America's Next Top ModelSeason 17 • Episode 5
To say this week's feuding was all-star-worthy is true in two ways: It was loud and sassy, yes, but also calculated, and branded even. Clearly Lisa wanted to prove her worth as a timeless (if not ageless) Top Model drama queen, and picked a shouting, screaming partner in Bianca. They shot inane barbs back and forth throughout the episode, but neither came off as badly as Shannon, who managed to be nasty all by herself. ANTM is consistently a celebration of mean girls who own their characters, and no one likes snark half-cloaked by tears and false platitudes.
To introduce this week’s cruel and unusual challenge, Miss Jay dresses up like a creepy old fisherman and surprises the girls out at Santa Monica pier with a thriller of a catwalk walk-off, involving a moving (and quite fast-moving, it would seem) carousel. The inspiration for this comes from a Chanel show a few seasons back, but there’s a few key differences — that carousel was a classy high-end replica, and not actually in motion; furthermore, the clothes in that show were Karl Lagerfeld–designed. ANTM’s all-stars get looks from the Kardashian Kollection for Sears, and the lucky challenge winner gets to keep her outfit. (That's the cheapest prize the show gave in a while, in every sense of the word.)
Unfortunately, nobody falls over or even gets tangled on a plastic horse, though Miss Jay says Angelea's over-the-top antics remind him of someone’s “alcoholic aunt.” Hey, that’s a signature walk of some sort. Full of producer-fed questions masked as dubious concern, he also calls out Bianca’s challenge performance as wooden and angry. Clearly, it’s her time to bring the bitchiness — but Bianca’s not biting, or baring her claws even a little bit — yet. As much as it rankles the other girls, she's right when she rants about being the most successful model on the show, and thus with the most to lose from a repeat appearance gone sour, no matter what her new and feisty "brand" dictates. She's not alone though, with BFF Bre ready to take off her earrings and fight alongside.
It needs to be said that, even with the best intentions in mind, this week’s photo shoot was in rather bad taste: Each model must imitate an iconic Michael Jackson look, with outfits put together by his longtime stylist, Rushka Bergman. M.J.’s sister La Toya shows up, presumably to give guidance, but considering her perennially dazed demeanor, she may have just wandered on set looking for a cat to pet and decided to hang out because everything looked fun and shiny. The girls all pose with toes pointed and crotches thrusted, many apparently believing the way the shoot made them feel was as if they'd channeled Michael's very essence of being.
La Toya's airy-fairy attitude goes a long way towards dampening any fun snark at panel too. André Leon Talley is really the only judge to bring any criticism at all — he wasn’t feeling high-fashion energy from, of all places, the toes as posed in a few shots. And he clearly finds Lisa crass and crazy in all the wrong ways: He hated her “fifties housewife got high off the fumes from her cleaning products” attire (she should have looked at the woman in the mirror before leaving the model mansion, for sure), doesn’t vibe with her attitude, and found her picture in such poor taste that he almost choked. You'd think all this negativity would ensure her ousting this week, but no. The judges left the callout order entirely up to La Toya as a further tribute to Michael by proxy, and because she was clearly unable to remember any of the girls' names, she decides not to eliminate anyone at all. (Although Lisa and poor, tearful, wanting-this-competition-too-much Angelea were in the bottom two.) Michael would have apparently been proud of the love they all gave; they rocked his world even, so there — good thing he didn't see the footage of all the fighting back at the house then.