...everyone knows that your arms are remarkable...
Stop trying to sell them. I'll make fun of them when I'm good and ready.
ANTM is back! And this time, it's good! Yay! I don't want to get too excited too early, because we know how repetition can make for a season that overstays its welcome (Guess what? Renee has a child! Sarah knows everything! Natasha constructs sentences like a toddler playing with tinker toys!). Still, it seems like the chemistry of the "talent" pool is stronger than...ever? (Certainly, stronger than last cycle.) We'll see, but I'm hoping that the rest of the cycle makes good on the promise of the first episode. Before I get to laughing at the crying and sneering at Tyra, I want to run down a list of things that make me feel that ANTM Cycle 8 is on the upswing:
- Tyra's pretty again
She seems to be avoiding massive hair, even if it means the ultimate price: looking like a gypsy.
Whatever it takes, though. She's also not contorting her face nearly as much as last cycle. (Remember how out of control she was during the first episode of last cycle?) I mean, some craziness slips in here...
...and everywhere, kinda...
...but the fact that these were all split-second freak outs and there wasn't nearly enough compelling material to make a clips reel of her outlandishness means she could be scaling back, right? Maybe she's changing, maybe I'm changing, but I like to think that we're growing together.
- The girls have hit the ground bitching
The burper (RIP, Kathleen), the know-it-all, the perpetual coveter and the guilty victor are just a few of the ingredients of the stew that promises to bubble over with tears in a pot stirred by Tyra (OMG, fucking kill me now for extended culinary metaphors).
- Best house ever
Gorgeous and the decor decidedly less obnoxious than the Tyra explosion of last cycle.
OK, so, to celebrate ANTM is to celebrate Tyra, too, but whatever. At least there's a degree of separation. Progress. Growing together.
- CariDee's My Life as a CoverGirl segments are good!
Shocking right? They didn't lobotomize CariDee between cycles or anything (not that there was so much to remove in the first place or anything). Regardless, her readings are maybe a million times (a trillion?) more natural than anyone that came before her. We know she's not going to be on Milan runways, but I'm really hoping that she can parlay this thing into...anything, really.
- "Fierce" is back
The word was said seven times over the course of the episode, which may be more than it was said all last cycle. I had no idea how much I missed it!
One potential downside to the setup of this cycle is the positive angle -- the girls obviously were prompted during the semi-final round to talk about what they wanted to accomplish if they were to be selected for/win ANTM (Micheline, for example, wanted to show other tattooed girls that it's OK to look like that. She's really a saint, trying to raise confidence in the perpetually maligned inked youth of America). And then there's the philanthropy thing. But really, if the results are as hilarious as Whitney thinking that she can change the modeling industry's standards with her thick, curvy hands alone, or as hilarious as, uh, this...
...this direction will do just fine.
And now we cry.
Renee gets the ball rolling and, as you'll see, behaves as though it's her mission to keep it rolling.
Oh my godddddd. If you, like, drank your tears? Could you, like, be not thirsty anymore?
She is big attached to man who postal carry her to these grand States.
Her son. And son and son and son and son.
Jael is full of two things: kindness and shit. Her insecurity thing kinda breaks my heart but it also kinda repulses me. Here, she weeps because she doesn't understand why she was picked for the semi-finals. Maybe because you applied for the show, asshole?
Micheline leaves early, but not before giving the single best exit interview in (say it with me now) the history of America's Next Top Model. "[Jael] doesn't care about being here, and all she does is act like an idiot and she beat me out and that [shit?] makes me so angry, I just wanna go punch her." The vitriol comes from the tattoos.
We should all weep along with Natasha's tears of joy. The decision to beam Natasha into our living rooms on a weekly basis is a gift to humankind.
Renee believes that children are the future. Well, just her child really.
After being selected, Whitney thanked Jesus. From the sidelines you could hear: "You're welcome. But call me Tyra...when the cameras are on."
Here's a joke that you'll never have to read again (because really, I shouldn't even do it once): big girls do cry.
12. Unknown semi-finalist
Anna Nicole's cousin Shelly has found herself in a bit of a rough patch lately...
Remember that Kleenex commercial with the pastel CGI cartoon woman with the really round head and red arrow-shaped nose? Yeah.
"Tyra, are you part elephant?"
If you have such separation anxiety, just walk away, Renee (yet another one I can't ever use again).
"...And if so, does that make you cry?"
Whitney surveys the L.A. scenery and cries. For you see, here is where broken hearts go.
Sadly, she had every right to be nervous.
My "E" button is threatening a strike.
Jael didn't like being in the bottom 2 because she's totally a top.
There are other people on this show besides Renee, Kathleen, Jael and Whitney?
And now, the Tyraisms.
Sometimes you focus so much on the details that you pass up (OK, I focus, I pass up) gold just because its shine is too obvious. Or something. I've never chosen "Congratulations, you're still in the running towards becoming America's Next Top Model" as a Tyraism because as iconic as it is, it's just too present, you know? It's something a novice would point out and revel in. But in the spirit of rebirth, I'm going with something fairly commonplace for the first Tyraism of the week.
"The last name that I am going to call is..." Yeah, Mya Rudolph made fun of this like two years ago on SNL, but how insane is it that it takes her that long to say 10 words? Also, announcing that you're about to say what you're about to say is about as gratuitious as saying, "I...am...a...person...of...in...trigue...and...suh...uh...uh...uh...spence..." It's like she owns stock in ellipses.
And now for Tyraism of the Week No. 2:
"You need to pull it together. I have been sick right here and had to not just look right, but lead this judging panel. I can't tell somebody, 'I have a fever and I'm gonna be low energy today.' Low energy on a photo shoot means lower sales." Bless her heart. Her perseverance is nothing short of inspiring. She led a panel, which is, in turn, totally random and utterly dogmatic, with a fever. You know how Oprah built that school in South Africa and then ran that damn special last week that made me cry? Tyra's dedication to ANTM made me cry harder.
Since it was the first episode and we're just getting to know the girls, I think it's best to attack the rest of this recap on a girl-by-girl basis. Let's start with my favorite. Presenting Natasha!
Whenever I see her, "I'm happy and I'm dancin'."
I think she's OK looking, but her speech is beautiful. It's not really her Russian mail-order bride accent, though that does make every sentence feel like Play Doh. It's more her word choice. Why say, "You don't know me! You can't judge me!" when you can bring out the bold flavor of your language with a dash of "I'm tired of you tellin' me bad stuff about me, OK?" Is your "I'm proud to be an American" motto making your apple pie taste boring? Liven it up with a twist of, "I feel myself American." Incidentally, I'm jealous -- if I could feel myself French, I'd never leave the house. (God, that's like something a Fred Willard character would say. No really: shoot me.) Feeling full of yourself? Why hide it? Embrace your beauty with a side of smug: "I'm pretty, so I think that I'll make it." How much you wanna be that Natasha has believed that all her life? It got her this far, at least.
Her hair is about the same texture as Edy Williams' in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. I couldn't love her more.
Also, she is fun loving.
"Oh my god! I see J's comin'! And I'm screamin'! I can't believe I'm seein' them alive!" Is that because, in the opening military sequence, she expected them to be beaten to death by their stereotypically intolerant fellow servicemen?
Before you can even say, "Don't ask," these two already told, y'know?
But my favorite Natasha quote is: "There are girls really masc-alin and they just not supposed to be here. Why are they here?" Nothing I could say could possibly enhance that. Natasha wins. I bow to her.
I will give her that she's much cuter in motion, thanks to her winning personality, and I can almost see where they're going with her (she's, like, one of those odd-gorgeous-really odd fashion types, right?). But ultimately, I have to ask myself...
...should a model be able to cross over into Lypsinka territory so easily? (Photo credit)
Allow me to repeat myself: Um, no.
And, to make it thrice...
Can you believe that panel gagged over this picture?
She looks like she's, well, gagging. Janice would tell her to close her mouth. I think that bothers me the most.
Nothing says winning first impression like friendly puppies, right? Her tig ol' bitties were just dying to get out and meet people. I think Tyra likes Whitney so much because Whitney looks a little like Tyra's mom.
Wouldn't it be awesome if Tyra's mom were called to compete on the show? The episode in which she got kicked off would be very special.
I love that this photographer asked her, "What kind of model are you?" Unless he was looking exactly for the answer of "plus size" (which he obviously was), how else could you possibly respond to that? "Menthol"? "The kind with the vibrating ring that goes around the base"? "Sedan"?
I like Diana, but I think Whitney may have the plus-girl edge. Maybe I'm just disappointed that I figured Diana for an articulate girl and then she quoted Christina Aguilera and ruined everything.
I love this girl. Since "fierce" is the word all over again, I think her slightly surly exterior might work in her advantage. Also, as you can see, she's on the cute side when she smiles.
Also, I love that she talks so much and achieves this gentle absurdity through the mundane details that leak out of her mouth ("...jalapeño peppers or something like that."). I was so touched by her story about her deceased tarantula that I thought it would be nice to do up a little memorial:
You'll always be in our hearts, Sassy (I like to imagine her with Valerie Cherish hair, myself).
Reader whatwouldjanicedickinsondo says Jael = Adrianne Curry + Ed Grimley. I agree, especially in terms of her perpetually stohhhhhked voice. Overall, I think of Jael, messy lost soul that she is, as the living embodiment of Vegas Mom, which is to say, give her a Sex on the Beach and hold the beach. And, if you wouldn't mind swapping the sex for an OxyContin, that'd be awesome, too.
I've used the Vegas Mom analogy before (with Joanie, I believe), but here I think it's particularly appropriate since Jael sometimes looks like Nomi Malone:
Did she eat all the chips! Yes she did!
Also, I loved when, for that ridiculous (but way socially conscious photo shoot), she was given the "pro-life" issue and she gave a look to suggest...
"But how can I be pro-life? Sex is something I do between clinic visits!" That, of course, begs the question...
(Also, isn't it insane how much Natasha looks like Cate Blanchett two shots up?)
And really, an unwanted child is nothing that a little hula-hooping can't solve, right?
With her loser's attitude, I'm not sure about Jael's place in any competition, but I look forward to seeing more of her. She is, after all, capable of being stunning...
...when she isn't wearing a tutu.
And, on that note, I interrupt this recap for a Pretty Party.
That concludes this week's Pretty Party. The recap now resumes with Jaslene:
To say Jaslene is tranny-esque is inaccurate, unless you're comparing her to the hottest, most convincing tranny on earth. Basically, she looks like a man, who really, really looks like a woman. Her voice, however, is another matter. God, "All Day, Everyday!" could totally be a freestyle track. An answer to/rip-off of Alisha's "All Night Passion," perhaps? Jaslene is an awesome freestyle name, too (Cynthia would be so jealous!). "All Day, Everyday!" would be the biggest single from Jaslene's album Still Spicy.
I would so own those records right now (and probably make ringtones out of them), too, if they really existed.
Anyway, I was never really taken with Jaslene's beauty until I saw her first shot:
Holy shit, you know? That's not of this world. It's enough to make me consider getting on Team Jaslene. I'm really thinking about it. Temptation is a part of life, it doesn't matter if it's wrong or right.
Oh, we back on that again:
Um, no. (Isn't the shot of Jaslene much more Janice-esque?)
Also, nice gap.
She's sweet, though.
There's not much more to say about Renee that hasn't already been covered (which is to say: she has a son and isn't afraid to use him as an excuse for tears). I suppose many will hate her because of her nasty disposition and unwillingness to accept others' success, but I get off on fucking hot, bitchy girls. I kind of want her to kick the shit out of me and make me love it.
I think she is so hot, generally. But sometimes...
...she looks like Miss Havisham.
Sarah's already gotten the insufferable edit, which means she's bouncing soon or we are to see an arc of her character that will challenge what we know (like, say, oh, I don't know: Sarah's insecurity will come to the forefront). I'm hoping it's the latter because between Jael and Sassy, my sympathy is already stretched thin.
...stick up your ass? Check again -- it's still there.
I love how Sarah thinks she's so self-aware by practically commending herself for being, "20 going on 26." Yeah right. I'd add at least another decade...
...if not two. Note to Sarah: avoid natural light.
And then there's Kathleen.
What a gal. It could have been so beautiful. Judging by her fur philosophy, she could have provided another cycle's worth of Imagine That!s, if only she'd stayed. But whatever, at least we know why her hair looked the way it did.
What is that? Hedgehog? Boar?
And though Kathleen is one of those people who thinks everyone is at her level and thus explains things as though she's addressing the severely disabled ("I know, like, I'm gonna have to do something wit', like, crap. Not crap, literally, but, like, somethin' that someone threw away."), I think maybe she's wiser than most give her credit for. She really wasn't afraid to admit that she didn't understand the very concept of being anti-fur ("I know, right?"). Whether or not she didn't know enough to be embarrassed is another issue. She's kind of like a masturbating chimp, in that sense. And when that chimp dies, think of the gorgeous cape he'll make!
But whatever, it's good to know that she's going to keep on keeping on and not go home and sit on her couch like a big couch potato. Have fun in that big holding pen in the sky, girl (and let us know if that, too, is freakin' heaven).
And we're still not done. If you aren't asleep yet, I have just a few more random observations:
- It never ceases to tickle me that Jay Manuel is considered butch. I guess when you wear that much foundation, it makes your skin have a tough time breathing so that merely existing is a strenuous task, but come on.
- Way to be politically correct, Phillip Bloch.
"Vocationally challenged?" So it's no longer socially acceptable to say "jobtarded?" Damn it.
- I want this framed:
- I never get sick of seeing a cute Latin dude between two legs:
- Tyra has never seen Apocalypse Now. A British accent? Really?
- Finally, I can't clearly make out what dance Tyra says she does in that rap she busted out during the post-semi-finals celebration. It goes like this:
I've listened to the chant a million times by now, and I'm almost positive that she says, "My name is Tyra / And I shake it / And I do the lazy hippo." If she just referred to herself as a hippo, I have more respect for her than I ever thought was possible.