ANTM episode 2 opens with Yale ’09 Victoria Marshman. Tyra Banks voices over: “This season we have a Yale student with brains and beauty.” Hunchback computer-programmer Heather has been branded as “stunning beauty struggling with a disability,” assuaging my premiere-episode fear that she would be a threat to Tory’s status as Token Smart Girl. Since molestation victim Marvita was eliminated in prelims, six-year foster care veteran Lisa takes over the hard-knock role: “I’ve seen every kind of hurt.” Plus, she’s an exotic dancer with a heart of gold, which is so Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Instant underdog status!
The girls arrive in LA and Mr. J announces the season’s theme: environmentalism. Yawn. The girls board a biodiesel bus pimped out with grass and other weird outdoor shit. “Weird outdoor shit” must be the design-world companion to “environmentalism” because the mansion is decorated that way, too, with shrubbery and strange plants creeping from every corner. Of course, the real theme of every ANTM cycle is “Tyra Banks,” and blown-up images of the Amazonian host’s airbrushed, pore-free face plaster virtually every flat surface. We move to the bedroom and discover that the girls will be sleeping in ONE BIG ROOM this year. Budget issues? Or a dastardly plot to induce lights-out melodrama and scantily-clad pillow fights?
After the jump — take a wild fucking guess.
I’m leaning towards the latter when the girls announce that, in the spirit of environmentalism, they will from now on conserve water by bathing all together in one tub. Total BUGs (Bisexual Until Graduation), or shall we say, BUFs (Bisexual Until Finale).
The next morning Mr. J announces the first photo shoot: A photoshop-erific display of the negative effects of smoking. Each girl will do a glamorous boudoir shot with cigarette in hand, followed by a grotesque “after napalming your lungs” shot to be reflected in a prop mirror. Apparently the season’s theme is not just “green,” but also “all boring things involving social responsibility so Tyra can look like she has a soul.” The arrival of Mike Rosenthal, the photographer who did cycle 7′s freak show pictorial, tells us that things are about to get gross.
Ambreal portrays “coughing up blood.” She holds a blood-soaked hanky before her mouth, gags, and rolls her eyes back in what I can only assume is her (incredibly macabre) hummer-face.
Jenah wears a bald pate as a cancer patient with no hair; Jenah is the only smoker in the house, so this is supposed to be extra-emotional. Mila, who believes in the power of positive thinking, wants to make her photoshoot “fun.” She does this by laughing hysterically at the way she looks made up as a balding chemo patient, and though peals of laughter while contemplating cancer may not be in good taste, neither is her make-up, which makes her look like a zombie version of Bozo the clown.
This photoshoot is seriously disgusting.
Chantal gets a trachectomy hole in her neck. Humpback Heather and Saleisha pose together to portray the effects of “second-hand smoke,” or perhaps to induce an Asperger’s-related meltdown and reinforce Humpback’s outsider status. Alas, the shoot goes well.
Kimberly gets a sunken face. Sarah portrays premature aging and her artificially-wrinkled face is so hideous I am forced to look away from the screen. Is this that “ugly-pretty” Tyra keeps telling us is “high-fashion”? French Vogue it ain’t.
Stripper-With-a-Heart-of-Gold Lisa and Bianca-of-the-Cheap-Weave sit side-by-side having their hair curled. On the verge of pulling a Naomi, they threaten to beam each other with cellphones. “I’ll throw my phone at your ass!” Bianca sing-songs sweetly. “Then it’ll come right back at your forehead!” Lisa replies with a saccharine smile. Passive-aggressiveness + violent tendencies = good tv. This is a catfight in the making.
“Gimme your look!” Heart-of-Gold orders Tory. “I’m just going to wing it,” our Eli demurs. Her negative effect is “still-born child,” and she clutches at a dirty rubberized fetus-doll, mascara-tears streaming down her sexy, forlorn face. Stillbirth has never looked so good. Stillborn fetus-dolls are the black!
Ebony sits before the vanity set and looks like she is trying to poop. Bianca portrays “gingivitis,” sporting a fetching set of mouth herpes and rotten teeth borrowed from the guy on Tales from the Crypt.
Heart-of-Gold gets a face tumor and “works it out,” a regular pin-up for the festering-face-sore-fetish set. After the shoot, she and Bianca get in a screaming match. “You real lame!” shouts Bianca. “You insecure!” Lisa spits back. Surest sign of a bitch-fight: Loss transitive verbs.
“At least I’m not 20 and stripping in some club!” Bianca shrieks, aiming below the (garter)belt. “You really think America’s Next Top Model is going to be an exotic dancer?! What a role-model, right? [huffy noises]” In an off-screen interview Tory says she calls the whole thing is “so high school,” foolishly alienating ANTM’s core demographic of fourteen-year-old girls.
Later that night, during a steamy hot tub session, Lisa and Bianca apologize, forgive, and forget. “It’s not because I want to,” Bianca confides in a private interview, “it’s because I’m strategic.” She doesn’t want this to come up in panel and give her a bad wrap. Bianca, you conniving bitch. I continue to love-hate you.
Heather sits by herself cuddling a stuffed toy. Cut to a shot of everyone else talking about how much they hate her. She has terrible hygiene and can’t even pronounce “Asperger’s” correctly! “Oz-burger,” she keeps saying, as if she and Dorothy are about to wear ruby-red slippers to the maltshop down Emerald City Lane. Mila, self-proclaimed ray of sunshine who enjoys laughing at cancer patients, says Heather doesn’t bother her. “I’m really, really open-minded. I will give everybody a shot!! A pink unicorn dances behind her; songbirds flutter gaily about her golden hair. I aim a shotgun at the screen and maim her unicorn. Happy people are so annoying.
Miss J. Alexander arrives and the girls go wild. He is there to tell them about styling: “”eep it personal, but keep it simple.” The girls’ ability to dress themselves will be tested at an all-out balls-to-the-wall shopping spree at… OLD NAVY! They pretend to be excited, but are actually pissed that this episode’s freebies are so LMC. Their outfits will be judged at panel.
When are the makeovers? Isn’t that supposed to happen in the first episode? I want haircuts and tears.
Judging! The girls wear Old Navy and Tyra sports some serious bangs. She talks about the prizes at stake and the girls smile and glow. Beside her is aging ex-model Twiggy, Miss J, and Token Straight Guy Nigel Barker.
We view images from the anti-smoking photoshoot and the panel tells the girls what’s what. This consists primarily of congratulating the girls for their superior ugliness in the “post-smoking” shots, then hemming and hawing over the quality of the “pretty” ones — too hootchie? too snooty? too stiff? Miss J says Mila looks like she’s airing a fart in her picture. She may be pretty, but “pretty is not enough.” Twiggy thinks Tory is “gorgeous.” But she is quiet, which means Tyra must deploy the i-word. “I may be softspoken, but I’m not insecure,” our girl retorts. Anyway, her photo is great, maybe because she’s the only one whose makeup doesn’t make me want to throw up.
Stripper With a Heart of Gold Lisa has good results; Tyra compares her to Shalom Harlowe. Humpback Heather has “quiet beauty,” and much to the dismay of her smack-talking housemates, Humpback wins the episode. In ANTM parlance, this means her name is “called first” when Tyra rattles off the names of the girls still “in” and they trudge, one by one, to the opposite side of the room while the unnamed girls stand before Tyra misty-eyed, internal monologues screaming Pick me! Pick me! It’s the proverbial gym-class team-picking of television.
Tyra announces that, in light of how totally groaty everyone looked in their post-cigarette pics, this will be ANTM’s first no-smoking cycle. Resident chimney stack Jenah looks like she’s about to pass out. She must quit, starting tomorrow, which means she’s going to be so crabby in next week’s episode…
The final cut is down to Ebony and Mila. I cross my fingers for the demise of the cheerful blonde. Ebony needs to work on her attitude. Mila is generally meh. Ebony is in. Mila is out! She cries heart-shaped tears that sparkle like diamonds atop her satin skin, and bids everyone farewell. Good riddance!
This is the second post of my America’s Next Top Model series, which will last as long as Tory stays on the show.