Friday, October 13, 2006

America's Next Top Model (Cycle 7) - 7x04 "The Girl Who Joined the Circus"

Another reason why this season is rolling in the sucksauce, but which I forgot to mention last week: this cycle has put the girls in more humiliating challenges than ever. Of course, ANTM has historically humiliated its contestants -- since Pygmalionesque Tyra makes it her business to break the girls down so that she can remold them in her image -- but I don't think that the show has ever gone outs of its way to humiliate the girls so publicly. First (if you don't count the naked skyscraper rooftop shoot), the wobbly-pier runway show, which existed solely to dunk the girls into the water, was filmed in front of a live, captive audience. Second, the challenge in this episode, where the contestants (you'll notice I didn't say "models") were instructed to pose as living statues in front of a small gallery of actual people. While this challenge wasn't as bad as the previous runway shoot, it still took place at a time when the contestants weren't "ready" to be models yet, sort of like putting them out there only half-clothed and then letting clueless bystanders gape at them.

I don't know about other people, but I prefer my reality programs to be hermetically sealed off and separated clearly from the real world until the winner has been remolded by Tyra and is proclaimed ready to debut in the reality of the real world. Neat and ordered reality TV here, messy and unresolvable real reality there. (Put another way, televised reality programs (re)present a structured and ordered reality that's more fantastical and over-determined than real life, but a reality that viewer's can still identify with or aspire to.)

So you can imagine my disappointment so far with how this cycle has been edited poorly; a lot of episodes so far have had some technical editing problem, an example of which occurred in the last episode during judging. Tyra had just finished speaking with Megg, whose tears showed just how badly her confidence had been shattered. Next up came carefree CariDee, all smiles and bubbly "What, me worry?" personality. Tyra started speaking to CariDee, but then the show cut back to still-sniffling Megg, so I was all, "Nuh uh!" Megg's segment was over but it nonetheless spilled over onto and overlapped with Caridee's segment. I don't know if I'm justified in blaming the writers strike for the bad editing, but that's an easy target. WRITERS COME BACK.

Top Model Containment Index
1. CariDee (1) -- Rocked her shots as though she wasn't aware she had an elephant nose on -- like, duh she would. But I'm still waiting for hilarious jewels of hilarity to spill out of her mouth.
2. AJ (2) -- AJ did the double-fist pump when she found out she was going to be the cannibal. Um, higher aspirations, AJ?
3-7. Rest of the girls except Jaeda (3-10)
8. Melrose (amorphously boring) -- If the biggest complaints against the newly installed villain is that she talks behind people's backs and that she's an annoying killjoy, this cycle is already as old and tired as Melrose's makeup-less face. After all, a great villain needs to be equal parts flamboyant and outrageous.
9. Jaeda (androgynously indeterminate) -- I wasn't done listening to Megg rock 'n' roll, but I am done with whatever Jaeda brings to the show (i.e. nothing), especially when she was certain that Anchal was faking her insecurities. Free advice for Jaeda: watch for AJ the Maneater.

Indie rating: Nelly Furtado - "Maneater"

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