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Let’s recap before the recap, shall we? We start Cycle of 7 of the inimitable 'America’s Next Top Model' with thirteen girls, some of whom disappeared before they had a chance to reveal a tearjerking back story, while others stuck around to reveal husbands, babies, car accidents, and quite possibly a childhood raised by drag queens. Predictably, the plus-size girls got kicked off early (see ya, Whitney and Diana), the sassy black girls were given a token chance before getting the boot (Felicia and Dionne, we miss you still), and someone with no discernible beauty somehow made it to the trip abroad (Jael, where on earth did you come from? Oh, that’s right—Detroit).
So basically, it's the ANTM season we’ve all come to expect. Except when we’re left with the top three, we have an unruly lot made up of girls normally given the ax before Tyra tells them all to pack their bags. Natasha, a Russian mail-order bride who’s a dead-ringer for Angelina Jolie but made it through the usually-fatal “photo shoot while sick;” Renee, the token “old-looking” one who was the house villain for a while before everyone seemed to lose interest in the subplot; and Jaslene who, let’s face it, has got to be a drag queen. I didn’t spend time living in the West Village not to be able to recognize them, people!
Starting out this final episode is the big top three Cover Girl photo shot, with Jim de Yonker, who has apparently done nothing but ANTM photo shoots in his past, shooting the whole thing. They shake it up a little bit this time, taking each girl into a different “scenario” for her Cover Girl commercial. Natasha sticks around in the studio, boringly sitting in a boring chair, and somehow comes up with something to say about lipstick that matches 97% of skin tones. Isn’t the whole point of lipstick that it matches your, uh, lips, not your skin? But I digress.
Jaslene gets to pretend she’s on a red carpet, and finally—FINALLY—throws some Spanish and general Latina shtick into her routine. Seriously, as much as we had to hear about Brittany getting hit by a car and Natasha’s challenges of being Russian in Texas, you’d think we’d have heard at least a little “Aye Dios Mio!” along the way. But, again, I digress.
Renee gets taken out to a sailboat, with the Sydney harbor in the background, and starts off with one of my favorite quotes in ANTM history: “Nine months ago I had a baby, and I thought my life was over.” For someone who has maybe said four sentences all season without mentioning her son, that’s some truly astonishing parenting. Jay corrects her, though, and she gets along her way, waving her arms in the air and giggling a lot—a true Cover Girl. Before we get to commercial break Renee takes a moment to shown her villain stripes, noting that Natasha shouldn’t go to the final two runway challenge because “She walks like a pigeon toed duck with a piece of poop hanging out of her ass.” Oh snap! (Where’s Dionne for a reaction shot when you need her?) And don’t worry, Natasha; “pigeon-toed duck” is just American for “pretty, pretty lady.” That’s right, you just go back to gazing at yourself in the mirror now.
Panel arrives, and special guests are two fashion designers who were the first Australian designers to show at New York’s fashion week. Now, we’ve spent the last few weeks learning all about the Australian fashion scene, and we’ve taken the show’s word for it, but these women don’t exactly look like seasoned veterans; it seriously took until this recently to get an Australian designer to Bryant Park? Australian fashion scene my ass.
The panel tells Natasha that her stumbling over her ad libbed commercial is “endearing,” which, again, is letting her off the hook for flaws over which they have crucified other girls. Jaslene finally—finally!—speaks some Spanish, which Tyra dubs “genius,” which seems a bit of a stretch. Renee is complimented on her commercial but is criticized for looking old, which is one of those critiques like “too short” or “too exotic” that no one can do a damn thing about. You have a baby and look young 9 months later, Tyra! You’ll think your life is over too!
And as a complete side note, Tyra welcomes the girls to panel by telling them they’re “three baddest bitches in town,” which is a total ripoff of season five’s Bre. Maybe Bre stole her granola bars and Tyra is getting her back?
It’s a total crapshoot between the three girls in terms of actual talent, so when Jaslene is called first, it seems pretty clear that she’s gonna win the whole game; it almost seems crazy there hasn’t been a Latina this far in the competition yet, as much as Tyra wants to talk about representing all colors. Renee looks totally stunned but somehow gracious when Tyra chooses Natasha; we all knew you weren’t a real villain, Ne-Ne! Go back to your baby and your husband and pretend this was all a bad dream.
Natasha and Jaslene head to the runway show, where they will walk alongside last season’s winner Caridee (yay! Caridee!) The theme of the show is evolution, which might be hearkening back to the “controversy” shoot they had in the first episode. Or, y’know, an excuse to make the models walk around like idiots in the guise of “what real models do.” Apparently the first women on earth also wore feather headdresses—or maybe they were half-bird? Hard to say—and walked like they were on a stakeout. Whatever—it’s better than the “ghost brides” concept from last season, which is embarassingly the only way I have of recognizing Barcelona’s famous Park Güell.
As usually happens for the final runway show, the editing doesn’t really give us any clue about whether either Natasha or Jaslene did particularly well—each girl has their individual strengths, each has their weaknesses, blah blah. Jaslene adds the only worthwhile commentary, with Jaslene noting “If Natasha wins the competition, I’m-a pull off all her hair.” She later clarifies that she’s not the girl next door, but the girl down the street in your ‘hood, but she had pretty much cleared that up already.
The final two panel is typically the most boring of all—no one wants to give away the final “surprise” by lavishing too much praise—but Tyra’s looking good, which makes Miss Jay look even more ridiculous in those symbolic ruffles, so there’s plenty to look at. Natasha and Jaslene each give their final thoughts in their native languages, which is cute and also confusing—who on that panel honestly speaks Russian?—and Tyra tells them that, as immigrants or children of immigrants, they represent what America is all about. God help us all.
In the end, they go with the girl who represents the larger immigrant population, and Natasha is remarkably game about going home. She says she’s just thrilled to be getting back to her baby and her husband, and really, if that was what she wanted all along, couldn’t she have saved us all the trouble? Whatever, Russia, you’re out. Viva Jaslene, la nueva Cover Girl!