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Thursday September 4, 2008 9:17 am

America’s Next Top Model Cycle 11: Top Model Inauguration

America's Next Top Model Cycle 11

For the 11th cycle of , the CW wasted no time in getting viewers drawn into the drama. In addition to the annual selection episode, Week 1 consisted of a bonus elimination hour.

Since the 14 finalists (including a transgendered contestant) were revealed to the media weeks ago, there’s really little need to detail the events of the show’s anti-climatic first half. So let’s just move on to meaty portion of the competition, shall we?

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America’s Next Top Model

Sharaun from America's Next Top Model

Although the last round of models spent their time in New York, this season’s 14 finalists were brought back to LA. Why? Not sure. But since it was where Tyra got her start, it apparently held significance.

After the standard welcome from (the creative director) and Miss J (the runway trainer), the ladies had time to check out their new digs and learn more about their competition. This meant standing around interrogating Isis about life as a pre-op transgendered person. (What do you do about the Adam’s Apple? A: You can have it removed. How do you ‘wear’ a bikini bottom? A: Tape.) While there were some roomies who were extremely comfortable with Isis’ presence, others were sadly weirded out. Sharaun said America’s Next Top Model was “not going to be a drag queen” while Clarke (the girl who has quickly earned my “house bitch” title) stated that a “he-she” had “no place in the competition.”

Later, McKey, a mixed martial artist, used a pillow to help her with her training. Unfortunately, the sight of her beating the inanimate object was apparently too much for some to handle. Cue Clark. “We’re here for the competition of modeling, not to be a boxer. Oh, McKey. You are not right in the head.”

The next day, the girls were brought to the Magic Castle (a location for magic enthusiasts) where they were forced to endure a cheesy stage act. When the presentation was over, the ladies had , Paulina Porizkova, Jay and Miss J all standing before them. This production led into an ANTM first. The models were now being given their chance to have one-on-one chats with each judge.

The private sessions – which kind of felt like speed dates - gave the judges invaluable insight on the competitors. Within minutes, we knew that Sharaun was the girl who told people she would win, McKey was the one who could kick an inappropriate photographer in the crotch, Majorie was the one with the nervous laugh, Isis was the girl who knew her camera angles and Samantha was the one with the athleticism.

The following day, the girls met Jay Manuel for their very first photo shoot. This year’s politically-conscious theme? The election. Somehow, these 14 ladies were going to make voting booths look sexy to the younger generation.

Marjorie from America's Next Top Model

As expected, the results on this shoot were quite mixed. Elina (Foreign Policy) did a great job smiling with her eyes. Clark (Bureaucracy) came off as a bland “plastic Barbie” doll. Isis (Privacy) managed to display great vulnerability despite rude comments from the peanut gallery. Nikeysha (Cloning) lacked variety in her body movements. Sharaun (Homeland Security) produced stiff and “convoluted” pics. Meanwhile, McKey (Environment), after a few literal air jabs, delivered great energy.

Later at the judges’ panel, the girls were presented a small surprise. Not only were the models vying for the overall prize (a contract with Elite Model Management, a spread in Seventeen magazine and a $100,000 CoverGirl contract), they were competing for weekly bragging rights. The person called first would have their portrait displayed as digital art within their home until the next photo shoot.

When it came time for the evaluations, Marjorie (Immigration) was chosen as this week’s winner. The white-haired blonde wasn’t afraid to try a variety of poses and, as a result, produced editorial-quality pics. Isis with her story-telling photo came in second while McKey and her “gorgeous” photo came in third.

Falling in this week’s Bottom Two were Nikeysha and Sharaun. When the judges critiqued Nikeysha’s body movement (they said her leg looked amputated at the knee), they were quickly turned off by her list of excuses. Instead of pausing to listen, she repeatedly interrupted their suggestions. Meanwhile, Sharaun was chosen for her less-than-stellar pic (she looked like she was handcuffed to the voting machine) and for her horrible one-on-ones. The uninspired judges felt her chats lacked substance.

In the end, the panel apparently felt it was easier to silence someone than to give them depth. LOSER: Sharaun.

(You can read next week’s episode here.)

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