America's Next Top Model
Erin Wasson

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Life's a Ball

And then because up is down and right is left, we get a small bit of footage from these faux-rejected girls at casting week, coupled with previews of stupid shit they will do throughout the season. Brittani gets a bob and has a panic attack at judging! Jaclyn screams in a baby voice at a crude drawing of her baby-faced self! Alexandria took her faux-elimination in stride, and also is going to be a complete wanker for as long as she lasts in the competition! Tyra tells us to get ready for the biggest swerve Top Model has ever taken. Which is the thing that she already told us about. It's no J. Lo and Steven Tyler coming in to unexpectedly knock your socks off, but I guess it's the best she can do with such limited budgetary and cerebral resources.

So, we do get some highlights from casting week. It started on a rainy runway, where the Jays evaluated the girls' walks. There were big concerns about Monique, 19 years old from Hebron, Illinois, being too sexy. Well, it's nice to know which box she'll be pegged in, anyway. Tyra sees a little of Shalom Harlow in Monique. Then there's Kasia, who's a plus-sized model, or as Tyra would like to call her, "fiercely real." By all means, when looking to change long-held terminology to give it a more positive spin, choose words that have absolutely no meaning. Kasia has already proven her high-fashion chops, having been in V magazine. And whoa! Kasia is super pretty, and probably a size 8 at most, but at 26 she's fiercely really long in the tooth. With the much-discussed childhood obesity epidemic, you can't tell me that there were no fiercely real 18-year olds to choose from. Kasia is from Wheaton, Illinois. And then there's Sara, 18 from Edinburg, Texas, who fills the ugly-pretty niche. She's sort of boyish and has a curly moptop with a regrettable rattail hanging from it. Tyra is going to take scissors to that thing herself. Sara describes herself as quirky and eccentric, which I rarely find to be a good sign. However, she seems to be pretty amiable and not too cool for modeling school, so do not give up hope yet.

So the girls walked, took a photo, and met Tyra. While they thought they were maybe a third of the way through, Tyra and the Jays were actually already picking the final fourteen. They are: freckle-faced Dominique, fiercely real Kasia, petite Ondrei, feisty blonde Alexandria, sexy mama Monique, elegant Nicole, quirky Sara, hippie Hannah, golden-haired Molly, baby-faced Jaclyn, Brittani from the block, regal Dalya, edgy Mikaela, and sassy Angelia. We see the Jays approach all the girls at what they think is a reception, and hand them envelopes. Jay Manuel says that they probably think they know casting week inside and out, but this year some tough decisions have been made, and some girls aren't going to panel. The girls who have envelopes without photos, he says, will be going home. I know this whole exercise is designed to teach a lesson about rejection to the chosen girls (that lesson being, apparently, that sometimes rejection is actually acceptance!), but it seems most cruel to those poor girls who think they've gone through and are actually toast. We see said girls celebrate while the real final fourteen pout and cry and look shocked. Brittani, 19 from Beech Creek, Pennsylvania, cries and tells us that she basically has nothing to go back home for. She cain't go back to Buffalo, she just cain't. Nicole, 20 from Orlando, hates crying but does it anyway, even after Alexandria tells her that it should be no sweat off of their threaded brows. Sweet Jaclyn also tries to console Monique, to no avail.

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America's Next Top Model

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