FINALE RECAP: And America’s Next Top Model Is…

This is a little awkward. Did you guys watch last night? Did you see it? Did you want that hour of your life back? The finale was about as exciting as my cat sleeping on the heating vent, but with less personality. I caught myself getting distracted by the dust under my radiator, and at one point I pounded two liters of Coke just to get the energy in the room up. Helped for about fifteen minutes, until Chelsey told us again how badly she wants it, and Ann told us again how surprised she is to be there. Well, Ann, that makes two of us. As Tyra would say: “So. Who stays, and who goes? Blink blink.”

The models are in Lake-a Town-a, Italy for the final challenge. They must shoot a romantic, pastoral spread for Vogue Italia, act in a Cover Girl mascara commercial, shoot a beauty ad, and walk in a Just Cavalli fashion show. Sounds interesting, right? It isn’t. I think Ann put it best when she said, “I think it’d be really weird to see myself on the cover of Italain Vogue, because you know, it’s me.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

For the first shoot they lay in the grass in floral, spring clothing and man oh man, the photographer loves both of them. I’m wondering to what standard he’s holding Ann and Chelsey. Is he comparing them to people off the street, or actual models? TBD. The next stop on the Awkward Train is the Cover Girl commercial. Ann and Chelsey mime a few scenes, because this year… it’s different. They’re going to do voice-overs later, like real models, Tyra tells us. Ann and Chelsey are stiff, stroppy, and self-conscious. Chelsey has a permanent surprised, open-mouth, wide-eyes look on her face that makes me think she’s going to grab my cheek at any moment and shove it against hers and take a self-portrait. We could only be so lucky with Ann. Ann looks like she’s about 14 and just finished reading Our Bodies, Ourselves; she’s terrified, confused, sweaty, pimply, and wishing herself dead. Or maybe that’s how I feel watching Ann. TBD.

In the “commercial” they eat gelato, fix their make-up at the table, and generally suck. Then there’s the voice-over. It’s worse. Ben Stein would’ve been a better choice. The most interesting part of the voice-over scene is Ann’s hip bones. Did you see those puppies jutting out? I was concerned a bird would land there and make a nest.

Then, in a twist that reminded me of the last day of basketball camp when your parents come to watch the final game and you wish they hadn’t, Tyra brings in the families. Ann’s parents and brother, and Chelsey’s parents show up to bring the uncomfortableness to a whole new level. OK, ok, it’s sweet, but it just serves to highlight the amateurish nature of the show, right?

There’s the up-close beauty shoot and then the models have a short go-see with an IMG exec. He must have been thrilled with the prospects. Not! I’m sure he sees better models walking down 7th Avenue. I know I do.

And then it’s time for the fashion show. The moment we’ve all been dreading. The time when ANTM sets up a runway, hires innocuous fashion models, promotes a designer, and plays house. There is nothing authentic or remotely real about the show — it’s a Truman experience for the final two and for those tuning in. Kayla, Jane, Chris and Liz are brought back to walk, and so is Cycle 14 winner, Krista.

The show is for Roberto Cavalli’s line, Just Cavalli. Chelsey walks, Ann limps down the runway. Chelsey actually looked good up there, and so did Jane and Kayla. Actually, Jane and Kayla looked really good. Ann looked like she twisted her ankle and walked like Ramona Singer: eyes bulging, shoulders back, soul afire. It was a mess.

At panel, Roberto Cavalli himself was a guest judge. And thank god. He brought us back down to earth. At one point he said he was scared. He could’ve been talking about Andre Leon Talley’s Christmas Tree skirt of a jacket, or the models. TBD.

Let’s start with Chelsey. Nigel thinks she’s a natural smiler but stiff and a tad fast on the runway. Tyra agrees, and adds that Chelsey looks lost when she reaches the end. The judges love her Cover Girl beauty shoot, and think her eyes have a lot of power. Cavalli basically says she looks boring (see what I mean? He’s telling it like it is.) Chelsey is the all-American model, blonde, freckled, and corn-fed. To me she’s uninteresting and unoriginal. At most I can see her in an ensemble ad for the Gap or Tommy Hilfiger.

Ann gets similar mixed reviews. Leon says she has no “snap, crackle, and pop” — then goes on to say she’s “cultish, exotic, and the new-sexy.” She looks tight and rigid in her beauty shoot, and in my opinion, the judges are waaaaaay too easy on her runway performance. It seems like they don’t want to hurt her feelings. People! She did terribly! I don’t care if it’s an improvement, she still sucked. They conclude that Ann is couture and embodies European high-fashion. If they say so. She takes stunning photos, yes, but ANTM spends a lot of effort explaining to me that modeling is more than just a great picture. So why don’t they hold Ann to this? Gah! Come on.

The verdict? Ann wins, and then she disappears. She hugs Tyra, and then poof! she’s relegated to obscurity and the basement of IMG. This is my prediction. We’ll have to check to see if Ann proves me wrong, or if she’s working in a library six months from now in Des Moines.

Now where’s my Swiffer, I see some dust that needs to be addressed.

Lindsay Mannering is a graduate of Boston College with a BA in English Literature and a Concentration in Creative Writing. She’s been thinking about applying for an MFA but is holding out for that engraved invitation.

During the week she spends her hours as an Account Executive in the luxury goods market and is pleased to pair her Payless flats with twenty-thousand dollar chains.

Her interests include college basketball, skinny-skiing and bull fights on acid.

You can follow her on Twitter here.

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