Just knowing it was coming didn’t make it any easier to take. All week they’d been running a fantastic promo portending extreme emotion, as good as signing Nellie’s death warrant. But, like one of those fancy movies where they start with the ending (say Titanic, or The Butterfly Effect), once we were rid of the suspense of wondering how things would turn out we were free to soak in the plot, and decry the injustice of the whole thing at greater length.
Because Nellie did not deserve to miss out on a trip to Phuket (budget non-fashion destination it might be, but it’s the principle). Not when Mikaela took a disastrously empty photo, and Elza nearly hospitalised herself with a very high grade freakout.
In the end, though, it had to happen. You could argue for Nellie being top five, but not top four. So she was going to get kicked out anyway. And if you’re going to get got, it might as well be in the best episode of the cycle so far. Truly this was a near masterpiece of reality television, and one with so much visual appeal I put together a small, badly shot series of images at the bottom to commemorate its glory. Before then though, we have models to be ranked…
1. (LW: 2) Dakota
There will be readers who believe that Dakota is here purely as an irritant – that she is nothing more than a more deranged analogue to Holly. You readers are straight up wrong. Because while Dakota remains one of the fruitier characters reality TV has ever thrown up in New Zealand (excepting the entire cast of Sky’s early 2000s masterpiece The Player – need to write about that some day for sure), she also takes incredible photos most weeks. This time round we had her talking to herself in the mirror in a way most children have moved on from around the same time they tire of nappies, destroying Michaela in a classic mismatch of wits and facetiously declaring “he gives you the extra strength you need” – about the uh, Heavenly father. That is talking God the same way she talks cereal… basically she was Dakota all episode, and despite her unco-chic inability to, y’know, walk she had the judge’s fave photo of the day. You can hate all you want, but she has the comp on a string right now, and is feeding off all the attention.
2. (LW: 3) Courtenay
Second in the rankings, and the second model to have missed out on the chance to humiliate herself in Op Shop’s massive steaming pile of shit video to their massive steaming pile of shit new song (*****, NZ Herald, lest we forget)… Sensing a theme? Getting to be in an Op Shop* video is about as good for a model’s career prospects as stealing a dead baby’s identity is for your career in politics. Courtenay missed out, and in the process doesn’t have to explain to her grand kids what the f*** she was thinking. In other Courtenay related news, she totally nailed that very lovely Lonely Hearts lingerie shoot to the cross, and revealed that despite her oft-repeated desire to stay covered up the world is a far happier place when she lets it all hang out. The only negative this week was photographer Sisarich (so classic when he pretends to have a real job – the producers must just be psyched when he holds the camera pointing the right way), who remarked sadly that Courtenay “didn’t blow me”. No shit, check the tape. Keeping it from the Sis is not how you win Top Model, kids.
3. (LW: 6) Danielle
As far as dream looks for Danielle go, I reckon walking away from a burning car (quick aside – what’s wrong with this picture: “Think James Bond. Think fur and fire. Think Ford Fiesta”?) dressed as a sexy assassin is right up there. And all that incessant, wheedling praise from the judges has finally begun to pay off in her self-esteem/belief reaching normal model levels. Suffice it to say this very unfair advantage has resulted in her becoming a very dangerous competitor, especially for those who show weakness – witness her stunning strike at Elza (Elza!) “I just thought she had to pick up her bullshit and just get on with it” – which places the whole shoe-kicking incident in an entirely different light. And speaking of bullshit, that’s kind of a huge call coming from a woman who point-blank refused to answer questions in the classroom challenge all of a week ago. I’m starting to wonder if Dakota’s backstory would scrub up worse than hers if they’d decided to make it an issue – kicked out of home at 14, considering ‘adult entertainment, can barely walk… Regardless Danielle is surging right now, all the judges remain infatuated with her, so I’m starting to think she’s a top three cert.
4. (LW: 1) Elza
Massive drop, I know. But hear me out. Firstly, if Danielle’s been the number one recipient of the judge’s largesse, Elza’s easily been second in line. They’ve been petting her like a lapdog, and every mistake Nellie makes gets portrayed as evidence of her innate weakness, while Elza’s are swept away like so much pretty fringe. Secondly, now that Nellie’s been eliminated Elza has to live with being the most famous participant in that creepy waterworld Op Shop video. Shame, I think the word is. Thirdly she had a massive Grade A meltdown, one of the most violent since that dude with asthma on Stylista after a DyShaun tirade. You have to think that merited more screentime and discussion than it got. Anyway, the fact her photo was somehow totally amazing (though these shots looked incredibly re-touched to me – maybe that’s what CMJ’s immortal jibe “Sometimes things don’t work out for you. Like you Chris – your whole career.”) counters that a little. But my main issue is that we have no f***ing clue how she’ll behave in the post-Nellie era. Can she even speak, feed herself or ever smile again? It’s too big a wildcard – Nellie’s elimination could have as much impact on her chance of winning the title as being stripped of all the competition points did the Storm. Or she could be shiny happy Elza next week. All I’m saying is it’s such a big deal that you need to suspend betting on her until the effects of the last week become clear.
5. (LW: 7) Lara
At some point, you just have to down tools and admit that you might well’ve been digging a big-ass hole to nowhere productive. So it is with Lara today. I still don’t think she’s a winner, or even a finalist. I still think she’s gawky, and super weird emotionally. But man does she ever know how to survive, and shrug things off. She’s had any number of fat taunts – from the vanquished Holly, most notably. This episode Dakota had a crack at her ‘jiggling’ ass, while Danielle, who was on a serious bitchy streak noted she “definitely likes honking her own horn” – as if that wasn’t close to a pre-req for a model. The video director – who seemed extremely creepy, even by the elevated standards of music video directors – was entirely smitten with her, saying “she’s already a supermodel”, which as a statement has about as much a connection with reality as Sara’s current face does with Sara’s old face. With her two fellow competitors on either side in the rankings falling to pieces in more-or-less overt fashion Lara might well live to fight another day.
6. (LW: 4) Michaela
You can argue all you want about the merits of a 16-year-old wearing a massive pearl necklace on TV, but I guess what our resident artistic genius Sisarich wants, he gets – and when he’s instructing “you’ve gotta do something with your mouth”… You get the idea. All frankly horrible joking aside, Michaela took a bunch of backward steps this week. Stepping to Dakota was beyong foolish – that woman’s blood is up, and Michaela thoroughly deserved the smackdown she got for her absurd gall – “I don’t need a reality check from a 15-year-old”. Her prediction about the ‘alter of fashion’ being the mall made her sound younger still, and when you’re reduced to “you’re such a dick Dakota. No one likes you” it’s time to pack up your crap insults and head home for the day. Worst photo of the week (and probably the comp, as far as she’s concerned), plus her tearful “I let my grandma down, who’s watching me from heaven” was much funnier than it was affecting. I’ve got a feeling that Thailand will break her once-promising run for good.
* Congrats to Jane on correctly picking this one in last week’s comments, by the way. rare to see correct Top Model-related predictions on this site.