It’s November, so that tingling, cold sensation creeping down our spine can only mean two things: Either our heat isn’t working, or we’re approaching the finale of America’s Next Top Model, in which yet another pretty girl who’s worked hard for weeks on end will win the right to get swept under the rug by CoverGirl and never be seen again. But what a cycle this was. Tyra’s trailblazing — in her own mind — “short models” season featured girls who were long on personality, if perhaps not on career prospects (or legs), and yielded the first-ever final two instead of a trio of finalists. But despite the presence of an early front-runner in that last pair standing, it might not be as easy a decision as it seems. Once again, we don our odds-making hats — they’re like bejeweled turbans, but taller — and predict whether flame-haired Nicole or country-fried Laura will take the crown in lucky Cycle 13.
Nicole: Even money.
We said it MIGHT not be an easy decision … but it probably is. Nicole is a stunner who’s taken a raft of gorgeous photos with nary a clunker in the bunch, earning her the distinction of being hated by almost all her competitors primarily because she kicked their asses every single week (yet never gloated about it — good for the soul; less good for TV). She also managed to pull out a decent CoverGirl ad in spite of her occasionally monotonic voice, proving that she’s not fallible even when you expect her to be, and she may be the only girl in ANTM history to get an extravagant red weave that didn’t end up looking like roadkill. In other words, Nicole probably has to tank the finale’s runway show — like, tumble-into-Tyra’s-lap-and-pierce-her-with-a-stiletto tank — in order to lose. But considering that she’s the model with the most legitimate long-term prospects, we almost hope she does crash and burn, so that she’s free to accept actual work as soon as this thing is over. Also, we’d love to see Tyra’s expression if an errant pump knocked her wig out of place.
Laura: 5 to 1.
Unlike most cycles, this finale does not boil down to one strong walker versus one great speaker; in fact, we have no idea whether either of these two knows how to comport herself on a runway without bruising her tailbone, and they’ve both proven glowy and charming on-camera. So the contest could potentially come down to intangibles like relatability, which CoverGirl loves and country-girl Laura has in spades. She positively oozes down-home quaintness, prone to twanging things like “We don’t have a lot of oceans in Kentucky” and sporting clothes made almost exclusively by her grandmother. She’s also got the better backstory: If you don’t hear the phrase “castrating bulls” at least three times in tonight’s episode, referring to Laura’s job before the competition, we’ll go neuter one ourselves. (By which we mean we’ll consider forgoing our nightly Diet Coke.) But lest you think Laura only made it this far on charm and blind luck, may we remind you that the girl took some seriously fierce photographs along the way. In fact, in what we believe is another ANTM first, neither she nor Nicole ever appeared in the dreaded Bottom Two during an elimination. So Laura could sneak away with this one … but primarily only if Nicole lets down her guard, or loses her face in a tragic lip-gloss accident.
Eddie Murphy’s Daughter: 1 to 10.
No question about it, The Spawn of Murphy is the only odds-on, slam-dunk victor this cycle, thanks to endless press about how Eddie is attending the final runway show and his daughter will appear in it. Raise your hand if you even remembered he had a daughter, much less one who’s old enough to model … yeah, we thought not. Congrats, kiddo! As of today, you’re marginally less anonymous. Run with it. We hear CoverGirl may be hiring.
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