America's Next Top Model
The Runway Ahead

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Djb: B- | Grade It Now!
YOU GRADE IT
And, When You're Least Expecting It, Ryan Seacrest

The opening credits of America's Next Top Model: The Runway Ahead reveal the gritty reality of New York: the "W" train I don't live at anymore. The heartbreak of being the second through eleventh girl not fit to dry-clean the hem of Yoanna's couture Zac Posen dress. The trials and tribulations of living with the unpredictably edited scourge that is TV-lupus. I missed it all so terribly. I still marvel at the way it always managed to make me feel so happy and so fat at exactly the same time. Good times. Good times.

"Our twelve finalists came from all over the country," the enormous, teetering bobble-headed likeness of Tyra "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" Banks barks into the camera, a statement so banal and generally uninformative that I'm actually relieved to play this sequence backwards and discover that she's actually saying, "Download my single from iTunes already or your kid isn't getting into T-Zone. Face it, America: I own the media." That's right. I'm saying I do prefer encoded subliminal devil messages to lamely-written copy. Which means I won't be happy with this continuing sentiment, either: the girls, Tyra says, came "from all different kinds of racial backgrounds" -- which is accompanied by a shot of April, herself apparently the human encapsulation of "all racial backgrounds"; "ethnic backgrounds" -- served up with a shot of wee Jenascia, because I guess when you grow up in a country as branded and marketed as ours, "Hooters Girl" becomes its own ethnicity; "and all shapes and sizes," Tyra concludes, a line accompanied by a shot of alleged "plus-size" Anna, whom we might have seen in her plus-size glory one day had she not gotten her tits stuck in a Bible and gotten Blahniked back to the backwater. "They all had something in common." They all think Canada is a state? "They all wanted to be America's Next Top Model." Oh. But also the one about Canada. Because models are all really dumb. And I'm the first person ever, ever to think so. Ever.

But if this show is about one thing, it's about the mysterious thirteenth model and her tough time, Tyra Banks. Hijacking a confessional booth and filibustering the episode away until someone meets her demand to download her single or else, Tyra all but crashes into an oncoming episode of Rock Me Baby when she continues continuing on, "Voting a girl off every week is really, really difficult." Clips of April with her boyfriend and Shandi with her mom are accompanied by Tyra telling us, "I really bond with the girls. I learn about their personal lives. Their boyfriends, their moms, their insecurities, their fears." She adds that choosing between the final two girls sure was hard, since they were all fighting for one girl or another, adding, "One moment I'm actually pulling for Yoanna and then five minutes later, I'm pulling for Mercedes." So who'd you settle on? No, just kidding. We all know that you have the final say and that the rest of the jury is made up of holograms culled from your own Sybil-esque imagination. Hint: we like you better as Janice. You're just more -- what's the word I'm looking for? Ah, yes -- drunker.

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America's Next Top Model

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