The new season of ''America's Next Top Model'' kicks off by making the girls strip, then has them portray typical model excesses

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated September 21, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: America's Next Top Model: De Yonker/The CW

”America’s Next Top Model”: A whole nude cast

Hello, niblets, and welcome to the America’s Next Top Model TV Watch! I am honored to have the opportunity to come before you in this format and discuss something that does not involve Donald Trump, and I vow to maintain my usual loving, caring tone unless this show does something to piss me o—

Oh, too late. Niblets, I was outraged — outraged — by tonight’s premiere. To be more specific, I was totally befuddled and a little offended at the producers’ decision to take a group of 18 girls who have never modeled a day in their lives (let alone, in some cases, left their small towns) and insist that they pose nekkid on a rooftop in front of strangers in order to make it on the show. Is this because I am a prude? No — and, for the record, I do believe in the existence of ”tasteful” nudity. Okay, so then what’s my problem? It is several-fold, and because I have the floor, I shall list those problems now. Later, you can use the comment space to tell me why I’m a moron. But first, at least hear me out:

1. It was like a bad parody of what mothers all over America must think is going to happen to their pert young daughters the minute they move to L.A.: Some lecherous photographer is gonna persuade them to do some ”tasteful” nudity for his ”portfolio,” and 12 years later, after they’ve made it big as an actress, those photos are gonna get sold to Star for millions of dollars. Frankly, just living up to such a bad cliché is offensive enough…

2. …But no, they had to take it a step further and have Mr. Jay remind the girls that ”this is what it takes” to make it in modeling. Hmm. I am not an expert, but I think there’s a damn good chance that at least one or two models have found their way to success without nuding it up for the camera. I also think that telling a bunch of newbies that if they have ”what it takes,” they won’t mind taking it all off is both incredibly irresponsible and eerily reminiscent of the casting couch.

3. It caused the girls to turn on each other right from the start and get separated into prude-nonprude camps. You’ve got Psycho CariDee and Cha-Cha Jaslene humping the platform; meanwhile, California pig farmer Becky and Republican Ginger are crying as the other girls look on, derision written all over their faces. And worst of all, when Becky — who finally went through with it — saw that Ginger only had to shoot two frames, she proclaimed that to be ”not fair” and then demanded that Ginger be immediately eliminated on principle (probably just because Becky didn’t think of that plan first). All I have to say is props to Ginger for this quote: ”It’s not important to me just to win something. I’m gonna stick to my morals and standards no matter what.”

4. Hey, guess what, Ginger? You’re not gonna win something, because you didn’t make it through the cut. (Interestingly, neither did Becky or, for that matter, Jaslene.) And this brings me to my final point: They made the girls do this with absolutely no guarantee they’d get on the show. And that, my friends, is just mean.

So I took a deep breath, you know? I can only get so annoyed about the lack of common sense that went into that challenge, but I will say I found it amusing that the next challenge — the first real shoot for the finalists — was deemed One of the Most Controversial Shoots Ever: skewering model stereotypes like ”the Dumb Blonde,” ”the Casting Couch” (hey!), ”the Cell-Phone Thrower,” and ”the Anorexic.” Ooh, edgy, ANTM! Speaking of model stereotypes, does the one about how ”They Can’t Act” apply to the bizarre, French-accented tantrum Tyra threw in front of everyone as an example?

Your finalists:

Monique The resident sociopath, she was appropriately given the cell-phone-throwing shot, in which she came nowhere close to proving that she (a) can model or (2) has ever thrown anything in her life. She also stole another contestant’s bed and declared that she would not be taking short showers because ”I don’t do that.”

Jaeda Sweet (took care of Ginger during the nudity freak-out) and slightly mannish, she was asked to play a plastic-surgery addict and responded by not moving her face.

Michelle and Amanda My theory is that they didn’t find any decent plus-size models during auditions, so they went with twins as a gimmick. Luckily, it looks like these two have the goods (no matter how unassuming they seem): With Amanda portraying anorexia and Michelle bulimia, they turned out two of the best photos ever seen on this show. Amanda lucked into hers. Michelle’s was all talent. Both were pretty damn stunning.

Eugena Smart, mature, kinda bitchy, and didn’t snap when Monique stole her bed. I like this girl, even though her ”black girl turned into white girl” photo made no sense conceptually and was sorta boring.

Brooke Tiny Texan blond thing who likes to rap. Her task was to push another model down the stairs; resulted in her hair being far more interesting than her face.

Anchul An Indian girl who Tyra has called ”so pretty it’s scary” and who cries every time she talks about her eye color. Portrayed a narcissist rather awkwardly, but does photograph well, especially after they airbrush out the bags under her eyes. Which are probably from all the crying, now that I think about it.

A.J. My early favorite, she’s a black-haired real-live rock chick (for a fake one, see below) who knows how to dress and how to walk and kicked ass in her casting-couch shot. Got to judging and suddenly had a personality transplant, turning into a meek little whimpering thing. I choose to believe she’d just gotten a really upsetting phone call beforehand or something.

Megg Absolutely intolerable fake rock chick who looks a little like Blossom and has apparently been screaming at high volume for the last 10 years of her life (her voice shows it). Was in charge of playing a burnout and is winning raves from the judges for being a knockout, especially when she stops squinting. I don’t see it. Expect me to use Yelly McYellsalot as a punching bag often.

Megan Remember Kim? From season 5? Drop the androgyny about 15 percent, and you’ve got Megan. She played model with lapdog, and while she looked hot as hell during the shoot, her ”best” shot was pretty horrible. Not sure what went wrong there, but I’ve got hope for the future. Also, her sob story — she was in a plane crash when she was 9; her mom died saving her life — is hands down the best I’ve ever heard.

CariDee The aforementioned psycho, she handled the dumb-blonde pic just fine.

Melrose Might as well start calling this 23-year-old Gramps right now, since I sense that will be a theme. Totally gorg, she won the reward challenge (runway walking in men’s clothes from what appeared to be the world’s first fashion-designer boy band) and was given a personal assistant for the day of the shoot, as well as a massage that lasted right up until it was her turn to pose; she then got a little anal about her makeup and gave Mr. Jay a little bit of attitude and was promptly reprimanded and almost sent home. So here’s my other quibble with this episode: How dare they treat the poor girl like a diva all day, then yell at her for acting like a diva, and then demand that she act like a diva in her picture? That is some seriously whacked-out psychological warfare right there.

Christian You kind of don’t need to know much about her except that she did a hell of a good Tyra Banks impersonation — and got kicked off for not looking enough like a model turned actress. Or a model, for that matter. Which is ironic, if you think about how good her Tyra Banks impersonation was.

So there ya have it. I’m pretty psyched for this season, all initial revulsion and feminist theory aside. There are already a couple strong personalities forming, but there is no one except Megg, in my opinion, who seems like she’s got no business being there — and I work best when my wrath has a single target. They’ve got a cool new trick in judging, where they show a split screen of the model in real life next to the model in her photo; Tyra mail is coming on fun little subscription cards stuck into magazines; and the hot tub is big enough to hold every single one of the girls at once. The only thing I must ask is that those twirling twins not become a fixture. Seriously, of all the special guests they’ve had on this show, those guys were the biggest sensation? I no get.

Finally, let us all spend our week reciting and memorizing the following:

”The first is a contract with one of the top modeling agencies in the world, Elite Model Management. The next is a cover of Seventeen magazine and a six-page editorial spread in Seventeen magazine as well. And the last [thank God] is a $100,000 contract with Cover Girl cosmetics.”

Gilles Bensimon, we hardly knew ye.

What do you think? Was the nudity too much, too soon? Do you have any early favorites? And who do you want to see go?

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