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America’s Next Top Model, Episode 1: More Than Just Pretty Faces?by Jamie Goralski -- 05/21/2003
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Are you lamenting the end of Survivor: The Amazon, wondering how you would fill your television need for vapid, needy, logically-challenged women? Where will you find women who think the world revolves around them and their looks without the help of Mark Burnett? Have no fear. We have America’s Next Top Model, populated with just scads of Jennas and Heidis who think more highly of themselves than anyone else possibly could. Well, most of them. A couple of the girls seemed okay. Have you caught my enthusiasm? Great... let’s get to it...
We begin our odyssey in L.A., where there are 20 semi-finalists hoping to be chosen for one of the 10 spots on the show. If you read my preview based on the website that has been up for about a month you’d know who was chosen. And if you haven’t, why not? Great literature is meant to be savored and memorized. Ahem. Anyway, the editing team wasted no energy on suspense because the girls who were not featured on the site were glossed over so fast they were a blur and the lingering shots and face time saved for the chosen ones. Except for Justine. She got a lot of face time for someone cut before it began but once you see why you will see it was not film misspent. It was, in fact, the first time reality television ever satisfied my need for instant gratification by creating the consummate bitch and then giving her the comeuppance she so richly deserves during the first part of the show. Make us hate her then show her immediate boot. It was really beautiful, as you’ll see.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Back in L.A. we are told ten will be moving on and ten will be going home. Then Tyra Banks herself walks in (creator and executive producer of the show – she’s judging as well) to much applause from the cast of hopefuls. We see various clips of the girls’ audition tapes.
Tyra leaves, telling the girls to “be gorgeous and be great!” Well, I think we all have a new life motto now, don’t we?
Now the women go before a panel to try to convince them to “pick me, pick me!” I would have given anything for one of them to have just done the Horshack hand raising “OOOOH OOOOH.” Their cries for attention were no less obvious but far less charming. Can’t all potential supermodels learn by watching the great Ron Palillo in his signature role?
Elyse tells them she knows she can’t do this (modeling) for life. She has applied to medical school. They ask her what she will do if forced to choose and she says that medical school can be deferred but being 20 cannot. It’s obvious with the way she presents herself that she has a whole lot more going for her than just her looks. She says if she were doing the choosing she wouldn’t select herself. One of the very few instances of modesty in this whole hour and it put me firmly in her corner.
Ebony is questioned about being a lesbian and her thoughts on being upfront about it on television. She is very comfortable with who she is and is very open. She tells a story of when she was in high school and when the other girls found out she was gay they refused to change with her in the locker room so she just went to the boys locker room and they all high fived her and she would change in there. If true, that bespeaks a tremendous amount of confidence at a young age, and an unheard of level of tolerance among high school boys, not an age group generally known for being open-minded in regards to sexuality.
Katie talks of misperceptions about her, she is seen as prissy and claims it isn’t the case. She says no one knows about her work with PETA and how much of an animal lover she is. Why doesn’t she just tell them, then? This proverbial “they” who misperceive her. She is asked if she is a vegetarian and she says no, she does eat chicken. Well good, I didn’t want to have to lose sleep wondering about her protein needs being met.
Natalie speaks as if she is on the verge of tears telling us that she comes from a broken home. She is the eldest of eight children, her mother was on drugs so she was raised in foster care. She needs to be a supermodel as there is no other career where she will fit in, not one, she needs this very, very badly. I think she should have been cautioned about getting her hopes up and perhaps having a plan B in her life since becoming a supermodel isn’t exactly a sure thing.
Justine tells us she loves attention, always has to be the center of attention. Her mom calls her up in the morning and tells her, “you’re great, you’re wonderful,” and she says she knows, she knows and is feeling her greatness. She says she has a better looking face than the other girls, she doesn’t even know what some of them are doing here. How dare people she finds less attractive than herself exist within her line of vision! As she is leaving she says, “I did good, I did great, I’m the best. I knew it.” She’s like Stuart Smalley gone very, very awry.
Adrienne is from Joliet, Illinois, and muses nostalgically about cow tipping for some reason. Asked why she should be chosen she says she is funny, pretty, with perfect teeth (and shows them to us, too), and that she’s very rock and roll. There is an odd quality to her voice and facial expressions. Makes one wonder what they were serving at that party.
Nicole says when she sees supermodels in magazines she sees herself. She really, really, really wants this. Really. She knows the other women do too but she really does. Really.
Kesse says she and her mom aren’t on good terms right now (is this foreshadowing for drama in upcoming episodes? The statement seemed out of place) but Kesse is a true diva complete with attitude and hand gestures and everything. Can we strike this word from our collective vocabulary right now? No one can use it in a non-operatic sense without looking beyond foolish. She knows this is a competition and isn’t here to make friends.1 2 3 4 Next-->
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