In this episode, the 26 finalists get to spend a day in the model house and participate in their first official photo shoot before ten of them get the axe. We start to suss out who gets on whose nerves, and who does or does not have a romantic partner at home. Tooch/smooch/hooch rhymesmith Don does have a girlfriend, though he doesn't particularly act like it. With all the beautiful models in the house, he says, he doesn't want things to get "misconscrewed." I bet.
Virgg, who is transgender, tells us that she's doing hormone replacement therapy, which basically crams all of puberty into a year. It's very physically difficult, and Virgg starts questioning whether she's strong enough to make it through a season of the show. In a really lovely display, everyone is completely kind and caring and supportive of her -- even the straight dudes, which she says comes as a surprise. They all want her to push through, and several cite her as competition or say that she deserves a spot at the top.
Tyra and Rob show up to give some advice to the girls and guys, respectively. Rob's focuses on telling the dudes to keep their bodies tight, while Tyra doles out dating tips. She's wearing a '60s beach bunny wig, which is her best hair look of the two-hour premiere. What is up with those other janky wigs? Up your game, Banks! There ARE still people watching this show, believe it or not.
And then we have Chris H. He wants to make friends and influence people, and decides that the best way to go about that would be to put on boxing gloves and go on a cock-punching spree. It turns out that dudes don't really like that. Phil finds it particularly objectionable, and Chris H. becomes even more ostracized than he was before the cock-punching began. We eventually learn that his difficult past with a neglectful mother has led him to behave in the socially awkward manner that cock punching would indicate, and Nina befriends him and gives him some solid advice about how to stop annoying the piss out of people. (Step 1: No more cock punching.)
The photo shoot for the week has the models projected onto a 50-foot building as they pose in leather outfits. Fans and passersby get to cast votes for them via text, which allows the models to accost strangers on the street as a vote-getting strategy. There is a little good and a little bad, and we learn that Jourdan -- despite being cast as one of the most conventionally attractive women there and a frontrunner -- has self-confidence issues resulting from her brief marriage. The true highlight of it all, though, comes when Clea and her lisp says, "Somebody significant." It's like a little nugget of gold.
There is drama between Jourdan and Jeremy, whereby he has kind of a crush on her, and she has a boyfriend, but also likes the attention he's giving her, but is also eventually a bitch to him. Cory does not have the patience for it, and neither should we. Oh, and Marvin calls home and cries as he tells his janitor dad how much he loves and appreciates him. Emotions!
The judges deliberate, and before the final decisions are announced Virgg asks to talk to Tyra. Just as we feared, she drops out. Tyra isn't mad about it, though, saying that Virgg has to take care of herself and her health. Let's hope that she comes back with more physical strength and a new name in a season to come.
Finally, we learn which sixteen models will be competing for a spread in Nylon, a contract with Next Models, and a $100,000 national campaign with Guess. Paul Marciano, Guess CEO, shows up to give them a nod and to be in the audience for a very special runway show to come in the next episode. The final sixteen are: Alexandra, food truck Mike, Renee, Cory, Jourdan, Don, Jiana, Christopher S., Chlea, virgin Jeremy, Nina, Phil, Bianca, cock-puncher Chris H., Kanani, and Marvin. Square-jawed plumber Delten cries, because he's sad to miss the opportunity to humiliate himself further in front of the masses. Old-looking Adam is also sad. There are no girls crying, I guess because footage of whoever didn't make it to the finals was cut completely from both hours of the premiere.
And then right before we go, the models learn that they'll be participating right then in a Guess fashion show. The twist? The runway starts at the top of a giant building, which they will have to walk down like Spiderman. If Cycle 20 is the season where someone finally plummets to his/her death, I will certainly give every episode an A+ grade!
We enter hour two of the premiere with a reminder of… DUDES! And wigs. Bad, bad wigs. There is much celebrating amongst the semi-final 26, and Marvin tells us that he's wanted to be a model ever since he was a little kid. He's hoping that he'll be somebody's Rob Evans, or Marvin Cortez to somebody. I mean…isn't he Marvin Cortez to everybody? Marvin is adorable, but perhaps not the sharpest tool on Schneider's belt. Anyhoo, Bryanboy tells the 26 contestants not to get too comfortable, because ten of them will be sent packing soon. But first they get to run through the house and stake a claim on beds. Cory tells us that he wants to see what the girls have got, and that they'd better not put him in heels or he'll put their walks to shame. If he becomes the first contestant ever to appear on both Top Model and RuPaul's Drag Race (not counting Raja, who was Top Model staff), I will buy him the eyeliner of his choice.
Renee pinpoints Jourdan as her major competition, and then we get to hear a little about Phil's background. He's always struggled with money, and has been couch surfing for some time. He misses his girlfriend Zoe, who is a fashion designer, and who invested in him when he was homeless. He wants to prove to her that he was worth the investment. Phil: more serious than he first appears. Also: very happy to have the access to free food. Alexandra tells a few of the girls that she's getting her business marketing degree, and extols the virtues of hard work and empire-building. Tyra ought to like that.
Alexandra is getting on Jourdan's nerves, because she doesn't seem genuine. The pot just said to the kettle, "What's up with all that soot?" We get to hear more about how Marvin's dad is a janitor, and how Marvin doesn't want to let his dad or his brothers down. As a first step in making the family proud, he's macking on all the girls. So is Don, who says that even though he has a girlfriend the temptation of all the beautiful ladies in the house is tough. He adds, "I just don't want it get it miscon-screwed." Or DOES he. I'd say Freudian slip, but I think he's just not clear on certain basic vocabulary points.
We get a little footage of Nina dropping her hula hoop in the pool. She tells us that since she's the quirky edgy one, the blonde girls aren't her competition. Rather, her competition is Virgg, who has been killing it and is a beautiful woman. Virgg talks about her lack of modeling experience with Cory, then tells us that her sex reassignment surgery is scheduled and she just started hormone replacement therapy a month ago. What hormone replacement therapy does is cram all of puberty into one year, leading to some up and down emotions. And, I'd imagine, some crazy pimples. Cory interviews that Virgg is dealing with stuff that not everyone will understand, but deserves to go to the top because she's beautiful. Virgg cries, and tells us that she's trying to push through even though physically she feels weak. She's afraid she won't be able to deliver on the shoots, and doesn't want to let Tyra down, especially since Tyra hand picked her as part of the Instagram contest. Tyra will never have to pull an, "I have never in my life yelled at a girl like this!" maneuver with Virgg, at least. (Side note: How have I never seen this before?)