America's Next Top Model
The Girl With The Secret

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Look, you guys! It's Tyra! And photos of Tyra! And Tyra on the runway! And the alien from Close Encounters...I mean, a glamorous beauty shot of Tyra! As we can surmise by the giant gust of wind blowing her extensions to and fro, "Being a top model ain't no picnic." Unless the menu features lettuce with a side of Ex-Lax. Tyra tells us that last year's winner, Yoanna, went from being a babysitter (read: fat) to becoming America's Next Top Model (read: appearing on the cover of Psychology Today). Now, a new deluded famewhore is ready to take her place. Let's dive in, shall we?

Picture it: Los Angeles, 2004. The semi-finalists arrive! We are first introduced to Amanda, age twenty-five, from Hendersonville, North Carolina. She has some huge-ass glasses. Huh. I wonder if that in any way foreshadows an important plot twist. Toccara, age twenty-two, is from Dayton, Ohio and describes herself as "great" and "fabulous." Cassie, nineteen, hails from Oklahoma. Then there's some crazy-ass bitch who travels with a teddy bear. Whatever, she doesn't make it.

The girls convene at Le Meridien hotel in Beverly Hills (that means The Meridian for you Francophobes). Mary, age twenty-two, says that she's "sizing everybody up," just as we see a shot of her plus-size self dismounting from the airport shuttle. I size her up as 48G. Natalie, age eighteen, loves competition, and also competing with people. Diversity is her forte.

Jay Manuel gives the girls their official welcome to L.A. Rats. I was hoping he'd go the way of J.Lo's makeup artist, but he seems to have inexplicably retained his position as "art director of photo shoots." This seems to lend credence to my secret theory that Tyra is a man, because Jay must be blowing someone to keep that job. But who am I to judge? A boy's got to keep himself in highlights, after all. Jay explains that the girls will meet with a panel of judges who will evaluate them on face, body, and "potential" (read: to create drama), and that there will be cuts later in the week. The real competition starts tomorrow, which means tonight is all about...pool party! All right!

The girls socialize and stare wistfully at the untouched cheesecake on the buffet table. One girl explains that she was raised in Oklahoma, and spent her days among cows. She should feel right at home here, then. Taking their cue from ebony and ivory living together in perfect harmony side by side on my piano keyboard, Eva, age nineteen, and Ann, age twenty-one, have become fast friends. They toast to their ultimate fate as the top two. Let's make a mental note of this.

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America's Next Top Model

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