Oh boy, you guys. It's happening. Top Model is back for Cycle 14. Like an ungainly adolescent bursting forth with hormones and a bad attitude, it is designed to simultaneously torture and amuse you. To wit, our season opens with Tyra, replete in a black catsuit like she's about to try to steal the Baseball Diamond with Carla, Marla and Darla, comes strutting out of a limo, cameltoe trailing. She voices over, "When I dreamed up America's Net Top Model, all those years ago when Mr. Jay still had black hair, I did not imagine that it would become a worldwide phenomenon, seen in almost 150 countries." And really all this means is that we can cry for the state of the world, rather than just the U.S. The polar ice caps are melting and Top Model is being shown in Thailand. It's really all you need to know to make an assessment. Tyra continues, "Over 17 countries have created their own version of America's Next Top Model," with such hosting luminaries as Elle MacPherson, Vendela, and Heidi Klum. Poor Canada gets Jay Manuel, though maybe that's fitting since the entire country smells like cupcakes. We're now in Cycle 14, and Tyra assures us that the show has plenty of tricks up its couture sleeves. Who will cry at the makeovers? Which girl will have the fiercest walk? What photo shoot will push the girls to their breaking points? They're universal questions on par with, "Is there a God?" and "Where do we go when we die?" But also Tyra reminds us that Andre Leon Talley has joined the judging panel, proving that you really can't ever count this show out. I fully expect him to emerge, pretend he's having some sort of attack, and faint into a resplendent somersault like Gene Wilder in the original Willy Wonka movie.
Thirty-two "beauties" have come to Los Angeles to begin this competition. The first one we meet is Naduah, 22, from San Diego. Her bald head and vaguely European accent call to mind a more alienesque version of Sinead O'Connor in her ripping-up-pictures-of-the-pope years. We will soon learn a whole bunch more about Naduah, and I think can expect her to be around for the long haul. The girls land at the Universal Sheraton in a cloud of excitement, and we get brief glimpses of several of them. One of the more memorable is Alasia, 18 from Marietta, Georgia, who tells us that she's ready to whip these bitches apart because she's mean competition. Emphasis on "mean."
The girls collect in a room where they see, projected on the wall, Tyra's "MyFierce" page. (Incidentally, if you try to go to myfiercepage.com, you're automatically redirected to the CW website. I do these things so you don't have to.) Yes, social networking is apparently something of a theme this season. The fact that Tyra had the opportunity to go with "FierceBook" and didn't says something both about her overall relevance and general command of the language, I think. But hey, that's one bangin' profile picture. And then, Tyra's profile picture comes to life via "TyChat." She says she has 32 model friend requests, and has to narrow them down. To help her, she has enlisted the Jays, who pop up in their own individual TyChat windows. I bet the short conversation they have at this moment is, in fact, indicative of an actual conversation between the three of them -- full of inane chatter about their respective hairdos and words like "fantasticals" and "are we ready to get this party started." Please, Andre Leon Talley, come quick and save us!