America’s Next Top Model: All-Stars 17.07 “Kathy Griffin” Review

Pop quiz, class. Pencils up, only one question.

I made it multiple choice because, y’know, I care and stuff.

The America’s Next Top Model fragrance, which is set to launch at the end of cycle 17, will smell like ___________________.
a. Booty tooch sweat, Nicole from cycle five‘s lost Red Bull, and the pee that Robin let out in cycle one during the snake photo shoot.
b. An empty bottle of Mr. Jay’s hair dye that’s been sitting in the garbage for weeks, the remnants of a drain in Andre’s salon that hasn’t been cleaned in a while, and the tears of wayward models from sea to shining sea.
c. The crushed dreams of stardom from everybody associated with Shedding for the Wedding, Fly Girls, H8R, Blonde Charity Mafia, High Society, Farmer Wants a Wife, Plain Jane, and Stylista.
d. Girlicious.

I’ll give you a second to think.

Pencils down.

The correct answer is…

Wait, Top Model has a fragrance?!

Yes, kids, America’s Next Top Model, your favorite cartoon-y competition reality series that is approaching its 18th birthday (wonder who it’ll vote for), has a new fragrance coming out soon, which is one of the major bombshells dropped on the Halloween edition of America’s Next Top Model: All-Stars. I say Halloween edition because it was like bizarro Top Model, in that the contestants were openly calling out how ridiculous this was, the photo shoot involved more costume-y gimmickry, and the guest judge was my favorite snarker Kathy Griffin. Like…what? I kept waiting for the faux lightning, the random extra walking by in an Elvis costume, something to let me know that this was all a set-up, but alas, this wasn’t hid behind any smokescreen of one-off buffoonery.

This was regular, grade-A Top Model buffoonery. Prime choice cuts all day, ready to serve.

An example of how strange “Kathy Griffin” was as an episode lies in the fact that I found myself agreeing with Bianca throughout the entire hour. I’ve been over her brand of delusion this entire season, as it doesn’t possess any of the humor that Jade’s self-importance did, but I think she’s been over this competition, too, as she was openly defiant tonight. The fact that she recognizes how this cycle is absolutely nothing about the real world of modeling was strangely welcome, as too often it feels like the contestants are drinking from the Kool Aid that Tyra used to dye her hair with in cycle 4 and to have someone with experience coming in and being like “uh…” made for good TV for this longtime ANTM POW watcher. I understand the argument that she knew what type of show she was signing onto, which makes her whole stand carry less weight, but she’s not the only contestant this season to express disappointment at how misled they were going in.

I didn’t even like her picture and I wanted Bianca to stay, if only to rattle the show’s cage a little more. There’s no way any established model would get in a bathtub to hock anything (maybe for a jabillion dollars and a cut from profits of said product), especially if she knows she has better opportunities elsewhere. You teach people (and employers) how to treat you and I respect Bianca for standing up for herself and not letting Tyra break her.

Hell, I even agreed with Alexandria’s confusion over the judge’s conflicting comments to her (one week chiding her for looking like a reality show contestant and the next week’s theme being reality stars), and that never happens.

It’s understandable that the girls were a little on edge because, well, how couldn’t you be with the type of photo shoot they were given this week? The remaining nine contestants had to dress like (and embody the spirit of…spooky) Nene Leakes from The Real Housewives of Atlanta or Snooki from Jersey Shore, so there were short haircuts, poofs, and pickles galore, though the motorcycle was really a nice touch. And by nice touch, I mean the shoot made zero sense both creatively and conceptually. I get the argument about pushing them out of their comfort zone, but there are other ways to do that that retain a shred of fashion integrity and understanding of how to sell a freakin’ garment. (Just like no self-respecting established model would do the bathtub salesman bit, no self-respecting established model would do a shoot where they emulated Nene and Snooki.) Being able to “push through the pretty” and come up with a dynamic, powerful photo is one thing, but Wednesday’s photo shoot was a little too much camp/stupidity and lacked any sort of relevance aside from “hey, I know who those two people are!”. The styling was tacky (not much moreso than usual), the lighting/angles did nobody any favors, and there were maybe two or three decent photos out of the bunch.

(From my notes: THERE IS NOTHING HIGH FASHION ABOUT SNOOKI OR NENE. STOP IT.)

Also, it gave me my most infuriating moment of the night, when Mr. Jay criticized Bianca’s use of a pickle for being too phallic when five episodes ago they took pictures eating a footlong hotdog.

I felt like I was taking crazy pills when he said that, you guys. I think I’m the only one paying attention to this cycle because the judges are apparently cutting bait and we’re just at the halfway point.

“Kathy Griffin” could have been a breezy, fun episode where the girls got a lighter look at what it means to brand themselves. Instead, it was characterized by the leaps in logic that have plagued the All-Star season, where the double elimination knocked out two girls with a lot of potential (Bianca and Kayla) in favor of other girls with lesser books who lack the personality to compete. The most commercially successful contestants the show has had in America (i.e. the Evas, the Yayas) may be concentrated in TV/media, but they could both model their faces off and I’m not terribly blown away by any of the remaining girls (sans Allison). The challenge was another instance of the show choosing to almost openly mock its contestants instead of giving them a good honest lesson in how to properly sell themselves, while the photo shoot reverted to the laziness that the show almost entirely subverted last cycle and chucked any chance of being interesting out the window with its lack of anything remotely fashion-related. We’re close to going international (here’s the destination if you’re curious), but I’m afraid Top Model has taken the Halloween season to heart and went a little loony.

Thoughts, Quotes, & Observations:

  • “You could be portrayed as a snob and never win.”
  • “If I had to do the perfume challenge again, I wouldn’t change anything except my shoes.”
  • “Sorry, Alley Cat, I have to be mean to you, too.”
  • “Ooh, she just called me Tyra. Heyyyyy.”
  • “You’ve been Snookified.”
  • “A scintilla, a nuance of Nene….”
  • I had to laugh at Angelea’s fragrance being named, what else, Angelea.
  • The lack of Kathy Griffin was disappointing. Obviously she’s not going to critique a photo with the technicality of a Coco Rocha or a Franca Sozzani, but let the woman have a few good cracks and give her a chance to impart some “branding” knowledge on the ladies.
  • For the record, Lisa and Dominique were the only photos I’d qualify as being good. Allison’s was cute but very flawed (no neck, weird hand position), while the rest ranged from no energy (Bianca) to goofy (Laura, Alexandria) to missing the mark completely (Shannon).
  • Why are only some of these girls bringing up their brands? I know the entire season as a whole is (supposedly) about personal branding, but they’re sticking to using words from the (awful) second episode and I’m unsure why. Especially since the words they were given were incredibly arbitrary.
  • You guys, I’m sad at how gross Eva looked during her brief cameo. She was so cute when she won and I love how successful she’s been, but her look was so harsh and it made her appear 20 years older than she actually is.
  • Kayla’s hair was gorg all night tonight. I honestly hope she keeps this cut/color for as long as possible.
  • If everybody else was in the water and Bianca decided to sit out, isn’t that a way to stand out from the crowd, Nigel? Or is she supposed to stand out while doing the same thing that everybody else was doing?
  • I wish Mr. Jay would have been in the dressing room with the girls to annihilate them over not getting the Snooki/Nene references. I mean, c’mon, ladies.
  • I kind of thought people were honking/screaming at Kayla because she was giving us hooker chic. Did you?
  • Next week: The girls are asked to create a song about their lives and subsequently make a music video directed by rapper Game. For those yearning for Top Model music (and really, aren’t we all?), here’s a hint at Lisa’s pot ledom (sigh) realness.

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