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Strike a Pose: The Top Contenders on "Top Model"

Confession time: I've become hopelessly addicted to this season (or cycle as they like to call it) of America's Next Top Model. I mean, seriously, seriously addicted, as in a run home from work to watch it sort of addiction. Call it a model dependency problem.

Fortunately, the only side effect of this dirty little habit is the tendency to argue over which girl will win (and maybe a tendency to sometimes get the twins confused). I thought that Bravo's Project Runway would have sated my need for a fashion fix, but it turns out that watching girls try to become top models (or, well, top print models, anyway) is much more fun than I had ever imagined.

So who are my favorites? That's easy. Personally, I'm hoping this competition comes down to a final showdown between Melrose and Caridee, but don't count out one of the twins making it to the final two either... anything can happen in this competition, especially after last week's episode, which had reward winner Caridee nearly booted and sent home. So, which girls are left standing in this competition and what are their chances of winning? Let's take a look.

First up has got to be Melrose, the girl that all the other ANTM girls love to hate. I can see why, when she's winning nearly every competition and prize and usually being bestowed with heaps of praise by the judges. Rightfully so, however, as Melrose rocks it in her own inimitable style; with maybe one exception, her photo shoots are always amazing, producing exceptionally beautiful shots that are heightened by her acting skills. Melrose is able to very easily tap into her emotions during a shoot whilst still managing to draw attention to the product or fulfill the brief, something that can't be said for a majority of the girls already sent home. Plus, she excels both in print and on the runway, presenting a walk and attitude that has both style and flair. It would have been a egregious error to make anyone but her the winner of last week's commercial shoot for Secret deodorant in Barcelona. Melrose was completely natural, totally at ease, and above all confident in both the way she moved and her attempts to speak Catalan. (Did anyone notice the way she interacted with everyone in the commercial, from the kids who ran behind her to the male models?) Melrose is definitely the one to beat.

I can't say enough great things about Caridee, who is definitely a contender, despite her abysmal performance in last week's Secret commercial challenge. (I was concerned that Tyra and the judges would send her packing, but it was way past time for Jaeda to pack her clothes and go.) She's stunningly beautiful and has the charisma and presence to even make it as a professional runway model after the season ends. Her silent movie was the only one that seemed to show any real acting chops and she's never afraid to look bad in order to fulfil a photo shoot brief (i.e., the elephant lady) or the judges' whims (ahem, her half-hour "hiding dizzily" routine). If Caridee has one flaw, it's her tendency to go too over the top, to make things nearly melodramatic in their intensity, and she doesn't always listen to direction, even when safety is an issue (the skydiving training sequence, for example). Still, I think that if Caridee reins in her OTT tendencies and takes each and every challenge as seriously as possible, I think she could be in a good position to make it all the way to the end.

Ah, Eugena. I was really amazed that Eugena managed to stick around for as long as she did, but in recent weeks, she's finally started to come alive a bit and finally get what the judges have been saying all along: her photos were vacant. Eugena has only now managed to inject some personality into her pics and make the judges see some semblance of emotion behind her normally vacuous expressions. Eugena's photos are entirely flat and, if you look at her portfolio, she seems capable of making only one facial expression. Still, she has shown some fire (though her commitment to the competition and life as a model is in question) but I don't think it's enough to keep her around much longer. Unless one of the others really messes up in the next two episodes, I see Eugena possibly being the next to go.

Then there's the twins. At first they really did seem interchangeable, but in recent weeks, they've managed to break through that feeling of them being identical to express themselves as individuals rather than a team of two. Seeing them outside of a photo shoot, it's difficult to even think of them as models as their posture and body language does not scream professional; additionally, they seem more painfully average than everything else. But get them in front of a camera and suddenly they look like couture models come to life out of Vogue magazine. The transformation is remarkable.

Of the two, Amanda seems to want this so much more than her sister Michelle, who seems at times indifferent to the entire process. I think that the two of them are both so very young and lacking the life skills to really model professionally. While, yes, most models are seriously young (younger than the twins, in fact), they seem more preternaturally mature than these two do and the twins often come across as awkward and shaky in uncomfortable situations (I'm thinking of the Fabio shoot, among others). If one of them was to be sent home, it would definitely be Michelle. I wouldn't count Amanda out of the running yet (her photos tend to be stunning) but I can't see her competing against Melrose and Caridee for the top prize.

Who do you think WILL take home the title of Top Model? And better yet, who do you think SHOULD walk off as the winner?

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Jericho (CBS); Madonna: The Confessions Tour, Live From London (NBC; 8-10 pm); America's Next Top Model (CW); Show Me the Money (ABC); Cheaper By the Dozen (FOX; 8-10 pm); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); One Tree Hill (CW); Day Break (ABC); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Medium (NBC); The Nine (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: America's Next Top Model.

Okay, I'll admit it: I've gotten hooked on this cycle of ANTM. On tonight's episode ("The Girl Who Sticks Her Foot in Her Mouth"), the models meet local designers in Barcelona, causing one to have a breakdown when she gets lost; a photo shoot forces the girls to face a rather angry bull. No, I don't mean Miss Jay.

8 pm: Jamie Oliver's Great Italian Escape on the Travel Channel.

Two back-to-back episodes of the Travel Channel's new series featuring Jamie Oliver, an old camper, and the Italian countryside. On "Puglia," Jamie cooks a birthday meal for the wife of his new friend Beppe... and thirty members of their family. On "Amalfi Coast," Jamie heads for the beautiful, well, Amalfi Coast.

10 pm: Top Chef on Bravo.

It's the second season of Bravo's culinary competition Top Chef. On tonight's episode, Anthony Bourdain shows up as the guest judge (I cannot effing wait); the chefs prepare a "cutting edge" Thanksgiving dinner; and Elia seems to descend into some kind of Kurtz in Heart of Darkness-like madness. Wow.


Anonymous said…
I don't really care for Melrose as a person but you can't deny that she has rocked this competition. I think that unless she really screws up, she'll take home the prize.

I like Caridee but she is a little too spazzy while, on the flip side, Eugena is too flat.

If this was "America's Next Top Print Model" I would say the twins definitely have a chance but their runway/commercial skills are seriously lacking and I would be surprised if either of them won.
Anonymous said…
If CariDee was booted last week, I may have had to stop watching. It's not cause I love her so much (ok, I do), but please. CariDee is told "you've been perfect for weeks and you take great pictures and this was your one misstep," meanwhile it's only noteworthy when Jaeda is NOT in the bottom two. If CariDee had been given the heave ho, I would have cried shenanigans. There are only so many weeks I can take of Jaeda being in the bottom 2 w/o being sent home (I still miss Brooke).

I have a lot of problems with Melrose and have a hard time rooting for her, though she is clearly deserving.

I am definitely rooting for CariDee or one of the twins (Amanda, I guess). Eugena should have been gone long ago.
Anonymous said…
I think I'm one of the few people who are really pulling for good old Melrose. I don't think she's as bad as editing has made her out to be and she really gives her all in every challenge.

My #2 is Caridee - love her, love her!! She is a nut but takes great pictures, has an awesome personality, and wants this so desperately.

If anyone other than one of these two girls win, I'll vomit.
greebs said…
The twins are neither attractive nor good models. Each of them has taken a good photo or two, but honestly I credit that both to good photographers and marginally their bone structure and hair. They are more interesting as a pair, but they simply shouldn't be there.

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