| We could've told her: screaming at the stylist---even though she's forcing you to wear a blaze-orange camp shirt, for God's sake---might be the right thing to do, might feel like sweet vindication, might get you lots of camera time, but it can only end badly. Our beloved plus-size contender for America's Next Top Model, the boisterous Toccara, was booted last week. We're sorry to see her go, but we can now enjoy that great schadenfreudelicious phenomenon of reality TV: watching a bunch of ectomorphic people you don't like rip each other apart to win a dubious prize.
What's awesome about ANTM is that the criteria the contestants are judged on runs the gamut from arbitrary to ri-damn-diculous. Modeling itself is, by definition, about qualities the average human doesn't tend to possess: well-above-average height, well-below-average weight, fortuitous arrangement of bones, proportioned limbs and features, tiny pores and no shame whatsoever. As model trainer J. Alexander notes in the show's season premiere, "When a girl walks in, the main thing I'm looking for is her DNA." But what makes a model different from a pretty girl built like a beanpole? We've been watching the show devotedly and frankly, we still have no freakin' idea, and we get the feeling nobody really knows.
Each week, the girls get some vapid advice from a specialist, undergo some strange challenge, have their photos taken and then go before a panel of judges to be told the various ways in which they're inadequate. Model Tyra Banks is the Donald Trump of the show---and we think that tells you all you need to know about the brainpower involved. Tyra hosts, issues challenges (via "TyraMail"---yes, that's really what they call it), regularly drops in to visit the contestants and narrates each episode's intro. She also has to wrangle the panel, and what a cabinet of curiosities it is. Besides the cadaverous British photographer, the squat little style editor with his squat little Pomeranian (no, that's not an entendre; he actually brings his dog), the specialist of the week and Tyra, there's Janice Dickinson.
Janice, who is apparently contractually required to be introduced as "the world's first supermodel," was, in fairness, pretty major in the 70s. She's still got the build of a model, but we strongly suspect that's because Janice hasn't taken a solid dump in about 30 years, and that has got to mess with your mind. In Janice's case, it makes her prone to bizarre pronouncements, excessive plastic surgery and an enthusiasm for making bird noises. Janice is, in short, great TV.
But Janice is pretty well-matched by some of the contestants. Our inner MLK is pleased to see that the remaining girls include a white snotty pretentious bitch and a black snotty pretentious bitch. Whitebread Amanda reminds us every episode that she's legally blind while Afrocentric YaYa reminds us every episode that she went to an Ivy League university. What we're torn on is whether it's more obnoxious to announce with obvious pride that your son was conceived on Sept. 11, 2001, or to compare murder to carving a message in a pan of brownies. If it were up to us, the two of them would go at it gladiator-style, then the survivor would have to battle Janice. Ratings gold, we tell ya.
Minus such fantastic entertainment, though, we're quite happy watching the girls snipe at each other, pile on the clown makeup for their photo shoots and utter such the kind of introspection that can only come from the truly self-absorbed, such as, "I was in denial about my snout, but now I know." It's that kind of genius that keeps us going back to the imbecilic arms of reality TV.