Watching the premiere of the umpteenth cycle/season of America's Next Top Cover Girl Wal-Mart Display For Two Weeks last night, I felt something I never ever expected to feel: sympathy for Tyra Banks. We, as a nation, are now in our 14th search in 7 years for our elusive Top Model (where the fuck is she??), and this show is clearly tired of looking. Makeovers on the first day? A Facebook, excuse me, MyFierce.com theme for the semi-finals? Perez Hilton for no reason? (Although what is the reason for Perez Hilton?) First stop: Madame Tussaud's? It's obvious that Tyra and Bankable Productions are burnt out on ANTM—and I completely understand that because I am burnt out on writing about ANTM. That's what happens to human beings (and giant inflatable egos encased in skin—Hi, Tyra!) when they try to manufacture or examine hour-long rides on a gravitron of ridiculousness sponsored by Cover Girl virtually every week for several years.
So I'm sorry to say that I don't think I'll be covering ANTM this cycle/season—at least not every episode. I'll check back in from time to time—the go-sees will definitely be re-capped—but I need a break from this show as much as this show needs to take a break. (I mean, a cliffhanger right before the photo shoot? And we don't even get to see Andre Leon Talley swoop on set in his finest designer graduation robe? Give me a break, and also take one, Tyra. Please.)
But on to last night's episode, "Be My Friend, Tyra!" That's a sentence that Tyra hears, or rather that Tyra thinks she hears all the time. A waiter approaches to take her order in a restaurant: "Be my friend, Tyra!" A gusty wind barrels down 19th Street: "Be my friend, Tyra!" Tyra wanders into traffic and a bus stops short and lays on the horn: "Be my friend, Tyra!" Tyra knows that everyone and everything wants to be Tyra's friend—even if that means listening to Tyra translate the Internet into Ty-speak. BeFierce.com profiles, and Ty-Chats, and social "netwalkings", oh ugh. It's almost as if Tyra just realized that these computer thingies everyone's talking about are here to stay. In fact, it's exactly like that. Why else would Tyra Banks call her website a "Magaline"?
I digress. So Tyra greets the girls wearing her finest black blazer with waist cut-outs, and the girls shriek and shriek, as is the ANTM custom whenever the woman who hosts the show appears before them. Not to be outdone by the shrieks of the others, one of the girls, Alasia (which is a human name, and surprisingly not a cholesterol-lowering medication), shrieks, beats the ground and rips off her own wig. Tyra's ego visibly expands (oh, so that's what the cut-outs were there for) and it's obvious that Alasia is going to be rewarded for her show of Ty-votion with a spot in the Top 12.
Yes, dun-dun-da! There are only supposed to be 12 contestants this season. This is what passes for a twist on ANTM. But there is another twist to the twist! As it turns out, there will be 13 contestants after all—dun dun dum!—and Tyra informs the girls that they'll all meet the mystery contestant when Tyra tries to hurl herself into the loving arms of her only MyFierce friends from a balcony at Madame Tussaud's in New York. (Okay, so Tyra doesn't actually say all that, but it's implied.)
In New York, the girls are greeted by Perez Hilton outside the wax museum in Times Square because that's where Perez Hilton always hangs out. Once inside, Tyra introduces the girls to the 13th contestant, a run-down ragamuffin named Ren, and it becomes immediately apparent why Tyra was keeping her (and her origin) a mystery: Tyra clearly found her living in a dumpster outside Bankable Productions. She looks like Juliana Hatfield in that homeless angel episode of My So Called Life but with darker hair, and she appears to be going through withdrawal, so that should make for some killer photos.
But Ren isn't the only "very special contestant" Tyra's dug up this year. There's also Naduah, a bald-headed former cult member; Jessica, a teen mom who got pregnant when she had sex for the first time; Krista, who is 24 and therefore ancient; Alasia and Angelea, who are already battling for the title of "this season's bitch;" and Gabrielle, who (along with Angelea) is bi-racial and whose platform is "talking about being bi-racial all the time."
Since Tyra is burnt out, all the girls got their makeovers, ahem Ty-overs, on the first day at Shane from The L Word's salon. Everyone was given the ANTM makeover usual: blonde girls got chocolate brown hair; a brunette got blonde hair; girls who prized their long hair were rewarded with cropped bobs or Cynthia Nixon's hair from Sex & The City: Season 2; One girl (Angelea) was given a full head of fake hair; Two girls with long-ish straight-ish hair were given curly fros; and the girl with no hair had her eyebrows bleached because why not? The only two Ty-Over wild cards were Simone The Sorority Girl, who got Rihanna's hair (only because Tyra probably thought it would make Simone cry); and Krista, who got…wait for it…a detachable pony-tail, which might be the most proudly stupid ANTM makeover yet.
In fact, maybe if Tyra had decided to make this season the pony-tail season ("I'm changing this industry for girls who only wear pony-tails!"), and given all the girls detachable pony-tails, then that would have forced me to recap this cycle/season every week. Unfortunately, though, she didn't.
—"It's not a stare, it's the 'bitch, please' look." Clearly, Angelea
—How long until the judges call Krista "not so fresh"?
—Apparently, it's the American Apparel cycle/season.