Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Life isn't about getting what you want.": America's Next Top Model

Andy: Cycle 907 of "America's Next Top Model" premiered tonight to the same old shenanigans that made the previous 906 cycles so famous: a bunch of annoying girls compete against one another for an elusive shot at 15 minutes of fame, while Tyra Banks fills the rest of the time with nonsensical rants that seem to get lamer by the cycle.

Really, Tyra is going to have to work extra hard to make this cycle worth watching, because as of right now ANTM is starting to show signs of fatigue. Once again, they've put together a group of 20 girls, none of whom would make it past security at New York Fashion Week. How they even made it to 20 is beyond me, since by now these girls should know the odds of success post-ANTM are slim to none.

Case in point: last cycle's winner, Jaslene, who made a special appearance during tonight's premiere. Her biggest success as a model? The cover of Latina magazine. Good for her, I guess, but if I heard that while still in the running towards becoming America's next top model that would be my cue to head for the hills -- or the nearest modeling agency.

And what's worse is that even the novelty of Tyra Banks is starting to wear off. Sure, she was hilarious in previous cycles (lest we forget the now infamous "WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU!!!" fallout) but now that she's making a fool of herself 5 days a week on "The Tyra Banks Show" watching her try to recapture the magic here reeks of redundance.

But I digress. And to be fair, Jenah is actually kind of pretty - at least I think it was Jenah.

Still, it's going to take a lot more than one pretty girl to keep me interested as the cycle continues.



They sure were ... weird looking.

Well, kids, I think it's finally happened. I am officially too old for this show. Not only am I a couple of years older than the oldest girl in this episode, but all of these contestants seem like bug-eyed, whiny 12-year-olds who'd be better suited bossing peers around on Kid Nation. In addition to the pre-pubescent attitudes, this crop of models look particularly malnourished, which is more than enough to put me off my pizza. In addition to that, part of the fun of watching ANTM through the years has been seeing pretty girls get their comeuppance. Again, like Kid Nation, it's just not fun to watch children get their feelings hurt.

However, the biggest problem this show is facing is that of any reality show in it's 9 billionth cycle a la Top Model: The contestants are too savvy. Think about it. This gaggle of girls have been watching the show for four years -- since they were 14 in some cases. They know the stereotypes this show casts: the quirky girl, the reserved girl, the girl who has overcome hardships, the girl from the ghetto, the bitch, etc. THEY'RE ON TO YOU. They know who you're looking for and that's who they try and be. I mean really, last year, the runner-up was a RUSSIAN MAIL ORDER BRIDE, for Christ's sake. They know the producer's want kitsch. They want quirk, they want drama, and these girls are trying to give it from day one.

Which, honestly? Is boring.

Which is why one of the few interesting people in the premiere (and thankfully, I suppose, the rest of the season) is Heather. While she suffers from Asperger's Syndrome (ANTM does love a good story), she came across as the kind of girl you ignored in high school. The quiet one in the back of science class who doodled in her notebook, lost in her own world, and because of this she seems like a genuine person, not just a personality. It seems likely she was bullied into trying out for the show by family and friends and that's so much more interesting than the rest of the prima donnas rounding out the rest of the competition.

But I'd be remiss to not mention the biggest prima donna of them all: Miss Tyra. I swear, they had to host this episode on a cruise ship because it was the only thing large enough to cart around her ego.

Andy is absolutely right, it's not enough that the winner of this goes on to, well, nothing, there's also the fact that TB attempts to make the title of America's Next Top Model into something akin to, I dunno, Leader of the Free World.

The first thing she said after naming the last of the 13 contestants was to tell them that they had made it this far not because they would make good top models, but also, because they would be good role models. Is she serious? Because the last girl she named was a stripper. Left in the cast-offs were a bartender trying to improve her life and a girl that had been molested throughout her upbringing. What kind of message is THAT sending, TB?

ANTM is just continually trying to have it both ways. It wants to be good trashy fun, with name-calling and hair-pulling, but also wants to be seen as a guiding light for the youth of America, with name-calling and hair-pulling, I guess.

I'm convinced that if they just chose one of the two, it would be a much more satisfactory show, but what do I know? Ratings go up even as my interest wanes. Let's hope this plays out better than I expect it to. At least we have makeovers to look forward to? (ooh! My favorite episode. -- ed.)

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