New Zealand’s Next Top Model: Cycle Two / Episode Six

The brutal axing of two of the strongest models in one week has shocked the Model-watching world from its slumber. Despite Lauren and Eva’s pre-show rankings of three and six respectively, they are now banished from the house, and must live once more amongst the humans in RL.

“It really makes you think,” said one observer. “If someone as pretty as Eva or with a haircut as appropriate for her face as Lauren can be eliminated, no one is safe. NO ONE!!!”

Crap quasi-news story intros aside, the decision to send the two youths home at once was probably quite guttering for all those who remained. Losing 20% of your colleagues at once would be traumatic for any workplace, and it has the effect of fast-forwarding us to business time – due to the strength of this cycle’s field all those still standing are either bonafide contenders or Holly.

The latter is clearly being carried now – she’s pure bitch appeal, and must on some level be aware of it – a minimum of four objectionable comments per episode to retain her place. As long as she keeps delivering the condescending, joyless lines she’ll keep getting plumb assignments like putting makeup on Courtenay’s eyes (to paraphrase CMJ, a blind person could’ve won with that draw), leading to cheap wins and evading the axe for another week.

Other than the extra shrinkage the main talking point* was the abysmal styling of the photo shoot. They took a bunch of bubbly adolescent girls and turn them into the most frightening kind of Howe Street hookers – truly the worst look of the franchise’s short history. Anyway, aside from the two eliminations there have been a number of big moves, so let’s rank them.

1. (LW: 1) Elza

This episode was a watershed for a number of participants, rebounding for some, sinking feelings for others, but the twins just grow and grow. I’m not altogether convinced they’re not actually one person and this isn’t just some massive mindfreak experiment conducted by either Criss Angel or The Illusionators. Their provincial banter is fantastic (I particularly liked the extremely unconvincing ‘holla’-s), and while Elza remains the more dynamic of the duo, the more I watch the more I’m convinced that should they become models they’ll only work together going forward. And they will get a lot of work.

2. (LW: 5) Courtenay

Last week was but a blip for Courtenay as she began the episode by gifting Holly a win in the eye make-up challenge and ended it by virtually eliminating her partner in the shoot. Courtenay was the only model who managed to transcend the awful costuming and now that Eva has gone I think she becomes favourite to scoop the whole thing. The photo really was incredible, for once I agree with Sara’s assessment that it was the best of the comp so far. But because she’s so placid and meek compared to the likes of Dakota and Holly she should be able to ghost through without attracting too much jealousy until at least the final four. Feel free to disagree, but I think she established herself as favourite on Friday.

3. (LW: 4) Michaela

It wasn’t a breakout episode by any means – more like treading water – but in a week where two threats were neutralised and others somewhat hobbled just holding your place was worth something. The judge’s comment regarding her only having one look certainly has some merit, but it’s such a good look that it’ll get her through a few more tight spots while she learns another. She was sweet to poor Eva, who completely disintegrated mentally, and her admission that her favourite food is KFC’s Ultimate Burger Meal was one of the best moments of the ep, both for wrong-footing the stereotype and showing a genuine lack of awareness of the audience. The latter is a quality which endears you to both judges and the public, while its absence is often toxic…

4. (LW: 9) Dakota

…not always, though. After weeks of making a dick of herself with 15 different types of foolish behaviour Dakota finally hit the right note, and immediately stuck to it for the remainder of the episode. It might be too early to say whether she can remain on-message for long enough for it to sink in, but it was a great reminder that there is a keening intellect behind the motormouth and that while her chameleonic personality might be disconcerting it’s also a huge asset to her as a model. This is because it allows her to completely inhabit whatever role she’s assigned to herself, something none oif the other girls have grasped yet. That alone makes her a dangerous competitor, but add to it the self-deflating (!) sense of humour (!!) she displayed while failing to seduce Tetro’s personal trainer and you have a genuine wildcard package. Even the poorly phrased clanger “I think he’s got a mirror in his pants, because I can see myself in his pants” had a charm to it. She lost marks with the judges over her wearing a beanie to the challenge (CMJ’s zinger: “Is she a homeless?”), but won her flatmates over with a well-judged victory over Holly in the housework wars, and if she can keep up this episode’s combination of irascible and irrepressible she will be near the top next week.

5. (LW: 8) Lara

If you’d mentioned ahead of time that two models went home due to immaturity my first reaction would’ve have been to put money on one of them being Lara. Up until this week she seemed frivolous and one dimensional, when you even noticed her presence at all. I’m still not convinced she can win the whole thing, but she had the equal second best shot today, along with Dakota, and similarly displayed a toughness which will serve her well. At least I think it was toughness. Sometimes Lara seems a little strange, like she’s missing a few emotional cells which are over-represented in the average teenage girl. Sometimes it can be disconcerting, how blank she appears, but it’s undoubtedly played a part in getting her this far, and is it keeps getting her photos as fine as this week’s it may take her much further again.

6. (LW: 10) Nellie

I was one of the worst university students of all time and so can’t remember whether it was Schopenhauer or Heidegger (almost certainly neither) who proposed that in order to truly live you must first acknowledge and internalise the inevitability of your demise. Whoever it was, Nellie is living proof of their being at least some merit to their perspective. Last week she appeared crushed by the prospect of elimination. Now though, having stared death in the face and realised it might not, in fact, be all that frightening, she’s modeling with a relaxed, playful demeanour, and as a result might end up traveling far deeper into the comp than anyone anticipated. Her dive into the pool (“I like doing funny things!”) was something her more prissy colleagues would’ve never risked, and she has seemingly resolved to just have fun from here on in, and not take this bizarre charade very seriously at all. Paradoxically that makes her the most dangerous adversary of all – a rogue presence with no investment in the outcome, whose movements and responses cannot be predicted and for whom the experience is a reward in itself. That attitude is as alien and revolutionary to Top Model as suicide bombers are to conventional warfare.

7. (LW: 2) Danielle

A massive drop. In percentage terms, perhaps the biggest of the rankings thus far. In a week when she didn’t do anything spectacularly, tragically wrong. So why the decline? I guess it was to a large extent from a feeling like the Kawerau schtick is starting to wear a little thin. Maybe ‘wear thin’ is not the right phrase – I think it’s more that her background and life experiences, once so exotic and pleasingly unfamiliar, are now starting to feel like something of a crutch. Saying that she had never applied make up to anyone before might have been disarming in week two. But six weeks deep it grates a little – even if it’s true (I don’t suspect otherwise) then surely she could have spent some time learning the art at the house? The nonchalance jars with how the producers are making her “uncomfortable. But I like it’ – where Nellie has just stopped caring about the outcome, Danielle has done the reverse. That is to say that thanks to the wheedling of our judges she now is thoroughly invested in the outcome of a competition she initially entered for a dare. With that being the case she needs to start playing the same game as the regular competitors, because the free ride will last only so long.

8. (LW: 7) Holly

Really unimpressed with Holly’s week. As I mentioned before her ‘win’ was transparently engineered and therefore inadmissable as evidence of her talents – though it was telling that she again excelled at a promo girl-type task. Those lines are not going to go away. The Cleo editor suggested, in time-honoured Top Model cliche, that she maybe needed a pole with the poses she was pulling during the shoot, a line Sisarich liked so much he stuck in his back pocket for use at judging in lieu of having to come up with one of his own. Around the house she was a total controlling buzzkiller, even authoring that timeless document of flatmately discontent, the Chores Roster:

It had obviously been around a while before they showed it to us – hence the presence of Amelia and ‘Afreen’ (she didn’t even bother to spell her name right!) – but what I want to know is how Elza managed to get out of a second task – I smell a conspiracy. Beyond that she lost the PR war with Dakota, who might be annoying, but at least knows how to have a laugh. Holly’s laughter is snide and shriveled and follows phrases like “it would be very convenient if she went home today” as if she’s some sort of Machiavellian genius. When in fact she’s a model contestant who betrays not the slightest self-awareness. If she did know what was up she’d realise that both her and Dakota are assured of their places precisely because they rile each other up. In which case Dakota going home would only serve to hasten her own demise. Sharpen up, etc. Plus Holly seems even less aware that she’s on a TV show with each passing week, whereas Dakota’s started talking directly to the camera/audience outside of confession cam time, a vaguely seditious act in this context. So Holly is everyone’s enemy – but as per convention that makes her ratings gold, so she won’t be going home next week unless something truly weird happens.

* Actually one more point – anyone else notice we got the credits from last episode?

This isn’t the first screw up in that area this season – pretty sure Sisarich’s wardrobe was mis-credited in episode one, and Sara said “Thanks Lauren” to Courtenay in this episode’s edit – but I’m OK with it. The screwups just make it feel more local.

– Duncan

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9 Comments

Filed under Power Rankings, Reality TV

9 responses to “New Zealand’s Next Top Model: Cycle Two / Episode Six

  1. gabbygoose

    Particularly well-summed up this week Dunc and yes the ho photos were hideous. But the savage dumping of Bob-Cut Lauren and yet Danielle’s still there…?

  2. James

    I haven’t had a chance to watch the series yet Duncan – is your use of the malapropic Kiwi suburban vernacular “guttering” (similar to child “molesterer” or pronunciation of racist as “ray-schist”) a winking reference to the vocab of the girls on the show?
    What a pretentious comment.
    Anyway, hello!

  3. Duncan

    Thanks Gabbygoose, it felt like a good one. I think Danielle might be just about gone. Just got a feeling is all.
    @James – You’ve managed to decode the word’s lineage perfectly. Lots of people noted it at the time, but I might be the only one campaigning for its elevation to the national vernacular. I trust you’re with me on that. Tour photos are amazing, esp liked Pilbrow and the fridge o Bud.

  4. Nooooooo! Don’t you speak ill of the fabulous Danielle! She’s mega-popular on a whole lot of different forums so I imagine there’d be much wailing and gnashing of teeth if they booted her. Not that that’s going to stop them, but still…

    Talking of insane bootings – WTF was up with the eliminations this week? Completely nuts IMNSHO – and utterly transparent in terms of Holly and Dakota still being there and two girls who had way more promise than they could ever muster now being gone.

    That whole “oh I think she’s losing the plot and cracking up – we’d better get rid of her” thing about Eva was ridiculous. Here’s a girl who’s absolutely got “it” at far as that undefinable (and unteachable) ability to look stunning in photos – who’s taken great photo after great photo – seemingly without even trying – and they eliminate her? Please. Unless there was a heck of a lot going on last week that we didn’t see in terms of Eva’s emotional state, that’s just a stupid excuse.

    Same (or similar) for Lauren. OK I know she’s young, but her pictures were pretty darned good, she blossomed amazingly after the makeover, was so good at talking to grownups that she won the meet and greet challenge over girls years older than her – and now they’re saying she’s too young and immature?

    They say they don’t want young and immature – then they should have got rid of Dakota. They worried that “she only took ONE good photo in the whole entire shoot” – then they should have given Holly the boot.

    The fact that they did neither of these things shows with great clarity that the producers of this show are not interested in finding a model – they’re interested in good teevee and good ratings. Period.

    Oh I know, the cynics among us would ask me whether I’ve been living under a rock, and would wonder whether it’s possible for anyone to be so naive about this show that they actually believed it was really about finding NZNTM.

    I do understand that good ratings is what all telly thrives on, and that all competitive reality TV shows are about ratings first and the competition second – but still, I feel for all these young girls who tried out for the show in good faith.

    Most won’t understand until it’s too late that the edit can make or break you – and that the repercussions of that edit will follow you back to RL and potentially wreak havoc (anyone fancy getting a Holly or a Dakota edit and trying to live with it in RL? I wouldn’t!). And until now, may of them won’t have understood that going far in a show like this is sometimes not about how suitable you’d be as a winner – but about how good your confessionals are and how much of a bitch you can be.

    Bah!

  5. gabbygoose

    Hey, I’m a big Danielle fan, and I like her guts and spirit, and she actually scrubs up particularly well in those photo shoots (except for last week but she wasn’t alone there) but NZNTM?? Really?? Nah, give her a job on Shortland Street

  6. Heh. Gabbygoose – what I see in Danielle is an unexpected beauty. Those freckles, the shape of her face, her crooked nose and strong mouth. I think she’s got one of those faces that some might see as androgynous, others might call pretty-ugly – but that the modelling world often loves because of its differences from the normal definitions of pretty or beautiful. I think she could do rather well as a model because of that.

    As to whether she will get a chance to show that face and that spirit to a wider world of modelling agents I have no idea – but I hope she does, cos I think she’s pretty cool.

  7. julia

    Been ill and have just watched cycle 14 of ANTM in about two days. Noteworthy because now I feel I THINK like Tyra and as such can say that Tyra would BE ALL OVER DANIELLE LIKE A RASH. This is because Tyra requires her contestants to have a good back story. It’s also made me a tad insane. BUT GUESS WHAT? In the Runway challenge/show-thing at the Auckland Museum, whooooooo gets 3 (!) good camera shots taking part in the Anna Sui catwalk challenge??? HOLLY. Looking totally smug about it too.

  8. julia

    Like, I don’t know what it Means, but I know that somehow it is significant.

  9. Duncan

    THAT IS AMAZING JULIA. I can so picture her smug little long face too. Harrumph. 3 hours til blast off. So excited.

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