Sunday, October 08, 2006

America's Next Top Model (Cycle 7) - 7x03 "The Girl Who Goes To Texas"

So ANTM's self-conscious self-referentiality has come to a head with Coryn, Rebecca, April, Camille, Mercedes, Brittany, Shannon, and Bre all making appearances, possibly because the girls in the present cycle aren't up to snuff. Well, probably not, but when does the Evil Diva get eliminated in the third episode? But more to the point, when the show interrupted its elimination judging with J. and Tyra's gospel revival what's-it, it's run out of ideas and has to turn the camera on itself, as opposed to the girls.

Back to Monique. She acts (and gets built up) as one of the vilest villains that the show has ever had, but she took such weak photos and generally acted so princessy/Chosen One-ish that she was never a viable threat to win the competition. For a child of God, she should've been bringing the fierce, but with a bite nowhere near the level of her bark, Mo' was merely a spectacular flameout rather than a memorable villain in some cycle-long narrative arc. And besides, smearing her cooch-germs on Melrose was already so last week.

1. CariDee (1) -- She's the most refreshing girl on the show because she doesn't seem to have a self-conscious nerve in her body. She's not afraid to look silly, stupid, ugly, weird, zombie, inept, or like a man. Why any of her weirdness isn't painful to watch is because she seems chill with embracing her inner freak.

2. AJ (2) -- Still hot, but needs more personality.

3-10. The rest of them.

Addendum: A Typology of Good and Lousy Reality Programming

I knew that for some reason, this post seemed shorter than the post I had envisioned, and that's because I forgot to mention reality programs that envelop the viewer into their narratives and programs that distance and/or alienate their viewers from their narratives.

The first (and better) type of program envelopes the viewer who thusly interacts with the show, typically on a vicarious level. Viewerly interaction principally involves rooting for a certain contestant and (often in conjunction) rooting against a certain contestant, both of which suggest that the viewer has emotionally staked herself into the outcome of the show. Both the viewer and the show get something out of this exchange: the show gets eyeballs, and the viewer is moved emotionally. Sort of the Dasein of reality tv shows.

The second and lesser type of program doesn't provide the viewer an emotional ingress, possibly because the show fails to consistently define an emotional center. More crudely put, the show doesn't successfully establish protagonists for whom viewers can root. Left emotionally barren, viewers can only approach the show from an embittered, critical perspective. This perspective allows the viewer to decode and approach the program critically while watching that program.

Note that I'm using critical in the non-pejorative sense and that the first type of show permits critical perspectives, which, however, are often subsumed into enthusiastic fandom.

All of which is to say in a long-winded and schematic way that a viewer isn't as emotionally invested into a show that's not as good. But also, perhaps, when the "seams" of the show are so obvious (i.e. here's the part where the girls whine about their makeovers, here's the part where someone acts like a lunatic diva, etc.), the show slides over from type 1 to type 2. And therefore sucks.

Which is to say that the quality of the show depends proportionally to the quality of its contestants.

Indie rating: Murcof - "Ulysses"

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