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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

America's Next Top Model: "Petite Ninja Warriors"

Illustration for article titled iAmericas Next Top Model/i: Petite Ninja Warriors
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When Amelie said she was going to be gone this week and wanted someone to take over covering America’s Next Top Model for her, I think we all knew that it was going to be me writing the show up this week. Let’s face it. This is my favorite show in the history of television. I await every episode with bated breath, my home is decorated entirely in Tyra gear (“Who’s your REAL love?” my wife asks in her moments of anger, and I cannot answer!), and there’s nothing I’m more concerned about than the plight of short models in our modern world. America’s Next Top Model and I were made for each other, and the chance to cover it this week is a long-held dream.

All of the above is a lie. My wife used to enjoy America’s Next Top Model, but she hasn’t watched it in a few seasons because – her words – “It’s like any other reality show. The talent gets to be less and less, and the host and premise get to be spread too thin, and it wore out its welcome quicker than other reality shows because of Tyra’s gigantic head.” I gave up on it somewhere back in, like, 2006 or 2007, figuring that despite the presence of several attractive women and occasional camp value, there just wasn’t anything in here that several other reality shows weren’t doing several million times better. Also, America’s Next Top Model (I like using the full name because it knocks four words out of the word count every time), like every other show on The CW, seems to take place in some dumber, more vapid parallel reality that I can barely stomach visiting for 40 minutes and change every week. The surest way to deal with any CW show is to mock it mercilessly, which is why you have Amelie on this, but I, readers, do not seem to possess the mockery bone.

So, anyway, let’s see what was up on tonight’s episode of America’s Next Top Model.

All I had really heard about this season before this episode came from The Soup, so I mostly just knew that Tyra had taken it upon herself to rid the world of prejudice against short models. While I couldn’t imagine that anyone ever in the world has been worried about this as an actual issue, it was an interesting enough hook to build a reality season around, I guess. I had also heard about that thing where Tyra played a superhero, but the less said about that, the better. So I was ready to give this all a chance, not even realizing that the entirety of the show seemed to be about how hard it is in the world to be a short girl.

It may be hard to be a short girl. I would have no idea. My wife is a short girl, and she says it’s not all that difficult, but maybe since we live in a hipster wonderland, she’s just never encountered brutal heightist sentiments. Anyway, approximately the entire first ten minutes of this episode was given over to the models waxing philosophic about how hard it is to live in this world and be short and/or how hard it was to be a model and be short. I get that part of the reason for watching reality shows is to watch vapid people have huge egos and go on about them so you can feel morally superior to them, but really? Short girls? There’s a SIGN that SAYS you MUST BE SHORTER THAN THIS TO ENTER THIS HOUSE? Really? For fuck’s sake.

Anyway, this episode involved going on go-sees, which is always a chance to see that the models have developed no social skills whatsoever. Since the model talent pool has gotten so diluted that apparently all of these girls come from random compounds in Idaho or something, this had the potential to be even more awkward than usual. In addition, the show made a big deal out of the fact that the models would have to use a map of Los Angeles instead of a GPS or something and that they would have to be back on time, which pretty much guaranteed that at least some of the models would have trouble reading the map and at least some of the models would be back late. Reality television has apparently taught me well, because while the models seemed pretty OK with their map skills, even despite having no GPS, Sundai and Rae came back late and got chewed out by Wilhelmina Guy. (Later, Tyra self-righteously talked about how when she was starting out, she had to drive her car around and didn’t have a GPS. I don’t think not having a GPS is the height of non-glamour like she seems to think it is.)

Naturally, the best thing about all of this is seeing the models having to leave the house and interact with the general public and/or titans of the fashion industry, but I felt curiously short-changed of this this year, even though we got to see Laura attempt an accent she called “Hoodrat” (apparently being a big fan of The Hold Steady or something) and watched Rae put on her best Fargo (or, in her case, probably Drop Dead Gorgeous) by launching into the world’s worst Minnesotan accent. The girls seem awkward this year, yeah, but they also seem really shy, so the go-sees ended up being less enthralling than they probably could have been.

After all of that, the models – who apparently now live in a James Bond supervillain secret lair of evil, if the giant vault door on the Tyra mail mailbox is any indication – learned they would be getting some secret weapons. Naturally, they jumped immediately to Victoria’s Secret when they heard “secret weapons” when they should have been jumping to the skeezy medieval store with replica swords that seems to crop up in the same wing as Victoria’s Secret in every mall not yet crushed by the commercial real estate bust in America. For, lo, the models had to twirl around on wires and pick up assorted weapons and act like they were badasses when they clearly weren’t.

I can’t say I liked any of the photos all that much, though I thought Brittany and Jennifer’s were pretty fun. Nicole, who seems to have exactly one facial expression, tone of voice and personality, ended up winning, and I can’t say that disappoints me, since she’s pretty and all, but this ended up feeling deeply anti-climactic. Back when I actually watched the show, it felt like it did a much better job of explaining just why some photos were bad and why some were good. That time now seems to mostly be taken up by Tyra talking about her boobs in the current incarnation of the show. Kara had to go, and, again, I wasn't too broken up, since her photos were pretty bad. But maybe some of you were really taken with her.

So, anyway, you’ll all probably be glad to have Amelie back next week because I think I’ve conclusively decided after watching this episode that America’s Next Top Model has even stopped doing the things it used to do well in anything approaching a competent fashion. It’s very likely – nay, completely likely – that this show is not for me, but at least it felt like it was trying at one time to appeal to the kinds of people who would hear secret weapon and think, “Maybe that means a death ray” instead of “Maybe we’re going to wear lingerie!” but that could just be my faulty memory of a happier, simpler time.

Stray observations:

  • Not sure how I feel about the "sad" version of the theme song that plays as the girl leaves the house, but maybe you've all been over that before.
  • "I know the judges are being really tough on these short girls."
  • "I call dogs scruffy, like homeless dogs on the street."
  • "This is a hooking apparatus. These are all stabbing apparatus."
  • "The light loves your face, Brittany, and you love the light." Good Lord, this sounds like something Benjamin Linus would say on Lost.

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