It feels like just yesterday that Ann Ward took home the 15th tiara for being the most high fashion, awkwardly tall, wizard-loving model in Tyra's States of America. But alas, here we are at the start of Cycle 16 and so much has changed! No, really. A lot as changed.
First off, there is no casting episode! We don't get to see the 19-year-olds shrieking when they first see Tyra's mug behind the judges' panel. We don't get to hear the racist slurs between the Kansas blondes and the Bronx-bred divas. We don't even get to hear statements like, "I love bloody eyeballs" or "Semen scares the bejeezus out of me." So what do we get to see?! Tyra dressing up as all those wannabes and as... Ashton Kutcher, trucker hat and all, as she punks 14 girls.
This is how it went down: Tyra decides that the dramatic ANTM "rose ceremony" of the past 15 cycles was just not fierce enough for cycle 16. So let's crush the girls double by telling them all they're rejected, just at separate times. Huh? See, Mr. and Miss J told the 25 or so girls that inside the envelopes they were holding with their names on them they would either find a photo of themselves or a blank piece of paper. The ones with the photos inside had made it into the Wonderful World of Modeling (no, just Top Modeling), and the others would have to get right back on that plane back to Idaho. But what the models didn't know, among many other things, like how to smize and walk a runway inside of a bubble (more on that later), was that the ones with the blank sheets of paper inside their envelopes were really the winners today! They were the ones that would get to stay! Yes, you read that right. Now, you're probably wondering, What about the ones with the amateur headshots inside their envelopes? They will be going home. So now Tyra has put every model hopeful through a roller coaster of emotions for no reason. Wait... Why couldn't we just watch casting?
So the models screamed and cried and fell to the floor, and Tyra announced that since it's Cycle 16, all the photos in the house are of her when she was 16. Natch. But there's one obvious catch: there aren't enough beds. Someone is going home. Dun-dun-dun.
When the girls arrive at the challenge location, they are met by supermodel and jewelry designer, Erin Wasson. They are told they'll be wearing T. by Alexander Wang at the runway show that will take place on a 12-inch wide runway that is in a pool. Oh, and they'll be walking inside giant hamster plastic bubbles. But first they will be shot backstage by famed photog Russell James. The goal is to catch them looking beautiful while they're in the process of getting beautiful. It's this whole art-imitating-life concept Tyra's been working with for the past 15 cycles, ya know?
Fast-forward to the Bubble Girls clawing their way out of the pool. Ondrei (pronounced Andre, as in Andre Leon Talley) is the first to fall. Miss J yells, "Be fabulous!" as a helpful hint as to how to get out of the pool. (We'll remember that next time we find ourselves in a plastic bubble in Alexander Wang threads in a pool in Malibu.) She gets up rather quickly and scurries off backstage. The next to fall is freckled beauty Dominique, who has a tougher time getting out of the pool in her hamster ball, but shows personality while doing so, and is thus the better woman here. Brittani is named the best walker and probably thought back to her hamster friends she cherished growing up in the trailer park in PA.
Back at the house, two-time Fashion Week expert and walker Alexandria instructs Jaclyn on how to be a model. Observant Jaclyn to Alexandria: "I feel like you're my mother." We can't wait to see which other lost and destitute model hopefuls Alexandria will take under her experienced wings this season.
At panel, Tyra sports an Andre Leon Talley tee, and we notice that Andre himself has traded in his cape for a finely tailored suit. We gasp, but there's no time to wallow in our cape-less confusion — there is modeling to be judged and frontrunners to be predicted! Molly gets called first, which we were expecting from the first moment she mentioned that she was an athletic band nerd (how high fashion!). Mikaela with the exaggerated eyebrows, Awkwardly Dressed Brittani, and "young Jennifer Aniston" Pigtailed Hannah (who we think is reminiscent of our favorite Annaleigh from Cycle 11) are the most buzzed about among the judges. Freckle face Dominique and Angelia are in the bottom two and Angelia gets the boot. But after this first elimination of the cycle, we all breathe a sigh of relief: Top Model is back in action.