(Image courtesey Jonno and his Flickr.)
So, I have to admit that I was dreading this. The past four months have been blissfully recap-free in these parts, and the vacation of sorts more than made up for the hit my traffic took as a result. I worried about getting back into these recaps -- had I lost my touch? Did I even have anything to say about this show anymore? Was I still willing devote all the time that these recaps recaps?
I still wasn't sure as I watched the opening of the admittedly awesome Cycle 9 premiere of ANTM on Wednesday. And then, my destiny became clear. There was no turning back. See, just a few minutes in, there it was, smiling at me:
Ah. This image is so comforting, it's as though I'm reentering the womb...through Tyra's arm.
It feels so good to be back.
But really, what the fuck was up with that showgirl shit? What was she even going for besides, you know, laughs at her expense? At first, I thought it was maybe a Priscilla, Queen of Dessert (you know that extra S is intentional, too) type of thing, but no, that's not exactly it. She wasn't sassy or sexy...more Seussy, really.
You know? Except, I don't think that Tyra's really Thing 3. That number is far too low. She is, after all, "real size," and thus needs a Thing number that reflects such realness.
And now, let's cry.
Oh what fun it will be to ride Heather. I didn't think it was possible for me to love her more, but then I realized that she broke this cycle's seal. Rapture.
Hey, guess why she's crying? Because Tyra stuck her fingers in Marvita's tear ducts and manually manipulated them.
God, Joss Stone is getting really desperate, isn't she? At least she's aware enough of the sorry state of her career to weep.
Lisa believes that participating in ANTM constitutes positive behavior. She has no idea: she's inspired me to spend the past five days laughing at her. I believe that Lisa is our future.
6. Some chick
First rule of modeling: don't obscure your face. Better luck next time, Anonymiss. See ya!
Sylvia reports that after being rejected, she'll die a little every time someone asks her if she's a model. A little? Not fast enough!
8. & 9. Saliesha and Sylvia
Just typing that out gives my fingers that distinct spin-off single. Saleisha & Sylvia would be the CW's half-hour comedic update of the Linda Hamilton/Ron Perlman drama series Beauty and the Beast, except with 25 percent more neck rolling and about 100 percent more synthetic hair. Engagements, personal-assistant swapping and ice-cream eating would ensue. In all honesty, the fact that Saleisha is openly weeping for her departing sistahgirl shows that she is both beautiful inside and out. But more on this wonderful creature on a second.
She wants this so bad. Jennifah may not have been able to stick around, but at least she performed a public service in her brief time on the CW -- the look on her face provides an answer to the age-old question that is: "How's it feel to want?" I know I've been wondering it for years. Years!
I love that her name has "nah" at the end of it. My thoughts exactly!
God, bitch, have some patience. Don't you know that your stripper-not-stripper ass is about as close to a dramatic arc as we've got this episode and therefore you must be called last to preserve the order of the ANTM universe? How could you not know that?!?
"Waaaah!" sounds the same in regular English and in Bostonian English. Fact!
In this shot, catharsis + Mr. Burns' frailty + my middle-school librarian's frizz = ...a model. Seriously.
Poor is the woman who cannot recognize a mercy killing. I don't know if I've ever seen less humane casting in my life.
16. Some chick
I wonder if her utter lack of screen time made her cry all over again when the show premiered.
And you know, I was crazy to even consider not covering this show. It is now I realize how empty my life has been without the wit and wisdom of Tyra Banks. I'm so glad that this episode offered plenty of it.
Tyraism of the Week No. 1 - "Modeling is not about being the most beautiful girl in the room. America's Next Top Model strives to find girls who have a distinct something. That je ne sais quoi. That controversial, debatable beauty that defies description."
OK, right now I want to take time out of transcribing to say that as these were the first words uttered of Cycle 9, it's safe to say that Tyra hit the ground spinning. All of this translates to: "After five years, you best believe we're scraping the bottom of the barrel, y'all!" It made me yearn for the start of every other cycle: that shrill "BEING A TOP MODEL...!!!!" that can elicit Pavlovian drooling, at least in my experience.
"But what is beauty to you? Is it odd, edgy, bizarre? Or safe, clean, predictable?"
I'll interrupt again to point out that for both scenarios, pictorial examples are provided...
Of course, they are of Tyra. The result? "To me, it's all beautiful." Well, of course it is, now isn't it?
But wait. It's not over yet!
"My mission has always been to expand what America considers beautiful, question what makes a model and open up the world of fashion to young women everywhere." Well, doesn't she sound defensive? Did the Vatican criticize her or something? Also, I feel really discriminated against. That should read "...open up the world of fashion to young women, gay guys and the str8 boys who love them, but not like that unless they're, like, tipsy. Tee hee." Represent!
Tyraism of the Week No. 2 - (To Saleisha) "OK, I'm not gonna sit here and pretend like I don't know you. You went to my T-Zone camp years ago, and because of that, I'm gonna be harder on you." So I guess the rule of you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours does not exist in Tyra's world? Or maybe Tyra just wants to test the limits of Saleisha's T-Zone-derived confidence?
"Any girl that gives me a simulated kitty-cat wax is fine with me." OMG! Please tell me that this is the cycle in which Tyra goes gay! Please!
Things are already moving along nicely.
And yes, I manipulated that to make it infinitely more porno, but whatever. She was asking for it.
"I hear that you've been through a lot a lotta lotta stuff in your life. Tell me about growing up and all the things that you went through and all the tragedy!" She sounds so sunny, doesn't she? I couldn't believe that they kept this and its equally moisture-seeking sister, "Why don't you talk about that?" in the show. It's seriously tangible evidence of insensitivity and manipulation. I think she's even proud of it. I'd be disgusted if said insensitivity and manipulation didn't keep me so consistently entertained. If keeping this in the show is tanamount to gloating, I say, go on and gloat. Be proud of your empire, your T-Zone and your t-zone, TyTy.
(To nasty-ass Ebony) "So you know where your pain comes from and you know why you lash out at other people. There's a reason that everybody is the way that they are. And that's your way. Don't think I'm judging you I just wanted to get into why." First of all, nice one, Sigra Franks.
You know, if ever I feel guilty about all the shit that I talk (it hasn't happened yet, btw, but I'm all kinds of agnostic and therefore have undying faith in possibility), I'll definitely make myself feel better with this kind of rationalizing. In fact, I think I'll name my memoir, or at least the part that covers this stage of my life, Getting Into Why. Or maybe I'll take Tyra's more implicit cue and just name it The Anal Stage. Either way, thanks Tyra!
I bet you think that I'm done with Tyra. You are foolish, and I feel OK to tell you that straight-up because I know that you went to T-Zone. You can take it. Did you notice anything about Tyra this episode (besides her hair being of the just-had-a-baby-no-longer-caring level of limpness)? I did! She was such a bitch! Here are nine separate instances of shadiness that I spotted, grouped by Tyra's stank and the smell that caused it.
Hmmm. I can kind of see Tyra's point.
I loved how even though Ambreal changed from leisure wear...
...those denim atrocities stayed.
What do you call those things, anyway? Calf-warmers? Leg skirts? Cotton mutations?
Maybe Ambreal didn't take them off because she couldn't take them off. Maybe they're part of her legs. Maybe there's a denim horse somewhere in her bloodline?
This chick doing this shit after Tyra instructed her to, "Walk like you are a butterfly. But think high fashion."
Imagine such a reasonable request getting such an outlandish response. What an asshole!
The smell: Mila
"I love to celebrate everything! I mean, I basically had a really great life so far, so I have absolutely no reason to not celebrate. I celebrate my friends' birthdays, my birthday, everything. I celebrate a new nail color. That's huge!" A really great life so far? Excuse me, but can I be you for a while, Mila? And how does one celebrate a new nail color, anyway? For some reason, I think a maypole may be involved. Anyway, fair enough that Tyra wasn't having this shit. However, I'm afraid that all the stank in the world is no match for the smile-Mila-loves-you brand of positivity that's just radiating from this one. Later, Mila told Ty: "Crying, I don't know. I feel like it's just a little bit of a waste of time." Well, there's a challenge if ever I've heard one! I'm up to it, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Tyra is, too.
The smell: The girl who pronounced Adrianna Lima's name the same way most people pronounce "lima" as in beans. You know what, Tyra? Before you get on anyone's ass for their pronunciation, realize that if enough people mangle a word it becomes real. "Towards," for example, which didn't start out being real at all. Here, I'll use it in a sentence to show you just how real it's become. Just picking a random one here. Uh...: "Congratulations. You're still in the running towards becoming America's Next Top Model." But I digress.
The smell: Sylvia's walk
Come on, Ty! Give the girl a break. She probably just needed to air out.
The smell: Sarah's intro
See, Sarah couldn't tell how odious this was because her nasal passage was blocked. But really, you're plus-size, homegirl. That makes you inherently jolly. You don't need to resort to clownish antics.
The smell: Lisa's offering of a picture of herself as an awkward child.
Again: fair enough.
The smell: Lisa's description of her job as an "exotic dancer": "I'm not naked, I'm not topless. I'll stress this: I do have a bikini on." Oh, well, aren't you just better than everyone else, then, Lisa? Seriously, that's like having the integrity of a porn actress who doesn't do anal because that's just way too dirty.
But you know what that means? It means that this is probably her work uniform:
Which, clearly, is something to be proud of.
It also means that if she's doing this...
...while clothed, then she is a tease by trade. There's so much more honor in stripping. Real talk!
The smell: Kimberly's offering
Smells like horses. Yuck.
But really, what crawled up Tyra's ass and proceeded to be unfierce? It's like, oh sorry to put you out by tuning into your show that features models you "hand-picked." Your show that, if it needs reminding, was really the launchpad to the second phase of your career, Tyra Stanks. Have a little respect for the people you're entertaining and for those you're about to make look like fools anyway via editing!
Although, I can help out in that department, too. Here's a closer look at some of the girls that caught my attention during this first episode:
Call me inhumane, but Ebony's sob story (in which she revealed why she is the way she is and helped Tyra get into why) melted my heart not at all. You know why? She called her mom a "crackhead." She can't even tell her own story delicately! I mean, does not the word "crackhead," like, completely amuse you? I'm so tempted to dedicate the Dogs' "Your Mama's on Crack Rock" to her, but I'll stop short at just merely suggesting it.
I'm mean but only because she's so damn aggressive. "Heather? I call her 'Hunchback.' I think she has insecurity problems, and I don't think she'll do well on America's Next Top Model." Gee, Ebony, did you ever stop to think that Heather's insecurity problems could stem from social ridicule? God, what an asshole. Ebony thinks she's "fierce," and I tend to agree. I think she's fierce in that vampiric-cereal-spokesman kinda way.
Count Chocula is seriously fierce. I mean, he has buck fangs!
But you know, Ebony is stupid/bizarre enough to make me feel that there's some hope for her as a villain. It might not be rub-my-cooter-juice-on-you bizarre, but this is somewhere in that realm:
Like all in one? The only game I could think of that could achieve that would be something like this:
Uno because there's only room for one finger in those svelte model throats.
Hey look, Victoria's already playing!
No fair! She got a head start!
How much do I love this one? First of all, Asperger's is fascinating. There was this kid in college who was totally abrupt and would run everywhere (like down hallways and shit) who eventually got thrown into a single dorm room after his roommates complained about his constant and open masturbation. He had Asperger's and, I think, was luckier for it as he got to ejaculate whenever he wanted and ended up in a single. Life isn't fair!
Anyway, yeah, Heather. Awesome.
Love that she took the piss out of Tyra immediately ("Hey pretty lady, and...Tyra.) and then got all adorably shy about it.
Love that she doesn't walk so much as hulks.
Love her philosophy regarding getting along with the girls: "I'm, like, trying not to step on too many toes, but if I do, it's like, whoops." That is so the spirit!
I love her invisible hump...
...which I think is endemic of her psyching herself out (if she relaxed and thought positive, I bet she wouldn't be half as awkward as she thinks she is). Seriously, how socially incompetent can someone who's sensitive to transgender pronouns be?
Finally, what I love the most about Heather is that she's hot.
So she's kind of a mess, definitely a survivor, decidedly quirky and heart-stoppingly gorgeous. She has the makings of a Top Model classic. Love her so much that she's at least half of the reason that I'm looking forward to next week.
Am I the only one who gets an insane Dunkleman vibe from her?
As much as I love a girl who does this by way of saying hello...
...my inner, and come to think of it, outer, ass-man just cannot get behind (as it were) her posterior pontificating: "I guess once you've seen one butt, you've seen 'em all. You know?" No, Janet, I don't know. To me, butts are like snowflakes. And by that I'm referring to the fact that I like to catch them on my tongue.
You know what's mind-boggling, though? That someone with that philosophy would go on to have a killer ass:
Like, how self-unaware can you be?
Oh, and I know she does it for a living, but here's one pussy I'd love to see her wax:
"People look at me and they think, perfect little Southern Barbie doll." Aw, you poor thing. Well, don't worry: "perfect" never, ever pops into my head when I look at you.
"I think that I have something that no other girl has. I don't know what it is, but there's something. There's something." Judging by the shorts she wore to meet Tyra...
...I'm gonna guess that that "something" is a Fashion Bug gift card.
God, how much do I love Bianca?
First of all, I love that her name is "Bianca." She's like the answer to the question: what would happen if Shareefa joined the animated cast of Beverly Hills Teens?
Her bitch philosophy...
...("...the fun bitch, like that, that's what I categorize myself as, and then there's, like, the bitchy bitch, that I've seen, like, here.") is the key to this show, if not the universe itself.
And she hates Ebony, too. When Ebony was called to be among the 13 finalists, here was Bianca's reaction:
A double eyeroll! I'm so impressed with her skills. Love this girl.
Frankly, I have nothing to say about Jenah, but everything to say about her...jenah:
That is some heavy drapery. If I were a spider and needed to save Jenah from imminent slaughter, I'd totally spin a web that read, "Some Vag!" in the doorway above the hay that she called her bed.
I love this little Kewpie doll.
She is, like, exploding with estrogen if her spaced-out features are an indication. If the modeling thing doesn't work out, I'm sure her career as a baby-making machine will just take off.
I don't know if I buy the whole bone-structure thing that Tyra was talking about (and I don't know if Tyra bought it either since Marvita was, you know, cut). I can't see past the Chris Rock to get to the bone.
But how crazy was it to see that Marvita's stacked?
I would have been less shocked if they panned down to reveal a penis.
Oh, and if Jessica (way, way above in the crying section, but also in that last Saleisha shot) was inhumane casting, then I don't even have a word to describe this:
That is absolutely Anna Nicole Smith's cousin Shelly, and no one can tell me different.
And then there's Spontaniouse:
The fact that we didn't see her say anything about her name leads me to believe that she has no idea how fucking bonkers it is. Spontaniouse, I'd like to introduce you to the weirdness and wildness that is your name:
It's such a shame that she didn't make it on. She has so much spunk. Oh well, there's always next cycle (I'm not even kidding that I won't be the least bit surprised if Tyra brings her back).
Semi-finally, one of my favorite recurring features I like to include in these recaps is Blowjobface of the Week. But, like anything, as ANTM gets older, its taste becomes more specific. Age brings fetish and perhaps Blowjobface of the Week is too basic for where the show's sophistication is. No, instead, for this premiere we have Blindfolded Blowjobfaces of the Week:
A new level of kink!
And here's the non-blind-folded Blowjobface of the Week runner-up:
I have to say that, again, I'm very sad she didn't make it on the show.
Finally, I think Tyra offered us a glimpse of what flashes in your head just before you expire:
Terrifying, right? Before your die, you see the Thing...