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America's Next Top Model Goes Global 

Wednesday, May 20 2015

I really hate sports, but there is one thing I enjoy watching every year and that is the televised NFL drafts. Every kid sitting out there, hoping to be picked, has been working up to this moment since childhood. His entire family is gathered somewhere with seven-layer dip and a sheet cake. Mom dabs tears from her face; Dad wrings his hands. Little brother clutches a football and a CafePress T-shirt with his star bro's picture on it. And the middle brother with the weak chin — the one who was never particularly good at hand-eye coordination or following directions, and is frankly a big fucking disappointment — plots the massacre of his junior high school.

America's Next Top Model is the girlie version of the NFL draft. Though I cringe every time one of them says, "I've wanted to be a model since I was 5 years old!" I still enjoy — nay, obsess over — the show. This is possibly because it gets dumber with each "cycle." (There are cycles and not seasons, which is tres haute couture). One of the silliest highlights was host Tyra Banks' idea to make a pop song for the girls to sing called "Pot Ledom," which is (duh) "Top Model" spelled backwards. But what do we expect from someone who bragged that she "went to Harvard Business School" despite the fact that she merely attended an expensive seminar the elite institution offered. There's also some disingenuous stupidity in the idea that Banks dreams up every now and again to be more inclusive and allow short, big, and trans people a shot at their dreams. Don't get me wrong: I'm rooting for them, but the idea that they will be in Milan once the whole thing is over is ridic. Not that any winner ever ends up a top model; absolutely none of them has. In fact, many of them gain fame for other things, like meth abuse or being murdered.

So I think it's pretty clear why I love this show.

Now that I've mastered the art of mining the internet for free TV streams from all over the world — read my column from a few weeks ago about Kodi, Gentle Reader — I have been able to view as many of the Top Model franchises as I can. The show is produced everywhere from Cambodia to Kazakhstan, and while I'm sad to say I can't find either of those, I have come across a few others.

Top Model Brazil was perhaps the most surprising, because the girls were total woofers. Considering Victoria's Secret has a baby farm there where they impregnate perfect 10s and then incubate them in honey milk and thongs, this was strange. Another shocker was Top Model Sweden, which was full of chicks who looked like they should be the towel girls for your niece's soccer team.

But if you are an ANTM die-hard, several international franchises are worth checking out: Canada, Britain and Ireland, and Australia. Canada lasted only three seasons, but it was hosted by Iman, and she threw out enough David Bowie shout-outs that I was happy enough. The British-Irish version has gone through a few hosts and mentors but now it's Elle Macpherson, and she is quite likable. She has the ego of Tyra — are there any super models who don't? — but connects well with the girls, steeling herself against their many tears. If you are going to host this thing, you have to be OK with completely destroying young lives. Sign me up!

But the best in the entire world, hands-down, is Australia's Next Top Model. Not only do the young women look like supermodel material, the show seems to have a ridiculous budget. Alessandra Ambrosio showed up once, and the outfits they are given for their shoots are incredible. For instance, Jean Paul Gaultier hosted one episode and judged the girls on their pictures in his clothes. Aussie couturier Alex Perry is one of the hosts and judges, and he is straight out of an SNL sketch parodying the fashion industry. His lips are perpetually plumped and pursed, his buttocks clenched, and — my favorite — he always has a pair of sunglasses on top of his bald head. It's his signature, you see, and about as stupid as wearing them at night, or indoors, or day-in-day-out on a reality TV show premised on shallow ideals and hollow promises.

Good stuff!

About The Author

Katy St. Clair


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