America's Next Top Model is back, and it's bringing more of the same than ever yeaaahhh!
I mean, it's the same as it ever was, better ever so more. Maybe you've been paying closer attention to me and noticed when it stopped being fresh (cycle 2?) and became comfortable self-parody, and this cycle isn't shy about laying on Tyra's brand of excess from the first episode with the pointless Star Trek ripoff, Jay's ridiculous hair (if you ever wanted to know what an orange person looked like when he's melting...), and forcing the girls (the semifinalists, no less!) to work out their open-mouthed bad-acting chops/being amazed at Tyra et al's amazing transporter/post-production editing technology.
Excess even reaches the makeup of the cast, which is already swelling the Top Model's usual quota with misfits and stank bitches. Like, in the space of two episodes, ShaRaun was building an excellent body of work to establish herself as the cycle's villain, yet Tyra was comfortable enough with Clark that she could easily afford to lose the erstwhile Brittney at the earliest possible convenience.
Actually, ShaRaun's elimination shines a light on the show's moral calculus. All reality programs have a moral dimension which most commonly takes the form of who deserves what. For example, ShaRaun seemed to deserve her elimination in large part for her nasty comments about Isis -- karmic retribution, if you will. However, her elimination probably didn't actually result from reality karma since everything we get to see is edited together well after it actually happened and to which the judges presumably aren't privy. More likely, ShaRaun sucked independent of her moral deportment but she also happened to be caught on camera saying a lot of heinous things. Subsequently, the editors decided to tacitly and retroactively justify ShaRaun's elimination by showing her in all of her offensiveness. Clark, meanwhile, will probably settle in as the designated villain and as such will happily accumulate all the bad karma that's due her, and once she gets eliminated, we'll all cheer -- unless Elina has by that time seduced Clark into some decadent tolerance.
Clear on the other side of likability -- well, as I measure likability -- we've got Marjorie, McKey, Isis, and Hannah, in roughly that descending order, and no surprise, each one is some kind of social misfit (or an outsider in Hannah's case) which explains why I've instantly marked them as this cycle's favorites.
French, short haired, cute, and crippingly awkward? Hello, crush!
I hope that's her mom's maiden name because otherwise it's entirely stupid. But despite that, and despite what looks like some questionable fighting form, and despite her tragic haircut and the crooked set of her mouth, and the likelihood that she'll never figure out how to pose, my god she's gorgeous. Bonus points for her big heart and open mind accepting Isis as a housemate.
The biggest problem for me is that she's kind of boring; I don't doubt that Tyra has every intent of making a patient saint out of her, thereby draining Isis of any personality.
I'm willing to overlook her provincialist bigotry re: Isis because Hannah's a product of actual, literal provincialism (oh god, she'll vote for Palin, won't she?)... and also because she's absurdly adorable.
Strangely enough, half of my favorites have seriously busted teeth. How far I've come since the toothy days of Jenah... In any case, they're misfits, one and all, which is sort of a microcosmic regress of the reality genre: where the show itself takes a small segment of the population some place hyperreal/unreal/reality real, I usually mark out the weirdos and freaks and mentally populate them on my own private Island of Misfit Toys, like this was high school again or something.
So between the villains and the misfits, we have the nondescript non-entities, into which I'm including Sheena, who disappointed me immediately: perhaps she didn't want to rock any boats especially because the contestants were all getting to know each other, but I wish she would have corrected the one girl who asked if she was oriental.
Indie rating: Mogwai - "Danphe and the Brain"