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The Amazing Race,
Dancing with the Stars,
American Idol and
America's Next Top Model.
Welcome to Tyraland, where models come in second to the upstaging antics of America's Next Top Model host Tyra Banks, a former supermodel who oozes excess like she's some contemporary Hunter S. Thompson.
Only Tyra's drug of choice is Tyra, and non-addicts are overdosing on her self-love.
This isn't anything new for someone who I suspect sneaks down to the kitchen every night to open the fridge just so she can stand in the spotlight. But this season seems to be even more Tyra-centric, and that isn't good news. Right from the start, she set the cheese bar low with a no-budget skit featuring the Jay boys as mad scientists and Tyra emerging as robo-Tyra from a cylinder.
As if that wasn't enough: Please, let my eyes stop burning from the princess party scene, when an uglified Miss J came as the crone who passes the poisoned apple to the fair maiden -- or in this case, Tyra.
Even her fellow judges seem to be getting tired of Tyra's narcissistic act. And that's not easy for a bunch of people who probably can't pass a mirror without taking a moment to bask in their own beauty. Noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker can't contain his disgust some weeks, and seems to be taking his anger out on some of the poor models who have to put up with Tyra, and even laugh and squeal at her bizarre behavior.
Barker thought pre-op transgender contestant Isis made too much of the fact that she was placed in a tight bathing suit and dunked underwater for Barker's pool shoot. Barker condemned the aspiring model for "just bobbing in the water ... [making] too much of a big deal" about the real fear of man parts popping loose.
You can't miss Paulina Porizkova's displeasure at Tyra's choices for the best models. When she sneered at a photo she said looked like the headless horseman in a pool of blood, Tyra snatched the photo back and declared "Fierce!"
Porizkova showed a face that looked like she'd just sucked a lemon, or watched that apple scene with Tyra again.
Let's keep in mind this is a television show, not a real search for America's next top photo fodder.
So the least the contestants deserve is to get their last few moments in front of the judges. Poor Hannah didn't even get that courtesy. We're not saying the gawky gal from Alaska didn't deserve to go. Just that walk down the bowling alley lane was enough to get her expelled. But she should have gotten her shot in front of Her Royal Psycho-ness to hear those golden words, "Two girls stand before me, but I only have one photo in my hand."
Instead, it was just Mister and Miss J saying they were the spokesmen for Tyra, so just pack your bags and skedaddle back to Alaska.
But you can't ignore the ratings, which show that women 18-34 don't mind Tyra's oddness. In fact, they embrace it. In last week's head-to-head competition, America's Next Top Model soundly beat Dancing with the Stars in the Nielsens.
And I know why. It's for those moments when fashion designer Jeremy Scott threw a justified hissy fit after model Samantha kept hiking up his creation past her lady parts on the runway after he specifically told her not to several times.
"You thought you saw a [stripper] pole down [at the end of] the runway," an angry Scott told Sam at the judging. "You are representing me and it's not your show."
Nope. It's Tyra's show. And she apparently knows what her people want.
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