OK, so even I have to admit-- last week was disappointing, in terms of bloggage.
But, here is my list of excuses. Last week was filled with business travel, then when we got back, everything was broken. And by everything, I mean the following: my iPod, my wireless card, my J & J laptop (an even longer story), the wireless in the house, and seemingly everything else I own. And I had to open the mail, do all the laundry, pay the bills, deal with some co-op board stuff, AND try to catch up on witty Facebook banter. All of these things are important, ok? I know! I was doing all of them!
But then, we got some bad news, and then some more bad news. I will respect the privacy of my friends by not telling you what it was exactly, but let's say that one dear friend is suffering a medical issue, and another lost a parent suddenly, practically on the same day. Perhaps I was using all of this as a reason to procrastinate. I think I've mentioned before, I hand-write everything in a notebook, then transcribe and edit it in my computer. This means I essentially write everything twice, and sometimes the proposition of this is daunting. Especially when you're kind of sad about business travel and brokenness and loss.
That said, I pulled it together and transcribed this long-ish analysis of America's Next Top Model, which I had stopped watching, but which I started watching again this season because I had a cold and there literally was nothing else on. That is what it takes now for me to watch this show, and that shoudl really tell you something.
So, I have to preface this analysis , perhaps for my own sense of dignity, by saying that I really, honestly don't watch reality tv. I just don't really get into it, and sometimes I can't even watch the recaps on "The Soup" because I think the people are so loathsome. Half the time I don't even know if they're being serious, if what they're parodying is really a show.
That said, when "America's Next Top Model came out in 2003 I started watching it because I am interested in the business of fashion and am intrigued by the modeling industry. Ok, it turned out to be less about those things and more about girlfights and people crying about their hair, but I watched a few more seasons (or, "Cycles," as they're called, because they do more than one per year). I had to quit, though, because it was getting more and more indulgent of Tyra Banks' enormous ego and wacky personality, AND because one day, I was like "I've seen this episode before...no wait, I jyst think I have because every cast is now the same, comprised roughly of the following characters and stereotypes. If you've ever watched this show, I think you might find this amusing.
It is written, somewhere, that the cast of America's Next Top Model must be comprised of the following characters:
1. The poster child: a girl with an issue, usually medical, that editors usually work into the storyline. This cycle has an epileptic and a burn victim, but previously they’ve exploited lupus, a heart condition, autism, blindness, and a few others. It’s not that these girls aren’t pretty, but I’m going to cynically surmise that this is what pushed them over the top in casting.
2. The girl with the confused sexual identity: it seems like casting people myst ask everyone about their sexual identity, because there is at least one moment where someone goes “hey, I’m gay!” or “I think I might be bisexual” or has some kind of breakdown during the season, because they like girls instead of boys, or boys instead of girls, or they are a boy, or some other crazy thing. Also, I’m almost certain that some of the models are gay, but just don’t mention it, because they don’t want their personal life to be a storyline. Although, if you go on this show (or any reality tv show), aren’t you kind of asking for that?
3. The crazy girl: yeah, I’m pretty sure they do a psych evaluation with all reality show contestants, then vote on who’s the craziest and put them on the show. At least, I think this is what happens with America’s Next Top Model, so they can be sure to even out Tyra Banks’ craziness. For instance, I’m guessing Jade was that crazy in the interview. I think when you put crazy under stress and deprive it of sleep, you get – that’s right—reality tv crazy, which Tyra Banks seems to be all the time. Not that I don’t respect her as a business woman. But sometimes, her antics on that show make me cringe.
4. The overly confident girl—a grand tradition (in the modeling world as well), and I’m not sure why, but people are still saying things like “I will eliminate the competition because I am better than they are.” This seems to push the coaches and the judges into a frenzy of criticism, ending in them sending the girl home. It is always funny to watch, though, from a strictly hubristic standpoint.
5. The foreign girl: the girl from a foreign, hopefully impoverished country, charged with saying lines like “the others—they don’t understand. In my country it’s so different.” Previously represented countries include Brazil, Russia (Natasha- total mail order bride), and Somalia, and that girl may or may not have had female circumcisn. Yikes! This girl also always messes up at least one photo shoot, claiming “they don’t have this (game/ activity) in my country.” Again, you’d think if you were going to go on a reality tv competition in America, you might want to look up “hopscotch.”
6. The girl who is too old: let’s face it. Casting a 25 year old in a show based on an industry where Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss broke out when they were 14 is just a bad idea. I’m thinking Melrose, crazy Lisa, even crazier Jade, and the blonde girl this season whose name I’m not even going to bother to learn because I just know that before too long, they’re going to start to go “wow, she photographs OLD,” when they clearly knew she was too old when they brought her on. This one is silly, and I wish they’d stop doing it.
7. The naïf / the small-town girl: this girl has “I’ve always been the tall, pretty girl in my town” written all over her face. Says things like “New York City—this is what it’s all about!” in the beginning, and usually cries about something (heights, nudity, themes, being away from their baby) at some point in the competition. Always starts to crumble about halfway through the cycle and is clearly never going to make it, but producers love this girl because she makes us see the world through her fresh, small town in Kentucky (Iowa, North Dakota) eyes. Or something like that.
8. The plus size girl: Yes, it is true that one plus-size girl won the show, but by the time the magazine cover came out, you could tell she’d already been totally pressured to lose the weight. I’m really at a loss as to why they don’t have a separate show for plus-size models, since this is an actual legitimate industry now, and since the plus-size model is almost guaranteed to end up with a complex, living in a house with twelve girls who are 5’10 and 110 lbs, and say things like “dude, I’m so totally fat right now!”
9. The “bad childhood” girl: has problems, cannot disguise them for long. Problems make for good tv, and so we’ve seen formerly homeless girls, childhood abuse girls, domestic abuse girls, and the rest of the gamut. Poverty and drug abuse will also qualify a girl for this category, and the issues absolutely must be discussed during the course of the show, hopefully with a teary breakdown and an US Weekly story.
10. The video girl: this is the girl who belongs in “Maxim” or “Stuff,” and everyone knows it. Her shots and demeanor are clearly not going to win her this contest, the prize of which is a Seventeen Magazine cover, but it’s possible that producers put this girl in to assuage the “disgruntled boyfriend” contingency that might be watching this show. “Stop sticking out your boobs!” they say to this girl, over and over, but you cannot—for you see, sticking out her boobs is the one thing that’s actually gotten her somewhere in life, and there’s no way she’s stopping now. This girl, after being cut from the show, does Playboy, or (this really happened) goes back to work….at Hooters.
11. The space alien: an extremely strange looking girl who has probably been furiously mocked throughout her life for being tall, crazy thin, and praying-mantis like, or for having really huge eyes or some other distinguishing feature. This is the actual person who probably has the best chance of making it in the world of high fashion, but usually the pressure gets to them because all the other girls are more conventionally pretty, and they end up on the phone with a relative in the “private” phone booth, crying about how they can’t take the pressure. Next thing you know, she’s “lost her focus,” and she’s gone.
As a bonus, here are a few things that all kicked-off contestants must say before leaving the house:
“This is just the beginning for me.”
“I’m just going to go home, pack up, and move out to (Los Angeles/ New York), and work my ass off.” (no one ever says what exactly they’re going to do, but that’s beside the point I suppose).
“You’ll be seeing me again. This wasn’t my time, but I’ll be on the magazine covers.”
“I totally can’t believe it. The wrong person is going home right now.”
Also, somewhere along the lines, one girl will cry because they cut off all her hair. This happens every time, even though it always happens, and you'd think that at least some of these people would have watched before and noticed that the bigger a deal you make out of your hair, the shorter they are going to cut it. Go figure.