America’s Next Top Model 2, Episode 5: Ethnicity Adversityby Phil Kural -- 02/11/2004
As you probably remember, last week on America’s Next Top Model, Shandi struggled with her model persona, but still won the reward challenge after being told to “find herself.” Camille sparked tensions with some of the other girls in the house, but what else is new. Mercedes struggled with her illness and at a very tense elimination ceremony, queen of the one liners, Jenascia, was eliminated from the competition. (And you can read my interview with Jenascia here, if you haven’t already.) If you think all the drama unfolded last week, just wait and see what’s in store this time!
Catie starts us out this week, reminiscing how she was almost eliminated. She’s relieved that she didn’t have to go home, but disappointed in herself because she is slipping in the rankings. However, from this point on, she is going to give it her all. I hope she really means that. Camille is telling some of the other girls that because she is black, she has to try harder than some of the other girls. Oh geeze, here comes the race card. April is feeling as an underdog herself. Tyra herself told April that since she is ethnic, and Asian at that, she will have a tough time in the modeling industry. April is half Japanese and half Caucasian, but she has never identified herself as Japanese. She doesn’t intend to start right now. Camille tells April that being the only Asian one will give her an edge. Wait a second, since April is the only Asian, she has an edge, but since Camille is one of two African-American women, she doesn’t? I don’t get it.
Sara is showing Mercedes a bracelet that she has. Apparently, like Sara, the bracelet is Persian. She tells the camera that her father is very strict and being a model is not exactly the best thing he wants to hear. She says that to him, being a model is like being a whore. Wow, then he has issues! Mercedes is having issues herself as well. She talks more about her lupus and how she has to hide it from the other girls. Not only that, but she takes her pills quickly so they don’t see. She doesn’t want to be judged because she is sick. Oh, so anyway, Tyra comes over and plays some jump rope with the girls. Well, that’s not really why she came; she tells the girls that she is proud of all of them, and from this point on, it’s going to get a lot harder. But first, some one-on-one time with each of the girls!
Xiomara is first and Tyra tells her that she loves the fact that she is a tough woman. However, she has been softening up lately, and needs to go back to the tough girl that she really is. Xiomara agrees. Catie tells Tyra she doesn’t want to be looked at as a “Plain Jane,” and that’s all we get from her. Yoanna talks about how she misses her mom but that she is handling the pressure as a champ. I have to agree. Camille says she is sick of being labeled a diva and has never been called that in her life. Tyra tells Camille that she has to learn to be more humble and actually let some humility shine through. I couldn’t agree more.
April goes into a spiel about how she wants to be a source of inspiration and Tyra buys it. I certainly don’t. However, I do respect the fact that April says she will not pretend that she has always embraced her Asian roots when she hasn’t. Sara tells Tyra she isn’t sure how her dad is going to take all this, and he doesn’t even know where she is right now. Thank God for Tyra, she tells Sara that talking to him would be the best thing. I love the fact that he doesn’t know where she is, and hasn’t called the police yet. He can’t be that worried, apparently.
Shandi feels like she has grown in the past few weeks, more than she has over many years. It’s easy to see that Tyra adores her. Before Mercedes even talks, Tyra says that it looks like she has had some kind of attitude on the last shoot, and that she wouldn’t be eliminated because she was tired, but because of the attitude. Mercedes tells the camera she is falling apart and is stressing out. It’s killing her that she has to hide her illness. I love you, Mercedes!
The next day, the girls meet Sam Christensen, who is supposed to help them find and embrace the charisma that’s inside them. My eyes are rolling a mile a minute. Each girl fills out a paper with adjectives on it, to describe another girl. The girls read them out loud and are happy with what they hear. Well, except for Camille. All of hers are really bad, and it’s so funny to watch her read them with such a snotty attitude. When asked if anyone feels attacked, Camille raises her hand. Sam says that part of taking criticism is in the charisma. Camille says she doesn’t care either way because as usual, she tells us she isn’t there to make friends. But if she doesn’t care, why did she feel attacked?
Now the girls have to tell a story starting with “The person who I love most is….” Well, according to Mercedes, it’s her mom. No matter what she does, she knows her mom will always love her. I feel the same way about my mom, and you don’t even want to know half of the crap I’ve gotten myself into over the years. Shandi has always been a black sheep and the one person she loves most is her boyfriend, Eric, because he has always supported and loved her. Xiomara tells the camera how much she loves Sara as a friend. The next question starts “The worst thing I’ve ever done was…” and Sara says it’s not being honest with her father about wanting to be a model. April and Catie both feel for Sara because of her dad. Sam says that Sara is emitting charisma by coming into her own. This guy officially makes no sense, and reminds me of Stuart Smalley.
Back at the house, Mercedes is feeling sick again, and lying down. She says that she is going to push herself and stay in the competition until the end. Shandi is still rambling about how she always used to dress like a boy and her mom would yell at her. She’s happy to be out on her own. Hurray, J. Alexander stops by the house for dinner! Mercedes reintroduces us to J. calling him the “Runway Diva.” Oh, I agree, he’s too funny. J. Alexander’s friend, Suzannah Galland shows up. Suzannah is a psychic and is there to read the girls. Mercedes goes first and Suzannah points out there her body is weak but her mind isn’t. She knows that something is burdening her, but Mercedes says nothing. She finds it odd that Suzannah hit the nail on the head. Camille is next and within seconds, the psychic tells Camille that she rubs people the wrong way. Sara asks about her dad and is told that he will love her anyway, no matter what she does. April is told that she’s determined, and regardless of the show, she will be a top model someday. Hmm, foreshadowing? Suzannah tells Xiomara that it’s easy to be her friend, but some friends don’t last that long. Not because she is a bad person, just in general. Shandi is told she has a vindictive family and needs to be hugged more. She needs a sense of family. Shandi agrees and starts to tear up and cry. Sara says her heart goes out to Shandi because of her family and how mean they are. My favorite quote is right here too. J. Alexander says to Shandi, “Give Mamma some sugar!” as he goes over to hug her. Xiomara says Shandi is her best friend in the house and she loves her to death.
At the house once again Catie is telling April that she is going to go far in the competition. April recalls that when she told all her friends she wanted to be on this show, they all told her she would be the “token Asian.” Just then, Sam shows up again and tells the girls they will be interviewed by a special guest, and must show their charisma. The winner will get a shopping spree. Basically, the interview is based on each girl being themselves.
Xiomara is fist again, and walks in the interview room to find Janice Dickinson. I can already tell this is going to be fun. She asks Xiomara what the craziest place she ever had sex was and Xiomara tells her a broom closet. For Camille, it was a Ferris wheel. When Catie is asked, she says she’s a virgin. Janice has this priceless look on her face.
Camille is asked if she could eliminate one contestant right now, who would it be? As she thinks, we cut to Sara, April, and Yoanna, all saying Camille, with Yoanna adding on “Because she’s a witch!” I forgot, Yoanna is perfect… give me a break. Camille says something along the lines of, “Everyone may call you (Janice) a bitch, but I don’t care.” Janice gives this look that basically says, “you blew it.”
Sara says she should win because she has an opinion and is one of those “I am woman, hear me roar” types. Janice is impressed and thinks that Sara has personality. Yeah, and it finally showed in the fifth episode! Where was she prior to that? April says she doesn’t have identity issues, to which Janice tells the camera that April is confused about who she is.
When asked what she is scared might come out if she won, Shandi says it’s the drugs. She was once arrested for robbery and had to go on probation. She was acting stupid and was on drugs, but overcame it. It’s in the past now, and she has moved on. Janice admires her honesty.
Mercedes is scared to do the interview and when Janice notes Mercedes’ sudden lack in energy, she spills it about her illness and explains what lupus is. However, she is trying to fight through it and will always give it her all. Janice likes the fact that Mercedes is willing to share her secret.
All the girls come in and Janice tells them that she is happy and likes the fact they were honest and talked about their flaws. April is told that she needs to embrace her ethnicity more because she is unique. She likes Sara because she has that whole “womanly stance.” Shandi admitting to her record is a plus, and shows she can be honest, but the winner of the competition is Mercedes. Janice praises Mercedes for coming clean about her lupus, basically letting it out to the other girls as well. Sara says she would have never guessed that Mercedes is sick. Janice tells Mercedes she can take one person on the spree with her, and she chooses Sara. Mercedes says that since the girls know now, she hopes they don’t discriminate against her because of it. Then, it’s time for some shopping. The girls have a blast and can’t decide what to get. When they get back to the loft, Yoanna tells Mercedes how proud of her she is for telling the other girls about her illness. She didn’t, Yoanna, Janice told you. Thank her, not Mercedes.
Tyra mail the next day tells the girls that their next shoot will be either sink or swim. When they get to the shoot, Jay Manuel tells them that the shoot will have a fish theme and will be an advertisement for “Quench Water.” Okay, I’ve never heard of it, but it can’t be worse than Dasani water, which I swear has things floating in it. Basically, the girls will be in a big fish tank and have to stay underwater for their photos – it looks harder than it sounds. There will be small fish in the tank too, and the water doesn’t look all that clean. George Holtz will be their photographer for the shoot. He has shot Tyra in the past, and also last season’s winner, Adrianne. Some guy named Nole will be the stylist for the shoot, and he has his dog with him. Okay, this episode is just getting weirder every second.
Sara says this shoot is important for her – she wants to show some emotion. George, the photographer, tells her to stay in the middle, stay down as long as she can, and not to make bubbles. Talk about rules! This looks really tough, actually. Sara does what she has to and Jay says she is great. He tells the other girls that Sara was better in the water than she is on land.
Catie is told not to be a puffer fish by Nole, but her body is twisting every which way. Yoanna looks like she is having fun, and the people doing the shoot don’t say anything about her. Camille says her family is from the Caribbean, and she is just going to act like she is in the ocean. She has issues in the tank and Jay says he isn’t impressed, saying she looks like she is doing “drag queen vogue” in the tank. I’m not exactly sure what that is, but I laugh.
Xiomara is nervous about going under because she usually holds her nose underwater. She also has issues with opening her eyes. She isn’t having fun and Nole calls her a walrus! April does an amazing job and everyone is impressed with her. Shandi is upset and has issues with the water too. She’s scared and it shows. Mercedes is feeling really good, gets in the tank and does her thing. Everyone gives her props, and she deserves them. And with that, the shoot is over!
Since she won the reward challenge earlier, Mercedes, along with Sara, with each get a special gift, and as the elevator doors open, out pops both of their moms! Both of the girls are extremely happy as they go running over to greet their mothers. April sees these two blonde-haired, white moms and has no idea where Mercedes and Sara came from. It’s actually quite funny because she’s right. Then Tyra pops in with her mom too. Tyra’s mom sits down with everyone and tells the tale of how Tyra got into modeling. Then she goes on to tell them that they have to stay out of trouble and keep a strong connection with those that will love them if they win or lose. Tyra takes this moment to plug her summer camp, which teaches girls how to love themselves. She must have low enrollment and needed the publicity. With that, Tyra and her mom leave the loft so the girls can spend time with their moms.
Sara asks her mom how she thinks her dad will feel about all this. Her mom isn’t sure but tells Sara that he will love her either way. She has earned this and everyone in the family respects her. Shandi is sad because her mom is not like Sara’s and Mercedes’ and really doesn’t know her that well. Mercedes is talking to her mom about her lupus and starts to cry. Her mom is right there to hug her though and tells her to stay strong. After that, they are on their way as well. The teary moments end her, prepare for eliminations!
At the elimination ceremony, Tyra reminds them of the prizes they will win and the judges that will decided who is eliminated. This week’s special judge is Nole, the bitter stylist from the photo shoot, and his stupid dog is there too. This is just dumb. Before the judges look at their shots, though, the girls will have to do a 60-second demonstration on a new brand of makeup, ANTM, which they will be trying to sell to the judges.
Sara goes first and does fine in the beginning, but stumbles in the end. Janice notes that, and when her picture is shown, Janice says it’s a bit too “biceppy.” Um, I love you Janice. April goes next and is stoic in her presentation. The judges say it was like an infomercial. They love her shot this week though and say it doesn’t even look like she is underwater, which is very hard to do.
Xiomara messes up her presentation and they call her scatterbrained. They also tell her that her shot this week was horrible, and sad to say, it was. Eyes closed, limbs all over the place – it just wasn’t working for her this week. Shandi is nervous about her presentation and the judges notice and tell her it lacked confidence. They aren’t too fond of her shot either, with Nole stating that he hated it.
Catie does a good presentation and the judges like her picture this week too, especially the pose. Mercedes does great with her makeup sell and has all the judges smiling. They are torn on her photo though, with some liking it, and some not. Yoanna messes up big time with her presentation and Janice calls her shot the worst ever. Tyra says it looks like an adult ultrasound, and she’s right! Yoanna is in the fetal position, all curled in a ball!
Camille starts her presentation out with “Hi, I’m Camille, America’s Next Top Model” and says it like three more times. The judges aren’t having it and even when her time is up, she tries to keep going. They insist that she is done and then tell her that she is too arrogant. They look at her photo and tell her to have the eloquence that she has on film shine through in person. And with that, it’s time to deliberate.
They all feel that Sara is coming into her own, and I totally agree. I’m glad we got to see more of her this week because now I can actually say more about her than just thinking she is ghetto. April looks incredible in her picture, but they fail her on her presentation. Xiomara is looking heavy in the jaw, but some judges are still pulling for her, she has energy. Shandi has potential and Mercedes has charisma, even though her photo was dry this week. Yoanna had a bad photo this week too, and they don’t like Catie’s face in hers and she has to look more edgy. Camille is called a know-it-all, and they feel that this competition might not be for her. Janice wants her gone.
The girls re-enter the elimination room. Tyra tells them that she has seven photos and the one girl that doesn’t get her photo back will be eliminated. Sara is called up first. Then Mercedes and April, who is told she needs to let loose more. Yoanna is next and then Catie. Shandi is up next and Tyra tells her that she is making an amazing transformation. However, her photo this week was the best of the worst.
Camille and Xiomara, the last two girls, step up. The one name called will continue on. Camille has a problem with people telling her what to do, and that’s not good. Xiomara has personality, but she loses it when she gets to the photo shoot. Camille is called and Xiomara is eliminated. She hugs the other girls as she sheds some tears and heads back to the loft to pack her stuff. Of course, she didn’t want to go yet, and reminds the other girls not to be something they aren’t.
Next week, the girls are going to be doing some boy kissing, and they couldn’t be happier. Some of the girls are going to shed some tears, while Camille misses her cue completely. That’s incentive for me to watch! I have to admit, I’m going to miss Xiomara. She was one of my favorites. As it stands, I’m now pulling for Mercedes to win, followed by Shandi. I don’t know how I feel about April or Sara and I couldn’t care less about Camille or Catie. Both of them have issues. Well, you know where to find next week’s recap, and don’t be shy about sending me an email on why you love Camille, I’m dying to know! Until next week!
Phil Kural is a senior at Temple University, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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