It's finally here! The premiere of "The Face!" And even though it's only, oh, the very first episode, we're already treated to a variety of door slams and insults that would make any reality show fan blush with excitement.
Before we begin, let's become acquainted with our Team Leaders:
Naomi Campbell, who says "If people think they know me, they can think again." Well I would love to know you Naomi but SOMEBODY won't accept my LINKEDIN request.
Karolina Kurkova, who has modeled for both lingerie emporium Victoria Secret and luxury label Chanel, which would easily have triple the sales had it been called "Karl Lagerfeld's Secrets."
And Coco Rocha, 24, the youngest of our judges. Coco says she's not your typical model and she doesn't play it safe. Coco's museum-worthy Ugly-Pretty Face is in complete agreement with this statement.
During last week's Elimination Special, we learned which teams the model contestants would be on this season: Team Naomi, Team Karolina and Team Coco.
Week in, week out, the coaches of the losing teams will pick their weakest model to go to the elimination round, where it will be up to the coach of the winning team to decide which one goes home. Remember those door slams we talked about earlier?? Well this set-up kiiiind of has something to do with it. (Say, everything.)
Host Nigel Barker introduces us to New York, telling us that "as a model, if you can make it here, you can truly make it anywhere," which is exactly what Frank Sinatra had in mind when he wrote that song. Really, banging barely legal models is actually exactly what he had in mind.
We get the first glimpse of the apartment the models will be living in. And look! It's an Anthropologie catalogue!!
The model contestants all meet each other and there's a lot of long-limbed "raising the roof" happening.
Suddenly, a scream rings through the house. At first, I thought one of my neighbors was being brutally attacked. But just as I was about to close the balcony door so as not to involve myself, I saw this:
That's Sandra, 20, of Team Naomi, Tazmanian Deviling her way through the foyer before throwing herself on the floor in front of her fellow models. They don't know whether to leave the room or "Mia Wallace" a rabies vaccine directly into her heart. This scene is made even more surreal given that she's still in full Avatar face makeup from the preliminary round:
Could someone not have spared this girl a face wipe? No. There was not a square to spare.
A red-headed contestant named Aleksandra, 23, tells us in a thick Russian accent that Sandra will probably "kill her one night." The Oxygen execs can only pray. ("Save the murder ep for sweeps week!” – Oxygen Exec board meeting.)
Zi Lin, 25, reveals that she is 2011's Miss Universe China. Just like I was crowned 2009’s Miss America Paterson New Jersey.
The 3 Queen Models enter the apartment to screams and applause. Naomi admits she has "strong personalities" on her team, and pre-scolds them not to fight with each other. The ladies spend the evening schmoozing with one another while their bodies try to mine whatever nutrients exist in prosecco.
The next morning, host Nigel Barker greets the ladies in his best pressed denim jacket. Their first challenge, Test Shoot #1, is called "Who Wore It Better?" Each pair of models will receive the same outfit, which they will then have to style and accessorize on their own. The winner of the challenge will get a $5,000 shopping spree at Top Shop. And deciding the winner is none other than the woman who lost the part of Selina Kyle to Anne Hathaway... Naomi Campbell.
Devyn and Stephanie are up first. Their theme is Party Girl, and they're given a sequined mini dress and giant black feathered bolero previously seen growing out of Natalie Portman. They quickly change behind two screens, and reveal their looks.
Naomi criticizes Devyn for throwing a chunky gold necklace on an outfit that is already puking shine, but likes Stephanie's choice of big hoops and oxblood pumps. To everyone's surprise but especially Devyn's, Naomi picks baby duckling Stephanie as the winner.
Marlee is next, and she chooses to go against Sandra, who to be fair, takes the Ray Charles approach to self-styling. Their trend is Business Casual. It's Sandra's choice of a highlighter yellow forearm cuff which gives Marlee the advantage.
Jocelyn and Madeleine are the final duo to go up, and they're given a biker chic look. Madeleine ends up picking a pair of shoes that are too small for her feet, and struggles to shove her flesh canoes into the metallic peeptoe meatgrinders she so carelessly chose. She hobbles out from behind the screen like a crippled boy taking his first steps in a Pentecostal church.
Nigel asks if shes been crying. She tries to deny it, but Naomi calls her out on it. "What are you gonna do, cry in front of the press, the editors? Or take this pain?" Jocelyn sums it up best:
Marguax, Jocelyn and Zi Lin move forward to the final round, where they're given the look of "Masculine Chic."
Despite Margaux's choice of clear, nearly invisible, impossible to see jewelry, Naomi gives it to Zi Lin, whose floral bustier gave an otherwise boring black suit a fresh twist. Back at the apartment, the girls try to flame the fire by telling Margaux they thought she had it in the clear, barely visible bag. Conspiracies begin to arise that Zi Lin won because she's on Naomi's team. As much as I'd love to believe this, and a jealous as I am of Margaux's perfect bangs, I actually think Zi Lin really did look the best.
Next, the girls will be working in their teams for the Campaign challenge. But this is no ordinary Campaign. This week, it's for W Magazine! You know, the one that's the size of a three-way science fair posterboard?
Nigel presents a storyboard created by W Magazine, where the "Uptown Girls”" pay the "Downtown Girls" an unwelcome visit in a weird, Mad Max setting. The last square in this comic is blank, and each team must create the look that finishes the story.
The teams break off to brainstorm ideas. Sandra immediately takes charge over at Team Naomi, staging an all-out gang war between the team. "Two people each team fighting, I take you on the floor, bam, you're dead." Her team processes the idea:
When Jocelyn rejects Sandra's idea and instead suggests making their photo 3 girls on 1, Sandra is clearly upset. To once again quote the great Elaine Benes: "Of course! She's deranged."
The Team leaders show up to offer their teams some advice. Naomi tells us that "As a coach, I'm going to give them tough love." Which she promptly does, criticizing her team's idea and shaking up their entire game plan. They listen, of course, because as Aleksandra puts it:
Coco consults with her team. She likes their idea, but tells them to make it more theatrical. This theatrical?
Coco starts to Scorsese her team with different model gang signs they should throw out during the shoot. Like this:
The models attempt their best aggressive stances. Here is Stephanie's:
Back at Team Naomi, the girls are disappointing their coach with their lackluster posing. Aleksandra doesn't understand why Naomi thinks she's weak, and my "elimination bone tingling" tells me she might be going home. Nigel introduces the girls to their photographer, using keywords such as "legendary" and "no one bigger." In fact, he ain't lying: It's famed photographer Patrick Demarchelier. The girls are pumped.
Team Naomi is up first. It's 2 Uptown girls vs. 2 Downtown girls vs. a Giant Piece of Naval Rope. The rope appears to be winning. Aleksandra of Belarus has been placed under said giant rope in distress, and she genuinely looks it. Patrick keeps telling her to "keep her chin up." Again, and again, and again, until Naomi finally cries out "AlekSANDRIA!" which is close enough to her actual name when you're Naomi Campbell. Let's just hope Aleksandra can "keep her chin up" when she probably gets eliminated at the end of the episode.
Team Karolina is up next. They all seem kind of stiff, but definitely model-y. This is one of the worst gang fights I've ever seen:
Team Coco is next, and it's very The Birdcage: “You do Fosse, Fosse, Fosse! You do Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham! Or Twyla, Twyla, Twyla! Or Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd! Or Madonna, Madonna, Madonna!"
It's a cool concept, but poor Stephanie can barely kick her leg out in the stiletto booties she has on. And her face... mmmmmmmmmmmmm I don't know. It's definitely A face. But I don't think it's THE Face.
JUDGING TIME! A van full of guest judges with extremely complicated names show up to decide which team had the best storyboard finale. Stefano from W Magazine likes Team Coco's pic, and though he points out Stephanie's awkwardness because he has eyes, he also thinks she'd be good on the runway because of her "modern face." MOMA HE DI'INT!
Team Karolina's photo is deemed more "about the story, less about the girls." It's left at that. And in Team Naomi's photo, the judges aren't happy with Zi Lin, saying she's "too model-y," which is really a terrible thing to be in a modeling competition.
In a SHOCKING TWIST of events (meant with zero sarcasm), the judges select Team Karolina as the winning photo which will appear in W Magazine.
Back in the apartment, the girls see their photos for the first time. Stephanie, who to her credit is sweet and self-aware, knows that she's in trouble for tonight's elimination. Team Karolina celebrates their win, and really, to have your photo in W Magazine, literally and physically the biggest magazine in the fashion industry, is pretty amazing.
The coaches of the losing teams each have to pick one girl to go up for elimination. Naomi sits with her four girls – losers – and gives them a stern talking to. She tells "Aleksandria" that she has to be "on point, in case Patrick Demarchelier offers her a Vogue cover." (Which is just slightly less exciting than him offering her an En Vogue cover, maybe of "Giving Him Something He Can Feel.")
Coco is kinder to her team, but still critical. She tells Stephanie that her photo was intense, but not in the pretty model-y way, rather the "I’'m going to get you" kind.
Naomi picks Aleksandra for elimination, while Coco chooses Stephanie.
Karolina is in a tough spot, as the choice of who goes home is now left up to her. After some deliberation, it is Aleksandra who is the first to be cut. And Naynay is fuh...ur...rious. She leaves the room with a tell-tale doorslam. The camera manages to sneak in but is immediately snuck out by Ms. Campbell, who asks the camera guy to leave the room. Karolina arrives back at the apartment and learns that Naomi is angry.
She boldly enters the Team Naomi room and is greeted quite warmly!
The drama... it has started. And it is DELICIOUS. Naomi walks out with this threat:
Meanwhile, there is dramatic footage of Aleksandra wiping her makeup off in a dark, lonely room. Look, on the bright side, she gets to go back to Belarus! So...
Next week, more fighting and lots of door slamming! If they've already managed this kind of fighting in the first episode, I can only imagine what's coming our way this season. (Bloodshed.) See you all next Tuesday night at 9/8c for the next episode of "The Face!"