Alas, your regular “America’s Next Top Model” recap, the inestimable Leslie Gornstein, is unable to be here tonight due to the fact that no matter what “Fringe” or “Lost” may have led you to believe, it’s currently only possible to exist on a single plane of reality at one time and Leslie’s currently plane of reality is, fittingly (but inconveniently), an airplane.
That leaves me to break the news of which model was dubbed most fierce by Tyra Banks, Noted Photographer Nigel Barker, Ms. Jay and The Reportedly Fired Paulina Porizkova.
Let’s just say that while I was completely satisfied with the way the “American Idol” voting went down this evening, my favorite model was not vindicated in Wednesday (May 13) night’s finale.
Results, with spoilers obviously, after the break…
Do we want to cut to the chase? Spill the end before saying how we got there?
America’s Next Top Model for Cycle 12 is… Teyona.
Yes, she of the harshly angled face. She of the consistently excellent photographs. She of the confident, ready-made runway strut.
Those are the positives. The negatives? Other than her somewhat disturbing resemblance to the Alien Queen (especially when she’s smiling), I regularly forgot that Teyona was around until the judges would rave about her pictures every week. When “America’s Next Top Model” crowns a girl without a personality as its winner, that’s a safe bet that you’ll never hear from them again and while Teyona’s certainly got a future as a working model ahead of her, it may not be a memorable one.
So how did we end up with Teyona as our “American Idol” winner?
Wednesday’s episode began with Teyona on equal footing with Allison and Aminat.
Up first? The Covergirl commercial, plugging for something called Outlast Lip Stain, a product introduced to us by Cycle 11 winner McKey. I was Team Analeigh last season, but I was happy to acknowledge that McKey was a better choice than some “Top Model” winners I’ve already forgotten. She took good pictures, but she also walked well and was capable of delivering a strong commercial if required. She was a triple threat, while all of this season’s contenders were, at best, double-threats.
Faced with their Covergirl commercial, even with the copy 95 percent in English, none of the three shined.
Aminat came close, but her version of the ad was robotic and uninspired. At least she remembered the text, which is more than could be said for Teyona, who burst into tears halfway through and recomposed herself long enough to stutter through. Allison took advantage of lowered expectations from her first shoot to look good by not looking awful. She looks awkward when she walks, talks and poses, so it shouldn’t be surprising that she plugs for lip stain awkwardly.
At panel, the judges were forced to praise Aminat’s shrug of her shoulders, the lone hint of inspiration or improvisation on display in the three shoots. But in Aminat’s photo? Her eyes are dead. The judges loved that Teyona smiled with her eyes in her Covergirl photo, even though the advertisement was supposed to be for lip stain and her mouth was barely noticeable. Allison, for her part, shoot patiently through her commercial and reaped the rewards for a beautiful photo that accentuates her lips and prompts Tyra to announce that Allison can also be a commercial (i.e. mainstream, not product whoring) model.
In the deliberation, Paulina worried that Teyona’s one-dimensional. Several judges worried that Allison seems short. And a consensus unfolded that for all of her potential, Aminat still hadn’t learned to be photographed. This is a problem for models.
Aminat was sent home, leaving Allison, whose picture was shown first, and Teyona.
Remember when there was drama in the house? When the girls had cliques and relationships and sometimes had fun, but sometimes yelled at each other? Well, Allison and Teyona didn’t even know they were in the house together, so as Final Two pairings go? Not much tension.
Really, it was a snoozer of a Top Two and all signs pointed to it being a rout when Jay Manuel explained that the last runaway would be a Brazilian Stomp for Rosa Cha at the underutilized Ibirapuera Auditorium, designed by Oscar Niemeyer. How could Allison possibly beat Teyona in an ultimate runway challenge built around bikinis and authoritative walking?
The answer? Diminished expectations!
Did anybody else miss the Allison we met in the premiere? The Allison who seemed on the verge of tears when she confessed that she’d never had a nosebleed, but who promised a near-vampiric excitement were anybody to be be accidentally and even partially exsanguinated during the season? I miss that Allison. Two weeks ago when they had the bathing suit shoot at the beach, Allison was actually sexy and I was like, “I don’t even know you anymore!”
I felt that way I felt watching Allison in the Final Runway. It wasn’t that Allison was suddenly ambling with panache or anything. In fact, sharing the stage with Teyona and a flock of Brazilian models, the wiggle in her walk was notably lacking. But she didn’t make you cringe with embarrassment, which was always part of the fun with Allison. She walked like a model and even showed a sense of humor, playing with tassels and doing a little dance with Ms Jay. In the show’s climactic event, with the models all drenched in grease, or grease-paint or chocolate sauce or crude oil, Allison writhed on the floor like the palest worm in this mineral-rich Brazilian soil.
So if we were grading on improvement, Allison won by a mile. If we properly handicapped our jockeys at the start of the race, Allison was several furlongs ahead.
Alas, twasn’t the case. The judges used words like “surprised,” “amazed” and “shocked” to describe Allison’s walk, while there were quibbles with Teyona. At the showcase of the season’s photos, neither model had a clear advantage, as both had the chance to see their faces memorialized as digital art several times during the season.
So how was the decision made? Ms Jay said Teyona wanted it more, but that Allison would play better in international markets (especially those in which women who resemble fish are considered sexy). Some people praised Allison’s improvement. Others praised Teyona’s consistency.
But consistency won out. Teyona was happy. Allison didn’t seem to expect to win. And Tyra took full credit for having spotted Teyona like a diamond in the rough.
Who am I kidding, though? I tuned out when Fo was eliminated. Fo was my girl.
Come back next season when “America’s Next Top Model” brings on the dwarves, or at least women under 5’8″. Will the show ever be the same again?
Thoughts on the finale?