Welp, I’m back on my bullshit, which I never stray too far away from. This recap was suggested by a reader in the comment section of the last one who fondly recalled the low simmer of bitterness that perpetually bubbles within me like the Olympic flame over my girl Allison Harvard never being crowned America’s Next Top Model.
Full disclosure: Allison and I used to party together in the Lower East Side back in, like, 2012. But, if you’ve read my book, you already know that.
Allison’s cycle of All-Stars had premiered the year before, so it took every fiber of my being not to repeatedly shout “YOU WERE ROBBED” into Allison’s ear when we were crammed into a sticky booth next to each other at a party our friends, Mike and Maryanne, were hosting at Hotel Chantelle. Even before All-Stars, I had been a fan from the moment she made her ANTM debut on Cycle 12, when she marched into her audition and told Tyra and the other judges that she was into blood. (Tyra: “I used to get [nosebleeds] all the time as a child.” Allison: “Jealous.” Tyra: [stares in horror.]) A character! And you know I love a character: I have Phyllis Diller and Elvira tattoos. I was Log Lady from Twin Peaks for Halloween last year. So, of course, when a magical creature with gloriously large eyes who looks like she spends a fair amount of time editing the Wikipedia entry for cicadas decides a good first impression includes mentioning her propensity for hemophilia, it’s love at first sight.
While her cycle of All-Stars is a treasure trove of unforgettable moments—that we will be revisiting at some point down the line—I decided to throw it back even further to Cycle 12, and ended up picking an episode with one of my favorite photoshoots from the series.
The girls—now the top four—are in Brazil, where someone will eventually be crowned the winner (Teyona). Listen, I’m not mad about Teyona winning. Look at her!
But before she’s crowned, she must compete alongside Celia, Aminat, and Allison—all formidable opponents.
The next day, the girls arrive at a dance hall to discover that they will be learning to Samba. No volcano, except that might have gone smoother than…this:
The only one who does fairly well is Aminat, who employs the tactic of fake-it-til-you-make-it and succeeds.
Back at their hotel, all the girls except Aminat are in disarray because their challenge that week is to involve the Samba. And they can’t afford to coast at mediocrity—next week there will only be three! Panic brews.
With tensions on the rise, Allison seeks solace by doing whatever it is she is doing here:
The next day, the girls meet their guest judge, legendary supermodel Paulina Porizkova, and a professional Samba dancer, on top of a random building where they will compete for the prize of a bunch of overpriced jewelry that the winner has to pretend is pretty. In an unlikely twist, Celia wins, probably because she prepared for the challenge solely by writing the word “Relax” on her wrist.
As the winner, Celia is allowed to take one friend, who will also be gifted jewelry worth around $7,000, and she chooses her in-house bestie, Allison. Paulina is like, “Don’t you want to take the runner-up instead?” The runner-up being Aminat, but Celia stands by her decision and Paulina makes everyone uncomfortable by being visibly disappointed. Except me, because I live for that shit!
The next day, the girls are off to some undisclosed location for their photoshoot, two hours outside the city. They’re driving along an unpaved road in the forest when they come upon what looks like a car wreck on the side of the road.
That does not look good! As the girls approach the wreckage, who pops out of nowhere?
This may look staged, but don’t be fooled. What wasn’t caught on camera was Tyra and the producers actually running some poor, unsuspecting couple on their honeymoon off the road. For legal reasons, that is a joke.
Anyway, Tyra is like, “Surprise! I’m your photographer today!” Literally the definition of “This could have been an email.” But, of course, this wouldn’t be the Top Model we know and love without mildly traumatizing its contestants.
It’s time to finish hair and make-up with Tyra hovering, making minor suggestions for make-up and style choices in between one-on-one pep talks with the models.
I forgot to turn on closed captioning, but I think Tyra is telling Aminat here that the vaccine she got for Hepatitis A before they all flew down to Brazil was just flat diet Sprite. Infection or not, you better work!
The girls are then led one by one to set, which is literally a loud and slippery creek in the middle of a rainforest. The looks are meant to be a fashion interpretation of baby birds leaving their nest, which I guess is a metaphor for the remaining time they have left in the competition. Except one wrong step and they’ll bust their head open on a rock. But we devote ourselves to allegory in this house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Because they're only four girls left—the strongest of the dozen or so that they started out with—judging is short and sweet, with Allison winning best photo because of course she did. Someone fact-check me, but I believe it’s Allison who holds the record for most best photos in a row? Or was that Ann from Cycle 15? (SOMEONE REQUEST A RECAP FROM THAT CYCLE IN THE COMMENTS.)
Celia is sent home for being twenty-five—an actual corpse! What business does she have running around with eighteen-year-olds???? The judges were not having it!
In the end, it’s Teyona against Allison, which, thank god, because if Allison wasn’t at least a finalist, I would be flipping a table every single year on the anniversary of her getting eliminated any sooner. If Allison was going to lose to anyone, I’m glad it was Teyona.
Now, All-Stars is another story, which we will definitely be discussing in the not-too-distant future. Or it can be the next recap; I leave the choice in your hands, dear reader. Just sound off in the comments, below.
In the meantime, let me finally take down my Christmas tree.