Tuesday, 14 October 2008

America's Next Top Phonies, Jerkwads, and Moosehunters

Due to tardiness and the vice-like grip of the work of art known as The Shield (seventh season PWNs all other shows), it took us way longer than expected to finish the tenth cycle of the World's Best Reality Show, aka America's Next Top Model, even though it was much more entertaining than the dreary eighth and ninth cycles. Even weirder, it was fun even though we weren't rooting for anyone, except for a week when I suddenly thought gloomy punk freako Lauren was the most awesome of all, until she suddenly started screaming at all of the other contestants like a psycho. Other than her, the most entertainment was provided by Dominique, who was an idiot and an egotist, but her photoshoots and adverts were so hilariously misjudged that it was worth the pain of her endless solipsistic monologues to see the crazy genius of her modelling (here is an example of her in a pair of meat knickers).

Even so, the challenges were more interesting than usual, and the chemistry in the house was better than the previous two cycles, which were both snore-inducing. However, the finale was a shocking travesty of justice, with mediocre model-in-training Whitney winning over the transparently superior (though incomprehensible) Anya, seemingly just so Tyra could make a big deal about a plus-size model winning the competition. No matter how heartening it is to see a "full-figured model" (Tyra's phrase) win the competition, and it is very heartening, it would have been even better if she'd been any good, and if her body had contained even one honest bone. Here's her cringe-inducing Italian CoverGirl advert, at the 1:30 mark, which earned her little praise (while she's not as bad as Dominique or Lauren, at least those are hilarious).

Despite being repeatedly told that she was coming across as a ridiculous phoney with an off-putting fake laugh, she would not stop reverting to her overlaugh and cutesiness. Previously, not doing as Tyra has commanded is a crime that has put paid to the ambitions of numerous contestants, but for some reason Whitney's inability to knock her hokey shtick off was ignored in the final weeks. Just to make me even more annoyed, the finale was rendered shambolic by the farce that was the season overview, which usually compares a significant percentage of the photos of each finalist, but this year was truncated due to the dearth of Whitney shots that could compare with Anya's professional pictures. That Anya lost because her accent is odd and her final runway walk was not 100% perfect is bullshit pie. Watching the finale and getting that shock nearly ruined our holiday, it left me that flabbergasted. It's like the Saleisha controversy all over again, except Saleisha was at least talented.

Bitching about Whitney's win is not the sole reason that I'm posting about ANTM. Early in the cycle I was distracted by Claire, the dive-bombing mom with too much self-confidence and zero personality. That's par for the course on this show (though usually the dive-bombing doesn't come into it), but for some reason she reminded me of David Byrne.

I appreciate that I'm the only person who can see that, and the neuronal mishap that created that connection is not only confusing but offensive (to this Byrne fan, at least). Later in the season, as Whitney defied logic and justice and remained in the running as superior models fell by the wayside (Katarzyna, maybe hyper-photogenic savant Lauren, that is if she didn't walk like a palsied hobo), I started to get the feeling that she looked a lot like someone famous. Not trusting my brain anymore, I tried to forget about it, but the elusive connection picked at my consciousness. Finally, in the penultimate episode, it hit me; Whitney is Lina Lamont for the 21st Century.

Now we've started the eleventh cycle, and there a few pre-makeover lookylikeys already (bear in mind we've not yet seen the makeover episode, which might change things drastically). Most peculiar is Marjorie's downright freaky similarity to child actor Barret Oliver from D.A.R.Y.L., which I at first thought was my brain malfunctioning again, but upon mentioning it to Canyon she also saw it, and then, a couple of days later, I found that AV Club commenter L'il Un said the same thing after this customarily hilarious Amelie Gillette recap.

She even acts like Barret Oliver, her nervous tics flashing across her face so rapidly it's as if she's running through his entire Neverending Story performance on fast forward. Not quite as dramatic, but during her photoshoot, scatty Samantha was channelling 70s era Bonnie Tyler.

Marjorie and Samantha seem likeable enough so far, though Marjorie's skittish behaviour is making us equally jumpy. I'm being cautious in my praise as I've been burned before by siding with contestants who have turned out to be horrible and catty. While she was my favourite for the majority of the series, I can never forgive cycle five contestant Bre for the Granola Bar Incident, even though that gave us this wonderfully dry Wikipedia comment:

Bre was involved in a memorable argument with fellow competitor [Nicole Linkletter] when she accused Nicole of stealing her granola bar, and retaliated by disposing of all of Nicole's energy drinks. The girls refused to talk civily until they reconciled during a day out in London when they were paired together, originally to their dismay. The identity of who stole the granola bar remains unknown.

Still, despite my initial caution they, along with the apparently saintly Analeigh, are infinitely better than the bigots Sharaun and Clark, who respectively look like a vampiric Amanda Bearse from Fright Night...

...and good ol' Southern boy Strom Thurmond.

Hannah, the ignoramus from Alaska, has yet to visually remind me of anybody, other than a young, dopey Beth Orton (sorry Beth Orton!). However her soul seems to be a match for Sarah Palin, right down to her incurious mind, out-of-her-depthness, parochial ignorance, fear of the other, and tedious moose anecdotes.

Oh, sorry, I meant "small-town values" (if I lived in a small town I would be really pissed off with people stating that these values are representative of everyone there). I'll take it as a good omen if the depressingly beleaguered Hannah gets kicked off the show (bear in mind I'm avoiding spoilers, so I'm aware it might have happened already). It would work out well for her, as she can go back to her home town, where she can avoid "black music", gang violence (with gang meaning "black", it seemed), and the playful lesbianism of the third episode, which only offended me (a non-small towner with BAD VALUES!) in that Elina appears to have terrible taste in women, what with chasing after the awful Clark instead of someone nicer. Peer beyond her looks to the cold heart beneath, Elina! You're too good for her!

1 comment:

Masticator said...

I live in a small town, and Palin's values are shared by at least 95% of my neighbours. They sure hate the blacks and the gays and the, er, moose! (And by "hate" I mean "are terrified by".)

I don't take "small-town values" to mean "values universally held by the residents of small towns", but "values predominantly held by the residents of small towns that make the residents who don't hold them cleave even more defiantly to the values they hold".