Thursday, November 15, 2007

A small water-cooler-based diversion

Last night, my dearest and I hadn't the time for a full block of Heroes... so we compromised. We watched America's Next Top Model, and I decided to open a discussion for that while we wait, based partially on the suggestion Sheila made in this wonderfully psycho thread.

Some background - they start with a bunch of girls, and winnow them to 13 to live in "the house" and start the process of photo shoots, challenges, etc. All the while, Tyra Banks and her company of mostly insane associates critique, instruct, and amuse; eventually one model each week is cut - and must IMMEDIATELY go back to the house and leave.

Those, by the way, are Tyra's words. For those of you who are huge Idol fans and are trying to get a handle on Tyra, here's the deal - she's sort of like a sober Paula: just as crazy, waaaay over the top, but at every moment, perfectly at home with herself. You buy every moment with Tyra, and unlike Paula you never pity her or watch through your fingers. She is totally in command.

Her company is a good match for her. That's really what it reminds me of - like, Tim Burton or Christopher Guest has a "company" of actors he almost always works with - this is Tyra's company, her set cast, and without them there's no show. Three of the judges are always the same: Twiggy (always introduced as "fashion ICON Twiggy" by Tyra - I think it's on her driver's license that way); Nigel Barker (longtime fashion bigwig); and J Alexander, invariably called "Miss Jay." This season he's been sporting an ever-growing Afro that probably forces him to enter rooms sideways. Tyra's the fourth steady judge, and the fifth spot rotates, usually featuring the photographer or consultant that worked with the models that week.

Now, Tyra and Ms. Jay bring the crazy, so Nigel and Twiggy are the anchors. The fifth guy varies - this week is was a stolid, boring fellow who runs the US arm of Elite Model Management. We also get regular contributions from Mister Jay and Benny Ninja.

So - the pressure's been building. We had one model flake out and decide to leave the show, leading to one of Tyra's best lines ever: "Nothing is less appealing to me than a quitter... so, you are EXCUSED." Got ten degrees colder in my living room. BEGONE from us, you QUITTER. She wasn't just excused, she was banished. We've also got some clear lines drawn in the house, with many of the models getting cattier by the moment about Heather, the teacher's pet of the show thus far, but also one of the most successful contestants.

This week we were treated to Amateur Design Hour, where each model became the "muse" of one design student, who modeled a dress based on a short meeting and discussion, one-on-one. Bianca took the opportunity to turn up the huff, she didn't like it, didn't like the dress, didn't like the designer (an Asian girl with a strong accent who knew the English vocabulary, but was spotty on the grammar). Heather, who told her designer that she was a "fire sign," wound up inspiring him to make her an ocean-themed dress. But most of the other models were pleased.

They had to introduce the designer briefly, and then walk the runway. A couple of them botched the lines, none worse than poor Heather, who let it get into her head and affect her for the rest of the week. That brought the lines out real quickly - a few of the models rallied to reassure her; Bianca (lead HATER) grinned like her birthday when the EMM-US dude cut into her performance.

From there, the models got home, Heather got bumped off the shower line, and reacted quite poorly. They all talked it out in a group, yay, but more cattiness in the private interviews. It's remorseless in that house, y'all. Un. com. pro. mising. I think Heather misses Sarah, who was bumped last week (and I did NOT agree, boo hiss).

Anyway, the shoot is in the desert next to Corey Hart's Fiero, which was set on fire. (But he will NE-vuh suh-REN-DUUUH!) The girls had to pose next to the Fiero, and I got confused. Don't look like models, but don't hide the garment, and look frustrated, but look elegant... I was reminded of Tyra's "squint wide" line to one of the girls. They all talk like this. There is no escape. Fleeing is pointless.

Chantal, who moved on at Sarah's expense, was very good this time, despite my booing and hissing. (Snark from Ladybug - "I knew it! You just want to marry Sarah instead of me!") Heather, again, underperformed, but has done so well for the rest of the competition that Ladybug and I agreed that she would be safe. Ambreal took what to me looked like an excellent picture, but the judges shot it down - great shot of HER, but not a great modeling shot. Never looked at it that way before. They had a point - she was scrunched up, scowling at Corey's flaming car, but you couldn't really see the dress. The more "theatrical" poses that made the clothing jump out were the poses that earned the most praise, except for Huffy Bianca, who got the best line of the week out of Miss Jay - "She looks like SHE set the car on fire." I have to admit it was a great picture, boo hiss.

And who went home? No peeking! But please, feel free to talk about it.

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