new york brioches ride the subway, or, top model part 2

okay, time to blaze through the rest of this episode. the girls receive tyra mail: “it’s time 2 take ur campaign underground.” they all know it has something to do with the subway, although alasia says, “i hope not because it smell like pee down there!” she’s not wrong. raina appears to be wearing a jessica mcclintock prom dress circa 1993. this doesn’t make me like her better.

the girls are driven to an empty subway station. it appears to be the dead of night. suddenly a train pulls up & mr. jay emerges with mike ruiz & nicole, “first ever winner of our petite cycle”. nicole giggles & waves while ducking her head. she’s wearing a very fancy blue dress–too fancy for the subway. jay appears to be wearing my brother’s favorite sweatshirt from second grade. jay tells the girls they are doing a cover girl ad & that this is “the big time”. they gasp & act excited. nicole shills for cover girl smoky shadowblast. i’m going to pretend that is a product that has something to do with “lost”. the girls will be made up to look like “new york city women,” which is to say, each girl will pose as an archetype. i have a sick fondness for these kinds of shoots, even though some girls are always the unfortunate victims of terrible styling. angelea is psyched about the shoot. “i’m just so new york, i’m from buffalo,” she says. brioche, please. buffalo might be IN new york, but buffalo is not the kind of new york jay is talking about. you’d think angelea would understand that, having spent a night in the port authority bathroom in a desperate bid to avoid having to go back to buffalo.

as the girls get their hair & make-up done, there is more shilling for the smokemonster blast eyeshadow crayon. anslee gushes that she loves it.

cut to angelea chatting with nicole. angelea asks nicole how she dealt with the drama in the house last cycle. did angelea not watch last cycle? those girls got along great. well, once they lost the dead weight hanging around in the beginning, like kara, who will forever be known as “that spoiled like trustafarian from nicole’s shorties cycle.” i hope she googles herself! she was not a good model. but nicole replies, “i just…stayed out of it. you can’t add to it. even if they’re driving you nuts, you have to stay professional.” angelea adopts a couples therapy technique & tells nicole what she heard: “say what you got to say, but then just walk away.” uh…not quite, angelea. “saying what you need to say” might count as “adding to it.” nicole encourages her to “stay classy”. pretty vague advice, that makes a lot of assumptions about the level of classiness angelea is bringing to the proceedings (no more or less than anyone else, really). but nicole’s what? 21?

brenda overheard the whole conversation & goes in search of jessica, because apparently this is part of how they need each other. she editorializes a little & claims that angelea required counseling because she feels “we got some bitches up in here.” brenda & jessica seem amused by this fiction. brenda seems to mock nicole’s voice a little bit when she recounts the advice she offers. jessica interviews that it was funny because there are some girls in the house “that just aren’t classy at all.” are there any girls that ARE? could we get some face time with them, please?

anyway, on to the actual shoot. krista is first, wearing a crazy dress that looks like a coffee filter. she has a long ponytail over one shoulder & is portraying an aspiring actress. krista does an absolutely fantastic job of smiling naturally & making the shoot seem effortless. she didn’t even break a sweat. jay was in raptures over her.

anslee was next, as an “east village artist”. circa 1984, judging from all the accessories they had piled all over her. she tried to do a little snarl thing at the camera, &…you know how it turned out. classic methface. “you look like you smelled the stench of the subway,” jay tells her. um…i have ridden a fair amount of NYC subways in my day & i never noticed that they smelled any worse than any other subway system. seriously, wait fifteen minutes for an subway at the aquarium stop in boston & then talk to me about subway stench.

alexandra is done up like an upper east side girl, which is to say, 75 pounds of fake pearls, a glittery sweater vest, & the bastard child of a sailor cap & a beret perched on her head. she looks pretty cheesecake to me. jay says she froze. she’s really pretty…but really boring. too bad they already had the plussie-wins cycle, because i do think she’s better than whitney. but she’s just filler at this point.

raina is “east village rockabilly”. they have her in bright red lipstick & a pompadour. i cannot even imagine this kind of styling in a real cover girl ad. i feel that it really hinders raina’s ability to fulfill the brief, because she’s trying to edgy rocker girl, & then she remembers it’s cover girl & she tries to be soft, but it doesn’t work with her styling. what is this shit? a deliberate attempt to trip her up & get her off the show? she also keeps putting her hands up by her face. raina! that’s how tatianna got kicked off last week.

more shilling for smokemonster eyeblast shadow. the make-up artist is wearing chain mail half-gloves. what?

jessica’s styling (“club girl”) is horrific. her hair is ratty & unkempt, her silver tank shirt is flapping open so she’s nearly showing her rack to everyone, her smokemonster eye crayon is up to her brow bone, & she’s wearing the make-up artist’s gloves. along with her body weight in tacky silver-plated jewelry. & she complains about struggling to maintain her balance on the moving subway. even though they are totally allowed to hold on to the rails. i don’t get why they’re having such a hard time with this. jessica seems fairly comfortable on set until mike ruiz asks for a smirk. “let’s see,” she says, “like–” “DON’T OVERTHINK IT!” mike & jay yell together. “you’re overthinking!” jay taunts as she stares sadly into space.

angelea is bound & determined to get photo of the week. she’s dressed as a “fashionista,” with straight hair parted down the middle & a blazer. she interviews that she’s going to lose her mind if jessica gets photo of the week one more time. she’s only gotten it twice, dude–same as alasia. chill. in her shoot, she nibbles on her sunglasses & smirks at the camera. jay is in raptures. i notice that angelea is basically posing as jay. she’s doing all the exact same facial expressions he does when he’s not wild about someone’s photos. angelea gets applause at the end of her shoot.

brenda’s styling is NOT cute. i guess it’s youthful…which only serves to highlight her resemblence to methuselah. she has some weird bow plunked on her head (can’t say it’s in her hair because her hair’s too short for that–it’s more like those stick-on bows people put on baby girls to indicate that they are girls), a blue blouse, a red ascot, & a red & white striped cardigan. she’s like a deranged escapee from madeline. brenda interviews that she needs a good shot & she needs to look young & fresh, but jay interviews that there’s just “something about brenda’s bones that make her look a little more mature.” that was tactful. brenda’s shoot doesn’t go well. she looks like an aged siamese cat.

alasia struts on set in skinny jeans, a white tee, a blue hoodie, & a long gold necklace with a pendant. “where’s jay?” she asks, posing with the subway pole like a stripper. “uh oh! it’s cover girl, not…$2 ho,” jay reminds her. alasia is portraying a model on a go-see. it goes shockingly badly. all she does is stand there a grin like an idiot. it’s not even a pretty grin. her eyes disappear & she’s not even posing. jay correctly says, “it’s almost like you are a model on a go-see giving us a bad polaroid shot.” couldn’t have said it better. alasia apologizes & says she can’t stop laughing. i think she’s trying to bring “lightness” & “free-spiritedness” to the shoot, but she’s such a mess, it’s coming off as incompetence. after she botches her last shot, jay admits that he doesn’t have a photo he can show tyra. alasia is shocked & then she cries. like that’s going to change anything. jay tells her to remember that she’s there to do a job. she says she’ll take that on board. later, looking into camera for an on-set interview, she looks really pretty. why can’t she translate that into a photo? i don’t know if she tries too hard or not enough. “we got it in the end,” jay assures her. lies!

back at the house, brenda tells her little buddies that she usually feels really anxious about shoots, but she feels a “sense of peace in [her] heart” after the subway cover girl shoot. enjoy that hubris while you still can, because you’re going home, sister! she reminds the girls yet again that she has the edgiest look in the house (jessica makes a face like she is really tired of hearing about this) & she thinks her photos have improved. she goes so far as to say that she thinks she should get called for best photo.

tyra mail! panel is coming & someone’s going home. wouldn’t it be awesome if whoever was eliminated got eaten by the smokemonster blast eyeshadow? make it happen! aslaia confessionalizes her anxiety over the cover girl shoot.

time to meet panel! tyra is wearing another motherfucking hideous jumpsuit. stop trying to make this happen, tyra! it doesn’t work for you or for any other woman in america, trust me. she looks like a lamp that a genie might emerge from. not the genie itself, mind you. the lamp. that is NOT a good thing. looking like a genie would have been a big step forward. she praises the girls’ panel outfits. krista is wearing flats. what are you thinking, krista? but tyra doesn’t notice/comment.

judges, prizes. the guest judge is ann shoket. WHY? tyra explains the photo shoot as if posing in a moving subway car is akin to bungee jumping into an active volcano. people in new york ride the subway everyday. even children ride the subway. & old people. & tourists. & dogs. & helper monkeys. it’s really not that complicated. these girls didn’t even have to go anywhere, they didn’t have to read a map & use the metrocard dispenser. give it a rest.

raina is first. she tells the judges she was “an east village rockabilly”. can “rockabilly” really be used as a noun like that? weird. tyra is upset because she thinks raina lost her neck. bull. shit. she’s totally extending her neck. she doesn’t have a swan neck, like krista (for example), but it’s there & she seems to be making the most of it given the constrains of her styling (big collar). what the fuck? i’m not a huge raina fan, but this is bullshit. ALT says raina “evoke[s] an ice-capped volcano.” what the fuck? i am so not excited about ALT anymore. he might actually be worse than miss jay ever was. bring back the bird noises! he likes her skin. ann likes her attitude. raina seems pleased.

nigel & ALT love krista’s photo. they think it’s fresh & all-american.

ALT praises jessica’s girl next door quality, but criticizes her choice of shoes. they are flowery metallic peep toes that may have a bit of a platform. “they take your whole innocent charm to a whole new level of…” ALT searches for the appropriate word. “skank?” tyra offers, “skeezer? hoochie? sexify?” she is enjoying this too much. “you’re kidding me, right?” jessica asks. her photo is not good. SURELY she had a better photo than this. none of the judges likes it. ALT says she looks spoiled & a person wouldn’t want her in their posse because she looks like she’s going to make trouble. he says it’s not appropriate for cover girl. try to tell me the judges aren’t fed lines by the producers about what’s going on in the house. we’re obviously supposed to hate jessica & think she’s a mean girl, but i think everyone in this episode was wrong, one way or another. jessica grimaces.

brenda was portraying a “student”. the judges don’t like it. nigel compares it to ann taylor, & then spouts off this whole thing about how brenda is better when she looks away from camera…even though this is the first time she’s looked away from camera, so what is he talking about? shut up, nigel.

alasia’s photo sucks. when i watched this episode with ailecia, she said it was mistake to photograph alasia in a white tee because it reflected all the light away from her face. & it’s true that her skin looks kind of dull here. but krista wore white & she looked great in her photo. & alasia wore white in her “interpretive dance” photo & made it work. maybe it’s a lighting issue? she basically looks like she’s posing for a class photo. nothing special. she acknowledges that it wasn’t her best photo. nigel says that it’s obvious she wasn’t thinking about anything & didn’t put anything special into the shoot. & then. & then! tyra goes off on this crazy ramble about how alasia was informed that her special strength was dancing, after her success with the afore-mentioned interpretive dance photo, & how she needs to bring dance into her shoots, but she didn’t do that with this shoot & that’s why it sucks. what? alasia is not a dancer. she just portrayed a dancer in one shoot (as did every other girl in the competition). she got called for best photo that week, but that doesn’t mean she has any special affinity for dancing or can interpret dance into good photos on a weekly basis. in fact, tyra hates dancers. i can only assume her genie lamp jumpsuit came with a serving of a crack because this is ridonkulous. ALT says he wouldn’t invite alasia in this wee’s photo to his house. alasia gasps & cries.

the judges like anslee’s photo. nigel says it portrays intelligence. ann says, “it’s like you have a secret & everyone wants to know what it is.” hint: she’s thinking about her meth lab. she’s also wearing a shade of tomato red last popular in 1983.

alexandra whips off her jacket on the runway when she is called in front of panel & wins praise from tyra. the judges love it. nigel doesn’t even get on her case for doing another leaning-backward side shot. ann says, “i would book you in a HEARTBEAT…for a beauty story.” subtext: you’re fat. i can see you love lasgna. do you also hate mondays? alexandra is pleased anyway.

last: angelea. she describes herself as a “meatpacking fashionista”. is she trying to tell us something about what’s happening in her drawers? i assume someone on set told her she was a fashionista from the meatpacking district. i love that she kind of botched it. ALT & nigel speak over one another to compete in who can offer the most effusive praise. “i hear you are very, very wonderful in your personal life,” says ALT. 1) what the fuck does that even mean? she’s good at remembering birthdays? she gives good massages? what? 2) jessica, raina, brenda, & alexandra all cock their eyebrows & smirk at one another. & nigel notices. & calls them on it. tell me this isn’t the producers manufacturing drama at panel. ALT seems dlighted that angelea has haters. he says that he always gets “realness” from her. nigel tells the other girls to watch out, because angelea’s shot is really good. (it’s kind of over-rated, if you ask me. with ZERO neck.)

the judges send the girls away & begin deliberations with some french vocabulary exercises. nigel loves raina’s photo but ALT thinks she’s playing it safe. everyone loves krista’s photo. the judges say that jessica is combative & argumentative. ALT says she has “fake confidence”. what the fuck is “fake confidence”? nigel harps again on brenda’s inability to look at camera. what the fuck? no one likes her. ALT has “cauldrons of love” for alasia. nigel thinks she’s a diamond in the rough, & tyra isn’t sure she can learn as quickly as the other girls. ALT likes anslee’s photo, but it doesn’t say cover girl to him. ann praises alenadra’s face again. everyone loses their shit over angelea again. ALT thinks she’ll be a cover girl. “i feel…HUMANITY!” he says. as in, “oh, the?” okay, that was cheap.

the girls return. angelea gets best photo & does her whole, “oh girl. thank you. ooh. oh. thank you,” thing like she’s so long-suffering. next: krista, raina, alexandra, anslee, & jessica, who gets a big speech about how she’s a big jerky know-it-all. tyra asks if she can walk in her shoes. “yes i can,” says jessica, unamused.

that leaves brenda & alasia in the bottom two. alasia is shaking & freaking out, as usual. tyra bricohes brenda out again for not embracing her haircut, but praises her for being a fighter. unfortunately, her photos are no great shakes. alasia is lectured for throwing away her gift of dance. what the fuck is this shit? alasia shakes. tyra gives alasia her photo. alasia pumps her fists & sobs. can you imagine trying to break up with this girl? you would be in for some serious crazy. tyra hugs brenda & tells her to build a portfolio with her short haircut. yeah…brenda’s not going to do that. brenda hugs her posse goodbye & goes home to pack. she is shocked that she did so badly, but takes the time to comment on her disbelief that angelea got such a good photo. “but her character was kind of snobbish, so that was easy for her to do,” she says. way to take the high road. she insists that she was born to model & that she looks forward to spending time with her daughter.

next week! the girls walk for drag queens. can’t wait to see how meatpacking angelea does with that challenge. & alasia is left behind when the girls ditch her for being late & she gets trapped in the loft when the elevator stops working. hilarious!

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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