America's Top Model has three Arlington women and one Dallas woman in the competition this season. Hell's Kitchen has a former Fort Worth resident. Top Chef: Just Desserts features a Dallas-based chef. And they all air on Wednesdays. Here's how things went for them Wednesday night.
And if you haven't guessed already, spoilers are ahead. So if you don't want 'em, stop reading now.
America's Next Top Model: When I interviewed three of the four DFW women on America's Next Top Model for this story a couple of weeks back, Arlington's Terra White -- who's on the show along with her sister, Chris -- struck me as poised and mature. So I was a little surprised to see Terra struggle in last week's episode, when she wound up in the bottom two. She stuck around for this week's makeover episode, but she still had problems, obviously being upset with the short haircut she was being given to accent her luscious lips. Or, as Chris White put it, "The problem with my sister is it's written all over her face. And I'm like, 'Please, suck it up, because if you don't, you will go home.' "
Alas, Chris White's statement proved to be prophetic. When Terra did her post-makeover photo shoot, J. Alexander leaned in to Jay Manuel and said "You can go to a mall and find better poses than this." I thought that she was in trouble -- but I also thought that she'd be around at least till the end of the episode. But the J's yanked the Band-Aid off pretty quickly, with a surprise elimination of Terra midway through. Which seems kinda callous -- give someone a makeover they don't like, then send them home almost immediately? Or as Terra put it, "I don't think it's right. I'd much rather they sent me home before they cut my hair than after. I don't feel like it's a good decision at all."
Chris, on the other hand, dug the weave she was given in her makeover: "I got the Beyonce weave. I got that good hair. You can't buy this on the street. This is exactly what I want. I'm gonna take it, rock it and these other girls can go home." Chris is showing a lot of confidence, although it was rattled a bit when Terra was sent home. But in the later "Fallen Angels" photo shoot (in which the women interacted with male models), Chris was among the women who did well.
Relatively well, anyway. The judges, who seemed to be in a particularly brutal mood last night, really tore into a lot of the models' photos. Chris, posing as a "heartbroken" fallen angel, got a sort of backhanded compliment from Tyra Banks: "I don't think this picture is strong," Banks said, although she did praise Chris' facial expressions. "But right now, the [models'] film is so weak collectively that now we must grade on the curve. So on the curve, you are rising above the pack."
Really rising above the pack, for the second week in a row, was Dallas' Ann Ward, the 6-foot-2 model who's at risk of being considered a judges' pet. Ann loved her hair-extension makeover, and despite having had to endure comments about her height all her life, she also dug the way the hair extensions made her look even taller. The judges loved her "longing" fallen-angel shoot, and for the second consecutive week, she had the best photo at the end of the episode. It's not unusual for ANTM to have a woman who's seemingly awkward until she blossoms in front of the camera, but Ann appears to be a better example of this than usual.
Ann was among a trio of models who played a prank on the other models, dropping a fake list of upcoming makeovers for another model to find and spread panic throughout the house. As it turned out, the fake list resembled much of what really happened, but a couple of models -- including Terra White and Arlington's Liz Williams -- got makeovers they didn't expect. Liz had her hair cut even shorter than Terra's, and Liz, who already has a bit of an androgynous look, complained that the short hair made her look even more like a boy.
During the "Fallen Angel" shoot, Liz had to express power and victory while being suspended, like the other models, in a harness. "You feel like you're wearing a huge Depends diaper, but with metal," Liz said, prompting Jay Manuel to say, "Liz is becoming a pain in the butt. Everything is a complaint with her. The judges weren't crazy about her photo shoot, but she's safe to be around another week, as model Sara was the night's second elimination. And this after her eyebrows were bleached so much that she resembles David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth. There are worse things than having your hair cut too short.
Hell's Kitchen: Former Fort Worth resident Nona Sivley, who's now based in the Atlanta area, didn't get off to a great start on HK: She had the dishonor of being the first person this season to have their food spat out by Gordon Ramsay, who didn't care for Sivley's fried chicken and asparagus. And at the end of the first hour, when the bitchy Sabrina was up for elimination along with someone whose name I've already forgotten, Sabrina tried to put up Nona for a write-in vote. "She snores and it keeps us all awake," Sabrina kvetched. Sivley told the camera (and by extension, Sabrina) afterward: "Everybody snores. Give me a break. You're an infant."
Sivley recovered from that nicely in the second hour, when the contestants had a challenge in which they had to re-create Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's salmon cucumber avocado and tuna migiri sushi rolls. I'm no sushi expert, but I do know that it is a Japanese dish, unlike some of the HK contestants (Jillian: "I've never worked with Chinese food ever!" Melissa, who's paired with Filipino Gail: "I'm paired with Asian chick!" Asia's a big continent, babe.)
Despite Jillian's moment of culinary/cultural/geographical ignorance, she and Nona did well as a sushi-making team, with eight of their nine rolls meeting Ramsay's approval. Teammates Emily and Sabrina also did well, with seven out of nine. Too bad Melissa and Gail skunked it, with zero passing rolls, because their weak effort tanked the women's team -- and the men's team got a trip to San Francisco, which led to good ol' boy Curtis having the second-best line of the night: "I've been to Daytona, Talledega. But San Francisco -- hell, no!"
The first best line of the night belonged to the hapless Raj, the kind of contestant HK seems to find every time out -- not just baffled in the kitchen, but addled in real life, with a few physical eccentricities thrown in (sure was mean of the contestants to imitate his breathing problems). During a wine tasting at San Francisco's Cellar 360, Raj swilled a whole glass the way I used to chug beer in college. "I try to drink only once a week," the thirsty Raj said. "But I drink pretty heavily that once a week."
The bickering women's team came together, however, for the dinner service, despite some lumps (never mind not knowing how to cook meat when you're on Hell's Kitchen; why would you say you don't know when Gordon Ramsay can hear you?). The men's team, despite their bonding during the San Francisco trip, was a mess. Practically anyone could have gone home, from the much-embattled Raj to Vinny, who as assistant maitre d' actually told customers not to order sides, to the bullying Boris. But in the end, Ramsay made a summary judgment, skipping the men's nominations for elimination and kicking off Curtis. Which is too bad -- he was one of the more likable people on the show.
Top Chef Just Desserts: Oh, let's get this out of the way. Dallas-based pastry chef Morgan Wilson is safe. He was in the middle last night. Frankly, all I remember about the episode is that Wilson's buddy, Seth Caro, had a reality-show meltdown of historic proportions. Really -- the next time someone does a list of Top 10 Reality Show Meltdowns, this is gonna be on it. This video only tells part of the story (and the meltdown doesn't begin till near the end):
What you don't see here: Seth dissolving into such a pool of tears during the Quickfire judging that guest judge Elizabeth Falkner, a former Top Chef Masters contestant, had to hug him and console him; Seth ranting at the other contestants later on, basically saying that everyone is against him; Seth trying hard to make up for his previous behavior, then ranting again that everyone's against him. But Seth stays. What do they think this is, Hell's Kitchen?
Top Chef All-Stars: The cast was announced last night for All-Stars, which will debut Dec. 1. Not at all surprised to see Tre Wilcox, Casey Thompson and Tiffany Derry -- DFW chefs all -- returning as All-Stars. And on their respective seasons, none of them had a meltdown like Seth's.