I'll admit it -- "America's Next Top Model" had gotten a little stale for me over the last few cycles. The show was hitting all the same marks, the girls seemed to fall neatly into certain familiar categories, and there are only so many spins you can put on going on a look-see. So, I'm not surprised that the show is resorting to that tried-and-true spin of putting together an all-star cast. Sure, it's predictable, but it worked -- I'm tuning in, in part to see how the girls have changed, who's working and who needs this show just to take a break from her cashier gig at Target (all I'm saying is that modeling is a tough industry; not everyone makes it. And, you know, some of these girls are either so combative or so ditzy they're not exactly good candidates to become captains of industry).
After an over-the-top "funny" intro, in which Tyra dreams of past cast members (while playing said cast members) and finally decides to do an all-star cycle just to get them out of her head, we quickly review how super fabulous the prizes are for this season. Not only do they have a shot at being a special guest talking head on "Extra," they get a deal with CoverGirl and lots of coverage in Italian Vogue and their own blog on the magazine's website. A blog? Okay, well, for the most part the prizes are super fabulous (Tyra certainly seems excited) and best of all, there will be celebrity judge/mentors! Like the Kardashians! Well, I will say, if the point of this cycle is to create a brand, the Kardashians are actually a good choice. Just don't let them comment on the clothes. Other celebrity guests include LaToya Jackson, Kristen Cavallari, Tyson Beckford, Kathy Griffin, Ashlee Simpson, Game and Nicki Minaj.
And back to the "creating your brand" angle. The models won't just pose for pictures this time around. They'll also co-write a song, star in a music video and audition for "CSI." Well, this is definitely going to be more interesting than a look-see, although i foresee some truly awful music in my future.
Oh, and wait! There's more! Tyra informs us there will be new lingo! Pot Ledom! That's Top Model backwards! Wow, that is BAD. Let's scrap the new lingo, please. If anyone I know uses Pot Ledom in a sentence, I swear I will slap them.
Finally, the models start filtering into the house. First up is Angelea Preston (Cycle 14). She's still 716, still classy ghetto. She immediately hist the champagne. Angelea has never been my favorite model, but she's always ready to say crappy things about her castmates, so glad to see her.
Laura Kirkpatrick (13) is a little bit country and a little bit fashion, like a couture Donny and Marie. She's also a working model, which she is very eager to mention. Okay, Laura, we didn't think you were working on a trawler or anything.
Bianca Golden (9) brings her diva self back to the show. Angelea knows if she gets into it with anyone, it will be Bianca. Hey, can we get through the first episode without planning our catfights for the season? Just a thought.
Lisa D'Amato (5) has recorded her first album. But what everyone knows about her is that she peed in her diaper. I'm wondering if maybe Lisa should have come back, as now that footage is going to be replayed and rehashed and talked about alllll over again. But hey, I'm sure she figures total embarrassment is worth it if she sells a few downloads.
Bre Scullark (5) appears. and Bianca is so mad. Bre wanted to surprise her! Bianca did not want to be surprised! But they're best friends. They moved to Chicago together. They snipe at one another briefly, then move on. Bianca will find someone else to yell at, I'm sure.
Brittany Brower (4) feels her career will really begin on this show. Oh, it's never a good idea to pin your hopes on reality TV, hon.
Dominique Reighard (10) stopped with the modeling to have a family life, but now she's back. For someone who's had kids, she looks amazing. I'm just going to hate her a little while admiring her genetics a great deal.
Sheena Sakai (11) wants to show she can do more than model, and she has done TV work, hosting, etc. So, she has shown she can do more than model. I guess she just wants people who watch "ANTM" to know she can do more than model.
Isis King (11) has grown into her body following sex reassignment surgery. She looks a little too thin, but hey, she's a full-out she now, so I'll just say good for her. Not everyone fares so well after a sex change. Sorry, Chaz Bono.
Kayla Ferrel (15) feels no one recognized her because her hair is no longer red, but they'll surely remember she's a "proud lesbian." Well, if they don't, I'm sure she'll tell them.
Allison Harvard (12) admits to being a little awkward and weird, but she's seemingly not actively pursuing modeling and is instead doing art directing. You know, probably for the best.
Camille McDonald (2) the diva returns. Angelea quickly declares major bitch alert. Oh yeah, Angelea is going to get all manner of stuff stirred up this season, you just know it.
Shannon Stewart (1) is the girl who wouldn't pose nude. She doesn't just want to e a model but a role model. I'm still not sure how a model gets work if she won't wear lingerie or get at least semi-naked, but I guess Sears has its catalog.
Alexandria Everett (16) wants to correct the misconceptions people may have had about her. So, she's not an angry woman who is not to be bleeped with? She seems a little sad already, as if she knows trying to correct misconceptions on a reality TV show when you have NO control over how you're being edited is like eating peas with chopsticks.
The girls grab their rooms with a minimum of drama and Mr. Jay arrives to inform them their first photo shoot will be in the backyard ASAP. They'll be portraying their "ANTM" personas, just bigger.
Who will meltdown first? Hmmmm... wait, we have a candidate! Bianca is not happy to get red hair. It's such a step backwards! She isn't that girl anymore! But she sucks it up, ultimately, and does her best. Except her best isn't very good, as she looks miserably uncomfortable in her photos.
Kayla goes into the wardrobe room and just knows she's wearing the big gay flag. And SHE IS. Wow, that's not cliche or mildly offensive or anything. But hey, she is the proud lesbian, I guess.
Next meltdown! Shannon doesn't want to wear underwear, even if she's wearing it OVER a bikini. She'd rather just wear the scanty bikini bottom which shows a great deal more than wearing the underwear. Um, what? Mr. Jay thinks she's a little confused. I think she needs a rule book to keep her never nude/no underwear policy straight.
After the shoot, the girls learn are about to be judged -- but publicly, at L.A. Live. And their guest judge is Nicki Minaj. Whoot! I'm not sure what Nicki Minaj will contribute, but who cares? She definitely can judge attitude and confidence, I have no doubt.
Nicki will be joining Tyra, Nigel Barker and Andre Leon Talley. Ah, some things never change, and in this case, that's okay.
Lisa D'Amato is up first. Nicki thinks she rocked it. Allison Harvard walks the runway as Little Bo Beep. Nigel thinks she's one of the most photogenic people and Nicki would stop to look at her photograph if she saw it in a magazine.
Angelea is next. Andre thinks she's projecting hood, but Beverly Hood. This is a good thing. Nigel thinks he sees a softer side in Camille's photo, and this is also a good thing. Tyra thinks her legs are even better seven years later, and how many people can say that?
Dominique had a baby two months ago, which impresses not only the judges but the crowd. Nigel thinks she looks very feminine in her photo, which I'm thinking must take some doing.
Andre loves the innocence and the confidence in Shannon's photo. But Nicki says she's holding a lot back and, for some unknown reason, she says this in an English accent. That wacky Nicki Minaj.
Alexandria walks down the runway -- and is the first model to get booed. She tries not to cry. But it gets better! Nicki hates the picture. Nigel doesn't like it, either. Oh, Alexandria, I hope you didn't unpack.
Sheena rocks the runway in a vintage jumpsuit, but Nicki thinks her photo looks amateur. Tyra says her challenge is to bring her real life sassy to celluloid.
Brittany is up next. Nicki would like to see some leg extension. Tyra is impressed that Nicki knows how to critique a picture. Well, she did say she was a fan. And don't worry, Tyra. You'll get some useless blathering out of at least one Kardashian.
Isis' photo shows her sort of... I don't know, she's on all fours except one leg is held at an impossible angle. But the judges love it, and Andre thinks she's the new mermaid.
Bianca walks up with her attitude. Nigel thinks her photo feels vintage. Andre is feeling Foxy Brown. I'm not sure he thinks this is a great thing, but come on, Foxy Brown is never a bad thing.
Bre takes the stage. Andre thinks her photo is cliche. Nicki doesn't like her hair and thinks the photo is dull.
Kayla announces that she is a super gay. While this is fine with the audience, the judges aren't in love with her photo. Andre thinks her fist is a mistake. Nicki loves the outfit but nothing else. Ouch.
Cow castrater Laura is next. Her grandma Wanda Sue made her dress. Andre thinks she makes "Hee Haw" high fashion.
The judges go behind closed doors to debate. Andre does not like Brittany, but Nicki disagrees. Sorry, Nicki, but no one's listening to you. I mean, Tyra was surprised you could look at a picture and say anything relevant. Nigel didn't like Lisa's picture. Shannon's weirdness about underwear is a problem. Andre hated Bre's picture but thinks she's a personality. Tyra is surprisingly reserved (for Tyra). She seems to be feeling a certain compassion for her all stars, but maybe that's just because it's the first episode or she just woke up from a nap. Or she might have used all her energy for the day on that awful intro.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jay and Miss Jay run around in the crowd, asking people who they like and dislike. Apparently this is going to play a major role in the judges' decision. Or at least that's what the producers would like us to believe.
Time to hand out photos. Man, this episode is moving fast.
Best photo is… Isis. Huh. I didn't love it, but it was interesting. Points for being able to hold that weird pose.
Tyra hands out photos to Allison, Camile, Lisa, Angelea, Laura, Bre, Bianca, Shannon, Dominique, Sheena, and Kayla. The two left on the stage are Brittany and Alexandria.
Tyra doesn't go for the throat but instead pins the final decision on the audience. No one remembered Brittany, and people hated Alexandria. But they're keeping Alexandria. Huh? She's going to stick around because of polarity. Love and hate are both valuable, though Tyra suggests she try to work on the love part. I'm surprised, but Brittany was a bit more of a blank in some respects, though I'm sure the girls in the house would have found her easier to get along with.
Brittany is shocked to be going home and wonders if she should have peed in a diaper like Lisa to make people remember her. See, I said we were going to be reminded of that diaper over and over and over again.
Do you think the judges made the right choice? Are you excited to hear the models songwriting skills? Are you happy to have an all-star cycle?