Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned from Reality TV - Lesson 7

Lesson Seven: Mean Girls Do Cry

(You might think that reality television is one of the signs of the impending end of Western Civilization, BUT if you look closely enough, you can find some important life lessons. So, kids, here’s One to Grow On…)

America’s Next Top Model has some very special quotas it has to fill when casting potential modellettes.  Oh, sure, they have to be good-looking, but actual modeling chops, ability to walk, take a good photo, name a fashion designer?  Not necessarily required.

Rather, the quotas for Tyra’s crew are more about personality.  You need the sassy/edgy girl, the sheltered girl who is shocked by the others’ freewheelin’ ways, the quiet girl who turns out to be an unexpectedly great model, and so on. 

But, probably most importantly, Tyra needs the catty girl.  The girl who doesn’t mind or who is incapable of stopping herself from saying exactly, precisely, terribly what is on her mind.  Girls like Melrose Bickerstaff from last season, or new fan favorite (yes, that is sarcasm) Renee Alway.  When it comes to delivering a withering assessment of the skills (or lack thereof) of their competitors, they don’t hold back in interview. 

The curious thing about these girls is that for all their big talk, they can be the first to crumble when things get a little stressful. 

Melrose didn’t have any problem deflecting the criticisms of her peers; it rolled right off her back.  But when she didn’t win a challenge, or received a stinging critique from the panel, she seemed to find it much more difficult to get past it.  She took the bald-faced taunting of the other modelettes in stride during the television hosting challenge, but when she didn’t live up to her own expectations in the flamenco event, she was distraught.

It’s not just me calling Renee from the current season “catty;” she said it herself in the auditions.  And she has certainly lived up to it in the house, seeming to move from girl to girl to complain about the other girls.  Although she did give some begrudging credit to Brittany Hatch last episode, she also seems to have trouble acknowledging any positive skills on the part of anyone else.

But she, too, seems to have a tendency to dissolve into tears when she feels stress about her shoot or pressure.  During the “high school clichés” shoot, she clearly felt concerned about her performance, especially after not performing well in the prior week’s shoot.  After not knocking it out of the park as “class clown,” she basically lost it and let loose a teary tirade about how unfair it all was.  Last thing you would have expected from someone who talked so tough earlier in the show.

Sometimes it does seem that the girls – or at the least, how they are portrayed by the editors – are going out of their way to be unlikable.  But maybe the truth is they talk such a big game because – gasp! could it be? – they are a little unsure of themselves underneath it all?  Arrogance and cattiness might be their tough shells, but they have the same soft spots and squishy weaknesses as the other girls – maybe even more so. They might have been cast so that we could love to hate them, but it seems like there might even be a thin line for themselves between love and hate as well.

Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned from Reality TV:

Lesson 1: How to Wrestle Back Dignity from Utter Humiliation
Lesson 2: How to Lose Friends and Alienate Everybody
Lesson 3: The All-Tim Gunn Edition
Lesson 4: Why We Love Bad Boys and Girls
Lesson 5: Skills Don't Always Pay the Bills
Lesson 6: Law of the Jungle
Lesson 7: Mean Girls Do Cry


(Image Courtesy of CW)