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America's Next Top Model recap: Hitting the Wall

The wannabes go rock climbing, and the show goes into a rut — Tyra, can we get a makeover here, puh-leeze???!!!

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Jim De Yonker

America's Next Top Model

TV Show
Current Status:

Bring on the (expletive implied) makeovers, already!

Three episodes into the ninth cycle of America’s Next Top Model, and I feel like I need a laser pointer to make it through the full hour. Look! Chantal still has Barbie locks! Behold! It’s Ebony’s outdated mom bangs. Le gasp! Shield me from Victoria’s ominous eyebrows!

Yeah, I’m purposely laying off Bianca’s dreadful $25 weave, the one with the raspberry bangs, if only because she’s still getting comic mileage out of it. Sample rant: ”Don’t let the red hair fool you, bitches. I can be very high-fashion, oh-kaaay?” Oh, okay, Bianca. You know high fashion all right — depending on your definition of the word ”high.” (That totally went over Bianca’s head, didn’t it?)

Seriously, though, these girls need professional help — and not from the King and Queen of Broke-down, Busted Tresses, either. Am I the only one who suspects that Mr. Jay and Miss J. are bound by their respective contracts (and the whim of taskmistress Tyra) to keep their hair in heinous, hilarious condition? I mean, at this point in Top Model history, I’m pretty much desensitized to Mr. Jay’s shellacked snow-princess hairstyle (cooked extra crispy!), and yet every once in a while, I’m forced to pause my DVR and wonder if said look is surreptitious payback for being a bad tipper down at the salon. And while I understand that Miss J.’s severely swept bun (tucked under a nurse’s cap) was all part of the scary sanitarium challenge, it doesn’t explain the unflattering half-fro he’s been sporting at panel. Come to think of it, Twiggy could probably benefit from a VO5 hot-oil treatment.

Thankfully, next week’s previews indicate Ken Paves is coming to the rescue, if not for the judges, then at least for the contestants. I just hope the stylist to the stars doesn’t think a couple of tasteful trims and subtle highlights are gonna do the trick. We’ve waited patiently for four weeks — hack jobs, painful extensions, and copious tears are not negotiable, Ken!

I just wish we could get an expert or two on the Top Model set to strengthen the overall appeal of cycle 9. At the risk of receiving a strongly worded Tyra Mail, here are a few sure-fire suggestions:

Let’s have a little more Tyra, and a lot less Miss J. Yes, yes, yes…I know Tyra drives you crazy. She takes a mildly amusing bit of whimsy, like talking to the contestants in a faux French accent, and extends it into three minutes of pure torture. (Or perhaps a misguided audition for a guest spot on a UPN sitcom?) But ultimately, the woman knows good television. Sometimes she offers herself as a punch line, grabbing Kimberly’s ears and exclaiming, ”I love these,” right after booting her from the competition. Other times she’s the clueless Oprah wannabe, praising Saleisha’s ”courage” for hanging upside down in a photo shoot. And then there’s the sweet, sweet cadence of her voice — ”Who? Will be eliminated tonight?”

If I’m being honest, I miss the occasional mid-episode Tyra sighting. I don’t want her special brand of infuriating crazy to be reserved for judges’ panel only. (I’d also like to see the return of the sadistic panel challenges, where the models teeter in death-inch heels and try to act out adjectives that aren’t in their vocabulary.)

Simultaneously, I’d like to see Miss J.’s contributions limited to three episodes per season, er, cycle. Let him don some dragtastic outfit, mumble some nonsense about runway as he did tonight (”Your job is to just bring anything you have on alive” — um, okay?), and stay far away from panel. I mean, if that ”I’m faaaalllling!” remark about Chantal’s shoot was the funniest thing Miss J. said during judging this week, then surely it’s time for Tyra to find a replacement gay who’s sassy, who enunciates his words, and who is not Benny Ninja.

NEXT: Bring on the noise!