Friday, 30 September 2011

Cynical and Jaded

Final: 26th September 2011

Thousands auditioned! Hundreds of thousands then watched those auditions and wondered who the fuck thought this was broadcastable! Then 85 girls made it to boot camp, and 13 made it to the Top Model house, but now only two girls remains: Jade and Juste. It's BintModel!

Terrible titles for the very last time. I'm expecting to feel nostalgia at this point, but really all I feel is a deep, deep gratitude that this is the last time I will have to recap this godforsaken series. Hey, remember back when we were all expecting people like Holly and Stacey to make the final? Ah, funtimes. This is what comes of being sad enough to google "britain and ireland's next top model spoilers". Although, knowing what I know now, a search for spoilers should've conjured up a picture of the entire production team who made this series. Also, I miss Ufuoma.

Voice Of Fearne, who appears to have padded her part again especially for the finale, reminds us that 13 weeks ago, Elle and The Woo-Woo Girls went looking for modelling talent in Britain and Ireland, and three weeks of the dullest television imaginable ensued. Despite the fact that we're all trying to forget the televised auditions ever happened, the show decides to pad out the finale with some audition "highlights" including bloody Tania Roxanna Federenco again, Jessica in her bikini, and the much-missed Bible Brenda. At this point, I think not having a valid passport and thereby excusing herself from this mess was the best thing that could've possibly happened to her.

Eventually, we had a final 13, and they met The Wanted, did some cheerleading, fell off catwalks (that was mainly Juste, admittedly), walked like truck drivers, got dissed by Tyson Beckford, had rows in the house, posed in the altogether, refused to go underwater, and 11 of them got cut in a series of eliminations. In a recap of this process, we're "treated" once again to Katie Price reciting "she doesn't fit the job description - jog on", which seems more and more learned by rote every time I see her say it (and seriously, just how much of a television skidmark is Signed By Katie Price going to be, judging from her performance here?) Thanks to poor production scheduling, most of the eliminations were doubles, so the girls leave two by two, in a sort of fierce reversal of Noah's ark. Now only two remain: "Jade, the 20-year-old insurance advisor from Stoke who believed she was different from the start," and Juste, "the 20-year-old receptionist who moved to London from Lithuania, desperate to make her mark on the modelling world". At this point, I'm wondering if Lithuania's Next Top Model might have been a better idea. She still might not have won (SPOILERS!) but at least she'd have been spared the indignity of losing to Jade.

Voice Of Fearne continues that Juste and Jade will be taking part in a catwalk show for designer Mark Fast, whose work is apparently much enjoyed by Kylie Minogue and Rihanna, but first they're heading to their London hotel to prepare for the big event. They're in separate cars, because this show really has no idea how to make the most practical use of its budget. Jade blathers on about wanting to win, and how winning this show will give her "the best possible start". Sure, because international fashion houses are beating a path to Mecia Simson's door. And I don't know about you guys, but I simply can't step out the door without seeing Lianna Fowler's face. Even Tuffnuh isn't appearing during the ad breaks on Glee any more. Damn you, Sky1! Juste doesn't want to think about the final too much (you and me both, sweetcheeks), but is finding it hard not to. Jade says that it's daunting to have Juste as a competitor, but she knew that Juste was bound to make the final, so she's sort of got used to the idea. Juste can't quite contemplate what winning would be like, which (SPOILER!) is probably just as well.

They arrive at their London pad, 51 Buckingham Gate. Some time after their arrival, Jade walks into the bedroom and does the least convincing "surprise discovery" of an Elle Mail (it's not even E-Mail any more?) I've seen in quite some time. She summons Juste, and reads it: "Hi girls, as a final night treat, I've laid on a dinner for you BOTH, a special guest each. You have one hour to get ready, love Elle." Now, I've noted Jade's odd emphasis of the word both there, but to be fair, even if she had read that like a normal person, it's still grammatically appalling. At least now I guess we've got proof that Elle writes them herself. They go to get ready. These two have absolutely zero chemistry together, by the way. I can handle having two finalists who don't particularly like each other (I can imagine last year's finalists all having sticking pins in pagan images of each other), but Jade and Juste have so little to say to each other, it's like they only met five minutes ago. [I'm sure that this has got nothing to do with the fact that Juste is awesome and Jade is TERMINALLY DULL - Helen]

Voice Of Fearne announces that their special guests are the girls they became closest to in the competition, who conveniently happen to be the two most recently eliminated contestants, Imogen and Anastasija. I think it speaks volumes for how unengaged I feel by this finale that even an Axis Reunion isn't really doing it for me. Jade and Imogen have their meal up on a balcony, while Juste and Anastasija are in a courtyard down below. Jade and Imogen fail to capitalise on the opportunity to gob on The Axis. Imogen tells Jade that she and Juste are both amazing models, but she's a more deserving winner. Juste, sounding a bit bored, tells Anastasija that she's very nervous. Anastasija tells her that she had the best walk in the competition when Alek Wek was evaluating them. "But I almost fell off," counters Juste. Almost?! Imogen tells Jade she has the most amazing face, and just has to work it. Juste is glad to have made it this far. Imogen tells Jade she deserves it more, which is a slight rewording of what she already said about 45 seconds ago. Remember, folks, these were the HIGHLIGHTS of the conversation. Also, Jade has barely said anything. Everyone toasts.

Coming up: Katy B and Miss J. And possibly Malcolm X, Suzy Q, Jessie J, Axel F and anyone else with a single latter at the end of their name.

After the commercials, we're in the Confessional with Jade, who confesses that she's feeling a bit sad to be at the end of the whole competition. Whether she'll feel this way when she actually has to watch it on television is another matter entirely. She interviews that she wants to win and thinks she deserves it. Juste interviews that this is an experience you only get once, so she enjoyed every day of it, and hopes to get a modelling career out of it. Juste seems so utterly defeated this episode. I don't know if it's just not being able to cope outside of The Axis, or knowing Jade's got this thing sewn up, or what, but she's not her usual self. She asks us to wish her luck for later. GOOD LUCK JUSTE!

Juste and Jade get into a car and Juste, feeling Dave Berry's absence acutely, asks Jade how she's feeling. Jade is a bit nervous, but okay. Phew!

They arrive at an opulent, faintly churchy-looking building, as Voice Of Fearne informs us they're preparing for "the biggest walk-off of their lives". Aside from the big walk-off in the opposite direction from the telly we'll all be doing if something don't BLOODY HAPPEN SOON. Seriously, we're a quarter of the way through this episode, and they have done NOTHING yet. If you were going to have this much dead air to fill, you could've kept Anastasija or Imogen (by which I mean Anastasija) around a bit longer. Jade asks Juste if the weird church altar catwalk is what she expected; Juste confirms that it is not. Then: Miss J Alexander enters. Maybe he can salvage this mess! He tells them that they're two lucky bitches, partly because they're going to work with him. He also tells them that they've each got an accessory to work with today, and the accessories are...dogs! He checks to see if they're "nervous" or "allergic", and Juste says that she loves dogs. Miss J is not entirely convinced by her delivery. Juste voices over that she was worried the dogs might try to drag her down the stairs. Jade interviews that if it crosses over her when she's walking, that'll be a problem.

Miss J asks them for a "strong, fabulous, sexy walk with a bit of a dirty edge to it". Jade goes first, and handles the staircase onto the catwalk rather lumpily before making her way to the end and posing. Miss J advises her to take strides that are the right length for her body. Then it's Juste's turn, and her walk is declared "not bad" by the runway-diva-coach-extraordinaire. He then tells them not to overdo the sexiness part of the briefing, and to remember to pause at the end of the catwalk for three seconds.

Now it's time to practice with the dogs. Jade does pretty well, although her dog is not particularly keen to wait at the end of the runway. Juste has slightly more trouble: chiefly because when she, as instructed, feeds the dog at the end of the catwalk, it bites her finger. Tsk, these model dogs and their eating disorders. Miss J tells us that Juste is more confident because she's taller, and Jade is special with her freckles, and her nerves might give her two more inches. I don't entirely understand that.

Miss J introduces the girls to Terry Hart, a show producer who has worked with Matthew Williamson, Vivienne Westwood, and that mad Welshman on the panel. Terry sends them up to hair and make-up to get ready. Juste interviews that she thinks they're both handling things quite well so far. Jade says she's feeling okay after the practices, but she needs to go a bit slower on the stairs and not be so clompy. She says that she's practising a lot in order to get it perfect. In rehearsal, Terry tells her not to pause so much. Juste interviews that she doesn't get complaints about her walk. Terry points out that the catwalk is a tough challenge because they're new faces with little experience, and they've got a ruddy great staircase to climb down. However, he thinks Juste and Jade are great, because they're showing no fear and just getting on with it.

Coming up: the final catwalk, and the judges deliberating. I can barely contain myself.

Commercials. Whenever I see James Morrison, I remember that time I interviewed him and he talked about snot a lot. It's not the sort of thing you forget easily.

On our return, the show is about to begin, and the models are getting their final touch-ups backstage. To their make-up and hair, I mean. They haven't got Julien there going "WORRA PAIR OF KNOCKAZZ, WARP WARP WARP!" at them or anything. Juste says she's feeling more and more nervous. Jade, on the other hand, says she's feeling more like a model now that she's got her hair and make-up done. Joining them on the catwalk today will be top model Daisy Lowe, and last year's winner TUFFNUH! Daisy tells Jade to just enjoy herself and to try not to be nervous, because that will give her the right sort of energy. Then Daisy digs Juste out of the crowd, and asks her if she's done catwalk before. Juste says that she's not worried about walking. Daisy says "what about the stairs?" and Juste says that's fine. Daisy giggles that she's a bit nervous about the stairs. Daisy asks Mark Fast if he's got a favourite to win, which he has. They giggle that they can whisper to each other as long as the cameras don't pick it up, but I think we all know that their favourite is Kimberleigh. Incidentally, I am disappointed that we got no words of inspiration from Tuffnuh. "JUST DUH YUH BUST! UH BULUVE UN YUH! UND THUN UFTUH WUH CUN GUHT SUHM CHUPS, YUH?"

Outside, a crowd is forming. Lots of utterly ridiculous high-fashion goons make their way into the building ostentatiously, and the eliminated contestants from this series enter in a more low-key manner. The girls queue up for drinks at the bar, and Holly tells us she wants Jade to win. She asks if anyone else wants Jade to win, and there is a very loud cheer, but it appears to be coming entirely from Tanya. Ufuoma wants Juste to win, because Ufuoma is awesome - although she does say that she loves them both equally [Ufuoma lies so easily it's a crime she didn't go further - Helen]. Anastasija reminds us that she spoke to Juste yesterday and reminded her that she's achieved a lot, whatever happens. See, the entirety of The Axis knows that Juste ain't winning this. It's so sad. Juste's family are here, and her mum says that when she went to school, she wrote that she wanted to be a model. Imogen makes a grab for more camera time to gush about her "best friend Jade" and how much she wants her to win. Jade's mum interviews that she's the proudest mum in the world right now.

Elle and the judges arrive. Grace appears to have come dressed as Elvira. Elle blathers that, upon "reviewing the footage", she's realised that they've all been rooting for these two all along. How convenient! Charley thinks they must be excited. Elle thinks they must be nervous, and asks the others if they've seen the stairs on the catwalk yet. Grace thinks they'll have to work hard to stand out on the catwalk and show what they've learned over the process. Jade interviews that she's getting nervous as she hears people arrive. Juste is feeling nervous too, with all the waiting, but she's trying to be cool.

The judges take their seats, and for some reason get applauded as they do so. Charley waves to everyone like the utter goon that he is. Katy B performs to warm up the audience. I've not been to a lot of fashion shows (okay, fine, I've not been to any, except a charity one run by the Student Union when I was at university, and that was more of a dance recital), but is this normal? We get flashbacks of Juste and Jade's journeys so far as Katy sings. This is all very nice, but can we get on with it please?

Finally, it's time to get going. Terry gives them all some last minute words of encouragement, final alterations are made to the outfits, and then it's time to hit the catwalk. Tuffnuh opens the show, and Jade is sent out after her, telling us that she was trying to focus more on the fashion show than the fact that this was the finale of BintModel. Seems sensible. Jade runs backstage for a costume change, and interviews that she was a bit shaky, but it went okay. Juste makes her way down the stage with confidence, although her outfit is absolutely horrible. She interviews that it was okay, and very exciting, but when she got to the end of the catwalk and posed, everyone was shouting her name. Jade heads out again, in a dress that's far nicer than either of the ones she and Juste wore first time out, and this is the time where she's got to take the dog with her. She interviews that it didn't want to come back once she got to the end of the catwalk, but she gave it a bit of a tug and got it to follow her. To be fair, to the untrained eye, this all happens fairly smoothly, and I doubt I'd have noticed anything was wrong if Jade hadn't pointed it out. She interviews that she nearly tripped on the last step, but she doesn't think anyone saw. Juste has similar problems with her dog, only more pronounced: not only did it not particularly want to walk down the catwalk in the first place, but it also raced ahead of her on the way back, so she just lets it away from her as she gets to the end and interviews that she was acting like that was totally meant to happen. Again: as cover-ups go, it was relatively deft. Tuffnuh walks again. Juste frets about the quick changes backstage. Some lollipop-headed models troop down the catwalk. Finally, Jade and Juste take their last walk side-by-side, getting a standing ovation from Julien and Grace. When they head back up the stairs, you can totally see Jade's underwear through her dress. More importantly, you can see her arse. Jade and Juste have a little debriefing amongst themselves: Jade thinks the crowd were good, Juste didn't see anyone, Jade is disappointed that there's nothing she can do now to affect the outcome.

Coming up: the result, hopefully.

Ad break. I quite fancy the guy in the Zalando advert. [He is fit, but I find that advert really insulting to the sisterhood. God, this show is so dull I'm commenting on the adverts - Helen]

We're back, and the fashion show is winding to a close. Juste interviews that she feels proud of everything she did, and she wouldn't change anything. She hopes it's going to get her through. Jade thinks she's done enough to win, and doesn't think she could've done anything else. She thinks Juste's amazing, though, so it's ultimately down to the judges to make the call. Juste wants them to see her journey, and even though she came in with experience, she's learned a lot. She hopes the judges will see that she can do edgy, editorial and commercial modelling. Jade thinks she's learned a lot in a short time, and still has more to offer.

The judges line up on the catwalk to decide the victor. Grace says that she couldn't tell them apart from the other girls, and then says that their girls were better. Well, which is it? Julien thought they were better than the professional models. Elle thinks that they're both interesting and different, and it's hard to know which way to go. She suggests looking at their body of work, like this is a brand-new concept and not a time-honoured Top Model tradition. Then again, given the general lack of reverence they showed for the format all series, it's nice to see that there's still room for some of the bits we're used to. We start with Juste's boot camp picture, when she had long blonde hair and was posing with Bible Brenda. Grace likes her smile in the picture. We see Jade's picture from the same shoot, and Charley admires her presence. Grace points out that Jade is standing in the background, but steals the shot from the girl in front of her.

Then we have the nude shoot, which Jade thinks is Juste at her best, showcasing her natural intensity, vulnerability and elegance. Julien thinks her body is flawless. Jade's nude shot is shown next, and Grace thinks other women will want to look like Jade. Elle thinks it's sexy, beautiful and natural. From there, we go to the falconry picture, and Grace reminds us that she was unhappy with Juste's stern attitude in this shoot, and she wanted to see more of a surreal nature to the picture. Julien disagrees, and says it's one of her favourite pictures. Elle thinks Jade's picture is one of her best, though I'll have to be honest, I'm not a fan of this one. Her skin looks too pale (not Jade's fault, admittedly) and she's doing that "menstrual cramps" pose, which I hate. Charley says that this was a surprise to him, because she'd only been giving smiley pictures up to that.

Interestingly, the ballet shoot (Jade's only real misstep as far as the judges were concerned) is skipped over, and they go straight to the beauty shot. Charley thinks Juste got this so right, especially compared to the others, and Julien thinks she looks gorgeous. Elle thinks Jade's picture is cool and modern, and Grace thinks it's arresting. Then we go to the Everglades shot, and Julien thinks she looks fantastic, while Elle thinks she looks young and beautiful and feminine. Jade's shot in the Everglades is fresh. Grace opines that if she were a woman buying a product (why the "if", Grace? I don't think either of those clauses are particularly up for debate), then this is the women that would sell it to her. Charley thinks it's an honest shot, but Elle thinks it's "a bit model-by-numbers". Then we have the Miami beach shot, where Julien thinks Juste looks athletic, and Elle says that's the body the supermodels of her day. I'm not entirely clear on this, but I think we're meant to infer from this that it looks dated rather than she looks like a supermodel. Jade's beach shot is shown, and Julien thinks she looks gorgeous, like a Bond girl. [VROOM VROOM... What's that noise Juste? IT'S THE BUS.- Helen]

To finish, we have an end-of-runway shot from the Mark Fast show, with the girls standing side-by-side. Elle thinks they were both so strong and present, and she was drawn to them both each time - Jade was nervous, but her nervous energy was attractive. Juste, on the other hand, had a quiet confidence that attracted your attention. Julien thinks they were both fantastic on the runway, but Jade wanted it more. Grace wants to remind us what she's said about Juste every week - she carries herself like a model. Elle wonders if they're looking for the arc and the journey, or the girl that's consistently delivering. Julien thinks they want someone unique and different, which they've got in two very different ways. Charley awakens from his slumber and mumbles "it's such a tough decision", before rolling over and returning to that dream where he's a spaceman. He's much happier there, let's face it.

After all that, it's time to announce the winner. The families of the finalists, and the previous contestants, are sitting by the catwalk waiting to hear the result. Juste and Jade walk back in, and Elle tells her "gorgeous girls" it's time to have one last look at the prizes. Since this is the final episode, I'll recap: they're competing for a contract with Models1, a six-page spread in Company, a holiday for two to Jamaica, a car, a cosmetics campaign with Revlon, and a £50,000 international campaign with Miss Selfridge which will be featured in over 250 stores worldwide. I know we mock this show a lot, but as prizes go, they aren't too shabby.

Elle says that it's been a magical experience for her, and that she and the judges have loved the whole challenge, but she'd like to hear how the girls have found it. Jade says that she's grown loads and learned what she's doing. Juste says she's enjoyed every day and got a lot of experience from this, and whatever the outcome, she'll continue modelling. Elle declares that the winner's face will be shown on the screen in 10 seconds. And the winner is...

...Jade, duh. Jade weeps, and her family screams. Jade steps forward to hug Elle, and is entirely lost for words. Juste is a bit tearful, but Elle assures her she's going to work, and work, and work. Juste interviews that although she lost, she didn't really lose because she's going to keep going. "Second place is not the worst - I'm happy I got that far," she assures us. She says that her biggest highlight was meeting Anastasija. Mine too - I shudder to think how we'd have got through this series if we hadn't had The Axis to entertain us. Juste fades out of the group shot, leaving Jade alone.

Jade can't believe that she's won, and she's ecstatic and numb. She says that the ups and downs of the competition have all paid off. Julien thinks that she was very quiet and nervous when they met her, but she's learned how to become a top model, and that's why they love her. Grace says that Jade is like her name - a rare and precious stone that they found in the rough and polished. I like that Grace uses Jade's win as an opportunity to make it all about herself. Charley says that Jade is a fantastic winner, in much the same manner that Krusty the Klown would say "I HEARTILY ENDORSE THIS EVENT OR PRODUCT." Elle is pleased that Jade won, because she's unique, and that's what the show was looking for. We get another look at Jade's journey through the competition.

And that's the end! It was a lethargic end to a hugely disappointing series, but I guess I'm okay with the winner. She wouldn't have been my personal choice, and I'm still not entirely convinced that it wasn't just an attempt to get more people to go to BintModel Live by convincing them they'll be spotted and win next year's series, but she had a strong portfolio and did well in the final catwalk show. And importantly, she's not Alisha. I know Alisha wasn't even in this series, but I think it's important to remember that when considering your feelings on a winner.

So I'm all right with Jade winning, but that doesn't change my feelings on the series as a whole, which is that it's been a horrible, clumsy mess. If it returns next year, and I'm assuming it will, then I would like to request the following, please:
- Go back to holding the auditions off-camera, because they really don't make good telly in the slightest
- Work out a production schedule where double eliminations are a rarity, not the norm
- Have a desk in the judging room again
- Go back to having the girls remain in the judging room after they've got their photos. Sending them out to the dressing room always just looked so cheap.
- Replace Charley Speed with someone who actually cares.
- Proper go-sees, none of this "one appointment only, to which you are ferried by Grace" nonsense.
- Have three people in the final again. It's just too much airtime for two people to fill adequately. [Amen - Helen]

I might even send that list to Sky Living and see if they pay attention. Thank you for reading, those of you who did, and fingers crossed that next year's show irons out some of these kinks, eh? Otherwise I'm not sure any of us will survive an entire series.

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