Well, everyone, it's season -- excuse me, cycle -- 18 of America's Next Top Model. It started so late this year that I thought maybe the whole thing was a nine-year long bad dream. But nay! Top Model is back, this time with kicky accents. Yes, this season Tyra has pitted seven American models versus seven British models, just because she enjoys the smell of bombs bursting in air. The Americans are all total newbies, but the Brits have been on previous seasons of Britain's Next Top Model. Do you think they call them "cycles" over there? I'm sure there's some sort of rhyming slang involved, and they're actually known as "dickie-dykels" or something of that nature.
The competition gets underway with the world's very first "Fierce Parade." It's an actual parade, with exactly two floats. I'm sure people camped out all night to get a good spot on the parade route. Then, the contestants face off in transatlantic pairs, first by reading each other and then by stomping down the runway. Smack talk abounds! Later, the girls head to their house and discover that the Brits will be in one room and Americans in another. A spotlight is shown on our remarkable cultural differences as the Brits want to talk and get to know people on their first night in the house, while the Americans want to skinnydip and get bi-curious. No one has a terrible disease that we've heard about yet, but Scottish Ashley does cop to having two little kids and an utter lack of self-confidence.
The week's photo shoot pairs one US and one UK model per photo, representing iconic figures from their respective countries. I instantly wondered which American girl would get the task of representing Angelea. (NEVER FORGET.) Sixty cameras shoot the girls as they bounce on little trampolines so that a 3-D image is created. The pairings display the nonsensical sensibility you've come to count on from America's Next Top Model. Queen Elizabeth goes against George Washington, who in a tremendous display of historical accuracy is wearing a gold mini-skirt. Janet Jackson is pitted against Spice Girl Mel B., things get au courant with Madonna versus Elton John, Margaret Thatcher takes on Michelle Obama, Andy Warhol goes against Amy Winehouse (WTF, I know), and Jacqueline Kennedy is pitted against Princess Di. And then, of course, we have Pocahontas versus John Lennon. Now you know some stylist was getting desperate and hit the clearance costume rack at Party City. To make matters worse, the only Native American model to ever appear on the show is cast as -- you guessed it -- Pocahontas. Later on the judges are all like, "She's NATIVE AMERICAN, she really could have done more with that." With her Pocahontas costume! Oh my God! At least no one was in blackface this time.
At panel, we get introduced to new judge Kelly Cutrone. I have to cop to still not really understanding who she is. Something about PR and The Hills. What I do know is that she is NOT Andre Leon Talley, and for that alone gets a rating of "D(reckitude) minus." Kelly Osbourne is the guest judge. All of the contestants have their lips painted as either US or UK flags, which from afar makes it appear as if there's been an outbreak of oral herpes in the model house. Hot. Plus-sized American Seymone gets best photo of the week for her portrayal of Michelle Obama, who is apparently a huge fan of the show. And by "the show" I mean this show! What do I have to do to nudge her in the direction of RuPaul's Drag Race? And then, although Tyra claims that her own nationality does not bias her in favor of the Americans, six of the next eight contestants called next are from the U.S. It must be noted that the Brits do seem to be more prone to emotional breakdowns, which could either skew amusing or annoying. In any case, Brits Jasmia, who made a terrible John Lennon, and Ashley, who made a terrible Princess Di, find themselves in the bottom two. Though all the early attention on Ashley made her seem like a goner, it is in fact Jasmia who must head back across the pond, hopefully not to Liverpool.
Hello, friends! If you're out there just going about your life and not feeling really old, I'd like to drop some information on you. Yes, good people, it's the 18th season (or, to be precise, cycle) of America's Next Top Model. How did we get here, you may ask? Does this mean that it would actually be better if that whole Mayan calendar thing turns out to be true? All good questions, I assure you. I just did some rough math and discovered that I have written approximately 1,350,000 words about America's Next Top Model through the years. Over a million words! About America's Next Top Model! That factoid made me envision a tiny hole in my head from which gray matter leaks out in the form of over a million words about America's Next Top Model. To look on the bright side: at least we're not Nigel Barker.
Anyway, Tyra has a Fierce Flash for us! (Yes, she really said "Fierce Flash.") This just in: the British are coming! The British are coming! If only Paul Revere could come back from the dead and guest judge. The British who are coming are NOT Revolutionary War redcoats. Rather, it's the same pretty-ish morons we always are treated to, but with kicky accents. That's right, everyone. This season Tyra has pitted seven aspiring models from across the U.S.A. against seven up and coming imports from the U.K. These Brits have competed on previous cycles of Britain's Next Top Model, though I'm guessing none of them were winners. It's not the Fourth of July, or....Boxing Day?...but Tyra promises that we will see fireworks. Welcome to America's Next Top Model: British Invasion.
We enter with an introduction to American AzMarie, 24 from Milwaukee. AzMarie tells us that her androgyny is one of her greatest assets, and that she can butch or femme it up, depending on what's required. And I'm here to tell you that either way, she's excessively hot. Then we meet Sophie, 21, from Oxford, England. She points out that the dictionary is also from her hometown. Sophie says that America's Next Top Model is her ticket to cracking the American market. I mean, look at how well it's worked out for Angelea! (Angelea: NEVER FORGET.) Sophie appears to be a leopard print enthusiast, which does not bode well. We then meet Kyle, 20, from Magnolia, Texas. She grew up in a small country town and can't believe that she is in Universal Studios, a place designed specifically to appeal to people like herself. Throw on a big pair of white sneakers and a couple of crying kids, and she's basically amongst her kind.