts on her “helpful therapist” hat & says, “when you’re living with girls, especially females” blach blah a bunch of crap about how people need to try to understand each other. “especially females”? awesome. jessica looks taken aback & thinks that angelea is subtly calling brenda out on something. brenda tries to kick angelea out of the room. angelea refuses to go. so brenda leaves instead, & interview that she’s not going to “let [her] feathers get ruffled over that.” she talks like a schoolmarm from 1941.

the girls get tyra mail announcing that someone is at the door. it’s some woman (tinsley herself?) announcing that tinsley mortimer is launching a line of handbags. who cares? stop trying to make us give a shit about “high society,” CW. it’s not happening. the girls are invited to a hip happening industry party tinsley is throwing & they have to mingle & try to impress the people they chat with. at the party, mr. jay tells them he hopes their style teach will help them. what? this is all hanging together very tenuously. the vampire episode was so much better.

alasia is very anxious about the industry party. brenda is not worried at all. she describes herself as “very uppity” & says that “this is the sort of party [she] goes to back home”. i am so sure. i mean, she’s snobby enought o wish she did, but i doubt she gets any real invites. krista turns on the charm with people. alasia clutches a diet coke & is too scared to talk to anyone but mr. & miss jay. they suggest that she mingle, & she wanders off to sit alone on a fancy couch. what’s up with this girl? she’s ready to throw down & insult someone’s skills as a mom over some frozen vegetables, but she freezes at a party where she could meet potential clients? nothing against alasia as a person, honestly, but how the fuck did she pass the psych test?

turns out tinsley wants to talk to each girl one on one. jessica is first & tells tinsley about what she learned at the teach. she also praises one of tinsley’s bags very specifically & seems incredibly relaxed. anslee is next & says she likes “coco chanel’s pictures”. pictures of what? pictures of coco chanel specifically? photos of her designs? she’s obviously talking out of her ass. tinsley catches on & asks anslee if she knows who chanel’s lead designer is right now. she does not. pause. who the FUCK doesn’t know who chanel’s designer is? especially in the world of young women who are aspiring fashion models?!? theoretically, these girls read fashion magazines, they follow fashion week, they ought to KNOW models & designers & fashion houses. anslee should get kicked off right this second for not knowing about uncle karl (lagerfeld, for those of you who are not aspiring models & don’t know). seriously, a vaudeville hook should emerge from stage left & just drag her away. instead, tinsley drops karl lagerfeld’s name & anslee grimaces. brenda is next & she says her favorite designer is michael kors. of course he is, because she’s 63 years old. tinsley praises raina’s dress. tinsley asks what designers alasia likes & man. she does not handle this well. she’s apparently on a nickname basis with “louie V”–“he’s so cuuute,” she says. i wonder if she knows that he’s dead? she describes louis vuitton bags as “the ones with all the…colors.” she fidgets with her hair & doesn’t know when to leave. awk…ward.

jay & tinsley judge the girls. jay is wearing a stunning plaid tie. tinsley has a lot of nice things to say to the girls, but jessica wins. because she had photo of the week & would have participated in the challenge win either way, she gets to choose two friends to do a spring fashion shoot for “seventeen” magazine. she selects raina & brenda as her challenge buddies, naturally. i bet ann is not psyched to have to feature brenda. we get another “heeeey laaadieeeees” at the shoot, which is supposedly about “personal style,” even though the girls are professionally styled & have to wear clothes that “seventeen” chooses. so…sure.

back at the house, raina is in confessional, venting about alasia’s tendency to “pick of jessica”. she speculates that she does it because “jessica is a nice girl”. what she doesn’t know is that alasia is outside, listening. when raina steps out of confessional, alasia is waiting for her. raina is clearly concerned that alasia heard her & is all, “hey lady!” if raina doesn’t win this season, ann shoket is going to be really mad. alasia blows her off & goes inside to do her own confessional, all about what a big fake raina is for talking smack on alasia & then being nice to her face. raina stands outside & listens. &…okay, here’s what i think:

raina pretty much wants everyone to get along, but she connects best with jessica & brenda. maybe it’s some fucked up race thing, maybe they sincerely like each other & have things in common–we haven’t really seen enough of the house dynamics to make that call yet. raina has seen what happens when people try to get through to alasia with a critique, & rather than UNLEASHING THE KRAKEN herself, she has turned to the supposedly safe space of confessional in order to express her feelings. which is just about the smartest thing she could do: she’s not getting into it with alasia, & she’s not egging on anyone else to hate on alasia, but she’s expressing her frustrations, & she does seem genuinely frustrated by her perception that alasia picks on her friend. she didn’t intend for alasia to overhear her. BUT. my goodwill for her takes a nosedive when she beckons jessica over to listen in on alasia’s defensive confessional, & they dance around outside the room doing neck rolls & finger snaps–ie, bizarre, caricatured racial mimickry. NOT COOL, GUYS. now i’m not on anyone’s side because they are all wrong & annoying in different ways & to different degrees. DON’T MAKE ME ROOT FOR ALEXANDRA, Y’ALL. she & krista are the only girls this episode that don’t make me want to set myself on fire.

okay. i’m leaving it here for now because jared is coercing me into making dinner & this thing is already like 4000 words. i’ll try to do the rest tomorrow.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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