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Thursday, October 05, 2006

America's Next Top Model Series Seven #1

Welcome, dear friends. It's back.

It has yet to prove itself, and the format seems to have as many new concepts in it as a packet of Corn Flakes, but here it is.
It'd better be a bumpy ride, I tells ya, because it's through gritted teeth that I'm going to have to call this the Dishwater Episode of America's Next Top Model. Show me all the shirtless photos of Nigel Barker you want (in fact, yes – do that) – the first episode is always a teensy bit dull. Nobody hates anyone yet, including me, but I've definitely pegged some contenders….

· Oh, my god! It's a flashbacking summary of Tyra Banks' career! Blah, blah, blah. Big hair. Big norks. Tyra's version of Blue Steel, which we'll call Chocolate Granite. Whatever. It's not the past Tyra we're interested in, it's the future Tyra – what bizarre, barely-containing outfits will she be wearing to eliminations? What hairdresser-took-the-brown-acid masterpieces of coiffure will she be sporting? What personality traits will she be brutally assassinating? And how many times will she wobble her over-exposed booty at the surely-blind-by-now cameraman? The answer to all: Heaps.

· The usual suspects are all here – Tyra of course, Mr Jay, who is still clutching onto platinum blonde like it's 1988, Miss Jay, who looks more and more like a kind of camel/Condoleezza Rice hybrid every series, and Nigel Barker, hereto known as Spunky Nigel, who I'm re-filling my underwear drawer for. No indications yet as to whether the pleasant but bor-hor-horing Twiggy will again be the fifth judge, but my fingers are tightly crossed for the reappearance of Janice Dickinson, world's first ever supermodel, biggest ever psycho b*tch, and Person Most Likely To Be Constructed Entirely of Synthetics By 2009.

· Another ANTM constant, which gives me an attack of the amuses every single series, is the odd, odd, collection of names that bored illiterate parents give their daughters. This year, in the 33 semi-finalists, we're introduced to Jaeda, Evita (who will, I'm sure, cry for me), Jaslene, Ginger, Eugena, Brittany, Anchal, A.J., Christian and Caridee. People, listen to me. When naming your child, it takes more than just shaking up Boggle cubes in a bag.

· Miss Jay meets the semi-finalists at the airport in a pilot's hat and a skirt, asking the modules to follow him towards a big blue bit of cardboard, where the girls are to "give 10 incredible poses" in their first ever photoshoot. Wait – I should start to say phrases like that as if I'm channelling Tyra – their First. Ever. Photoshoot. During this session, we're introduced to a few more of the hopefuls – A.J., who is a bit more rock n' roll than the others, and almost certainly this series' token Sexually Curious Module, Ginger, who has a lot of lips which seem to keep blood from flowing to her brain, and the thing or things that terrified me the most – twins. Now, I'm a twin myself, but I'm afraid that simply sharing a uterus with someone shouldn't give you any more rights and privileges in life than people who have the sense to have a single womb all to themselves. I guess Amanda and Michelle are pretty, in the same way that a damp sponge coated in flour is, and they're certainly thin, but this reeks so piquantly of Obvious Plot Manipulation that I'm feeling faint. The girls say matter-of-factly to camera that "there's not a lot of tall twin models". There's not a lot of pygmy ice-skaters, either. Your point?

· After the shoot, the modules all meet up on a hotel balcony to eat fruit and scream hysterically at stuff. Ron and Richard Harris, the twirling, gayer-than-Christmas twins (good lord) from last series swirl in and twirl out, to piercing appreciation from the girls, then a cataclysm of screams, tears, fluttering hands and jumping-up-and-down explodes as Tyra makes an appearance. She hosts the show. She drops in on the semi-finalists in every single series. You're semi-finalists. She's here. Woo.

· Our nearly-modules have one-on-three interviews with Tyra and The Jays, with the usual let's see you walk, let's see you talk, let's see your blue veiny body in a bikini rigmarole. Apart from Christian being able to re-create every Tyra Banks pose ever shot, Jaeda claiming that "the whole football team think I'm hot", Becky admitting she raises pigs, Angela claiming she went from Homeless to Homecoming Queen, Brittany tap-dancing and Caridee having a garter removed by Miss Jay's teeth, this segment was predictable pap – run in, say you're excited, walk, turn, pout, be fierce, leave. This series, no-one stands out so far as The Idiot, The Psychotic, The Haughty Beeyarch, or The Hyperactive. Where, oh where have all my stereotypes gone? Megan (aka Mollie-Sue clone from last series – Hi, Mollie-Sue!), throws in a disturbing sob story about being in a plane crash at age nine, in which her MOTHER DIED ON TOP OF HER, stopping her dying of hypothermia herself due to residual body-heat. Please don't give Megan a spot in the finals. How can I make scathing, catty comments about someone like that?!

· The modules are herded like stick-insects into the hotel foyer, and told that the first cut is about to be made – there are 21 magazines in the adjoining room, all with Tyra on the cover (yawn), with pictures of the 21 so-far-successful modules inside. GO! RUN! Like a frenetic pile of chopsticks, arms, legs and torsos mix in a frenzy of desperation. The successful girls cry. The unsuccessful girls cry. One of the rejects says through tears "I'm gonna keep on lovin' myself". No, dear. Try to get out of the house once in a while.

· The Jays throw the so-far-successfuls right into work with a photo shoot – the modules are led to a trough full of make-up and hair extensions, upon which they greedily feed for 15 minutes. Faces (and pants) drop when our gahls are told they'll be shot in the nuddy today – NUDE STRIP SHOT SHOCK! Ginger the token prude wails and moans about showing her privates, and only drops her towel momentarily for the photographer to snap two frames. Evita has a giggle about her TWO KIDS seeing her naked, the twins are pale and knobbly, and I hope one of the crew has been instructed to wipe down the posing platform between each sitting.

· Photo-shoot over, and the judges trawl through photographs to pick the final 13, and almost every photo makes me yelp with horror. Honestly, sometimes the Makeover Episode just can't come fast enough. The Fugly Twins get through, although Tyra calls their names at either end of the process, just to start the Plot Manipulation juggernaut rolling with some drama and suspense. Also chosen are Melrose (honey blonde, big lips), Jaeda (black/latino), Eugena (black, face a bit like a powerpoint), Brooke (white bread pretty, should stop rapping immediately), Anchal (Indian, long hair, pegged her as a princess), A.J. (short-haired, at least bi-curious), Christian (possibly has sense of humour, so no real place in the show), Megg (rock chick), Megan (Mollie-Sue look-alike), Caridee (blonde, possibly stupid), and Monique (black, gorgeous). More freakin' tears and hysteria. Jeez.

Like I said, the first episode is never totally inspiring – it's kind of like the foundation that future bitchiness and severe personality disorders are built upon.

Next week, the 13 finalists discover their new module castle, Monique "pees" on the bed, and Tyra "unleashes her inner demon", possibly by screaming. Setting. Wetting. Blood-letting.


Vanessa said...

Hey don't dis' Corn Flakes - they've recently gone Choc Malt!

shellity said...

Aaaaah... it's good to have modules back.

This week's most brilliant piece of imagery: "Like a frenetic pile of chopsticks...". Top stuff.

Even without Foxtel, I find myself hating Tyra more and more every time you write about her. I'm amazed it took me this long, but today I remembered a scene from Higher Learning (circa 1995), where her character gets shot by a sniper and lies, dying and bleeding from the mouth, in the arms of her boyfriend. This isn't relevant to anything - I merely enjoy conjuring the image.