Up until now, if I’m honest, I’ve just been fucking with Sisarich. I get it – he’s our Nigel Barker, only less charming and talented. But he is amost as creepy as Barker, and knowing that his American counterpart is renowned for running trains on the cast of each cycle, it was fun to just imply that Sisarich was doing the same. Particularly when he gave us some pretty fine material.
But this week? I am convinced. 100% sold on his being a lech and up to all types of dirty ass shit with these young women. There’s that photo up top, for sure. And the line which accompanied it, which I had to rewind five times to make sure I hadn’t misheard it. But that was hardly the only misdemeanour. How about this combo:
His mouth said one thing, but those hands said another. Anyway, the dude’s just comedy gold right now, and the editor’s are playing him like a flute. Or a copy of Leisure Suit Larry. Anyway, for this and 58 other reasons it was a stellar episode, one which answered all those ‘are they falling off?’ questions from last week pretty emphatically. So I guess it’s rankin’ time.
1. (LW: 3) Michaela
No one’s arguing, right? She fought her Christian faith (they own Christchurch, those dudes – even got naming rites) to go topless for the shoot, and managed to turn in a stunning shot, all lips and sultry looks. But more than that she managed to stay above what was rapidly becoming a mêlée amongst the more insecure/bullying (delete to taste) classes underneath. She just has a steeliness about her, a quiet force which suggests she has no interest in playing house politics. Add that to her tender years (she’s just 16, like last year’s winner Christobelle, who features in an utterly guileless Niva campaign to start the show) and you have a formidable package.
2. (LW: 5) Courtenay
I keep ‘jokingly’ referring to her as New Zealand’s Next Top Whitey when we watch at home… I know this is sketchy territory in light of this week’s bloggy shitstorm, but it is striking that by comparison to last year’s relatively uni-ethnic bunch that the contenders in this cycle seem to represent a very varied and contemporary vision of New Zealand. All that aside, Courtenay looms. Those enormous doe eyes seem to swell with both emotion and danger (for everyone whose looking at rather than through them) with each passing week. The shoot should have been a write off, a placeholder week for her – her features work much better in more traditional editorial. But she turned in a great photo, and like Michaela, who she’s virtually tied with, she is both part of the cool group but not participating in its catty excesses. Wise move.
3. (LW: 4) Elza
The twins stealthily but surely owned this episode. You could divide most of the group into a three camps: the bitches (Holly, Dakota et al); the broken (Jamie, Lauren) and oblivious. In this instance the obliviousness might be as much a pose as the bitchiness, but the twins took it to another level by responding to the rampant toxicity with a retreat into their most provincial voices and temperaments. It was entirely delightful to soak in it – Nellie’s “oh crikey”was a particular favourite – and they are starting to show that despite the natural inclination to think of them as token freaks, thrown in for the easy-mark manipulative opportunities, these girls have talent, looks and sly brains on them.
4. (LW: 6) Danielle
The Kawerau kid continues her remorseless climb (last three weeks’ rankings run 9/6/4), and I’m starting to become a believer. She was always perfectly pitched as the outsider, but until this week I wasn’t convinced that all the judge fawning wasn’t a fairly naked (pardon the pun, please) attempt to keep her on the show until the late rounds. Just for (now semi-predictable) quotes like: “Back home you’ve got three choices: 1. Get on the dole. 2. Get pregnant. 3. Get out out and do something with your life.” But the more she stays on the less I feel like they’re bullshitting me. Her freckles are seriously amazing, she has a lean strength, and despite harsh-as audience quotes like “she’s got an Adam’s apple” and her own anti-fashion (“I look like a retard”) schtick and just-don’t-give-a-fuck walk – Danielle is a genuine contender.
5. (LW: 2) Aafreen
She’s actually fine. I wouldn’t write this – and you certainly wouldn’t read/watch it – if there were no movement in the rankings. Aafreen’s slide from two to five cane be put down largely to my over-enthusiasm at her work last week and an over-reaction at a slightly disappointing week three. But yet… On the Zorb challenge (that actually happened right? Gumbiest shit yet NZNTM) she haughtily complained: “I feel like I was pushed significantly faster than the other girls there.” – probably referring to Courtenay, who nailed it. Maybe it was true, but also – who cares? She ended up taking a nice photo, but she has tangible flaws amongst her obvious strengths. She needs to get harder to make it really deep in this comp. That being said there was universal agreement amongst my co-viewers that Aafreen has by far the best body of the models – even if she might have a Gollum-esque hunch from time to time.
6. (LW: 9) Lara
The youngest and thus far most removed from the nastiness, Lara is now making a habit of turning her extreme naivete and youthful obliviousness into TV gold. This means one thing: top five. She is easily the most hated person in the house – “No one in the house really likes her. They actually hate her.” / “I just want grab a 9mm and BOOM! Die.” / “I think it’s Lara and her fat thighs.” / “Lara is a slightly bigger girl. She dropped at least a size and size and a half in her posing.” For all that she did spectacularly well – regardless of the other girl’s enmity she kept smiling through the other target’s tears. Real longevity will come from her cutely Kirsten Dunst-y vibe and the most spectacularly sunny attitude of anyone on the show thus far.
7. (LW: 4) Eva
Eva didn’t do anything awful tonight – no one did, really – but she was meek and mousy enough to drop five places. She’s obviously the most photogenic model – that is the one who transforms most startlingly from girl-next-door to shockingly angular in the pictures. BUT as often happens last week’s win on the judges’ vote made her complacent, thus shrinking her horizons. She’ll be better for a soft episode, and the early rounds are the best time to take a week off.
8. (LW: 8) Amelia
I expected Amelia to be either eliminated or explaining how she’s learned from the near-miss right now. As it is she had to do neither, and rather than be thrown into the deep end of justifying your position she instead gets a Rotorua mud pools shoot which ante-d up the exoticism of her look. I still think she’s a Farmers catalogue waiting to happen, but she’s managing to align herself with the cool kids (who probably allow her in because they don’t see her as a threat, as much as anything) and that will help save her from extreme emotional distress. She also got CMJ’s best line of the night too – “You need a bikini? I’ll lend you one of mine.”
9. (LW: 1) Dakota
Dropping from top to barely inside the top ten, and still I feel like I’m being generous. It simply could not have been a worse week for Dakota, and worse still, it didn’t feel like an aberration so much as a market correction. We bought too much Dakota stock because she looks incredible. And we ignored the personality flaws because they got caught in the hubbub of 14 screaming girls and the shock of the new. This week she got more screen time than anyone else, and used it to artlessly bully the younger and more naive members of the cast. That alone would have spelled alarm bells, but plug that into a listless couple of photos and a real proto-fame-addled nonchalance when she should have been turning it on (most pointedly in the dance studio) and you have a grade A disaster. Next week defines her – either she pulls her head out of her ass or stays distracted and irrelevant. The promo suggests the latter must be heavily favoured.
10. (LW: 10) Holly
Three weeks in a row at 10 for Holly, but despite that I am more and more convinced that she’s this season’s Teryl-Leigh (and not, as some have suggested, its Hosanna). She’s got the kid, but its the way she uses the kid as a mark of her maturity that allows her to run down the younger members of the house which is most telling. The ruthlessness of her cruelty to Lara – tellingly always behind her back, always on camera – suggests she is monumentally threatened by the other willowy blonde, and so long as she remains a long way back of the young Wellingtonian that will lead inexorably to a grand conflagration in short order.
11. (LW: 11) Nellie
Earlier I said I was hot on both the twins, and I stand by that. So why is Nellie just a spot above elimination town? Because she took a bad photo. And in a week when the photography was almost all good, and occasionally great, that was a real problem. At this stage I think it’s a blip – she has a winning personality, seems very emotionally stable and has already indicated a willingness to learn. But she needs a good shot next week to get her out of this rut, and translate all those ticks into a genuine reason for staying in the house.
12. (LW: 12) Lauren
The bottom three remain the same, and as I correctly sent Jamie home at the bottom of last week’s rankings that should make Lauren worried. There are three types of 16-year-old on this show – the ones older/wiser than their years (Michaela); those comfortable just being 16 (Lara); and lastly Lauren, who just seems overwhelmed by the whole thing. She undeniably very pretty, though not nearly so photogenic as many of the other girls. But mainly she just doesn’t seem to be able to brush off the barbed comments of the bullies. And this is a harsher bunch than last year – they can smell blood right now, and will not stop until their quarry is eliminated. As a result, I can’t see any other outcome than her being sent from the house this coming Friday.