Well take a picture of me and hang it in your salon. This shit is going legit. Gone are the days of Ann Shoket and her ghetto Seventeen cover shoot. This year, the girls are competing for a feature in Italian Vogue and a contract with IMG, along with the traditional Cover Girl contract. Thank you, Mr. Talley! Additionally, luminaries such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Roberto Cavalli, and Patrick Demarchelier will make cameos. We have to endure the story of Tyra's discovery (which is really just a convenient excuse for her to wear a schoolgirl uniform) before we get to the real action: bitches.
The semi-finalists head to Palm Springs for their panel interviews. There's one repeat contender -- Kacey, who failed to make Cycle 11. I remember her not at all. But apparently she raps. Other early standouts include 6'2" Addams extended family member Ann, who looks like she's taken a turn in the taffy puller; sweet mop-headed poverty-stricken near-albino Kayla; Miss Teen Minnesota and inspiration for the Hall and Oates song "Rich Girl" Vanessa, hippy dippy plant-inspired stoner Rhianna, 30G-boobed orthodox Jew Esther, semen-hater Kendal, and Tweedledum and Tweedledee doppelganger sisters Terra and Chris. The girls have been placed in broad categories such as "sexy," "brunette," and "quirky," and are told that they're competing with others like them. They are charged to stand out amongst the crowd in fashions by Miss Cynthia Rowley, who also makes a cameo.
Of course there is some drama. Lexie, with the help of some shit-stirring from Kacey, places herself in the midst of drama surrounding Jordan, the pretentious pop culture hater who may or may not want to really be there. And someone read West Virginia resident Emily's diary, in which she stated that she almost got a black roommate -- "Ew." Emily states that it's a big misunderstanding, even though the words "Black girl -- ew" are pretty unequivocal. No one addresses the fact that it's pretty crunk to read someone else's diary.
We lose Vanessa and Emily in the first cut, and they take it with a disappointing lack of histrionics. The rest of the girls get to attend a garden party photo shoot with Cynthia Rowley, who by the looks of it has gone mad. The models must pose in duos with their most direct competition. Cynthia pretends to be impressed. Tyra and the Jays talk it out and decide on the fourteen finalists: Annamaria, Kendal, Rhianna, Chris, Jane, Chelsey, Liz, Sara, Lexie, Esther, Kacey, Kayla, Ann and Terra. Let the competition begin!
The bitches are back! Yes, everyone, it's Cycle 15. Can you believe we've wasted this much collective time? Tyra begins the episode by voice-over asking when a model becomes a real top model. The answer is: when she lands on a high-fashion magazine cover. You may be wondering what this has to do with America's Next Top Model, pimper of the Seventeen Magazine advertorial. Tyra then goes on to say that Italian Vogue -- otherwise known as Vogue Italia -- is the best of the best and has launched careers from Claudia Schiffer to Christy Turlington to Linda Evangelista. Basically, Vogue Italia made the "Freedom 90" video possible. "Guess what?" Tyra asks. You, like me, may be tempted to reply "chicken butt." But Tyra has steeled herself against such flippancy and answers her own question thusly: "In Cycle 15 of Top Model, one lucky girl will get the opportunity of a lifetime. Because she's gonna skip straight to the top and have her career launched in Italian Vogue." And I have to say that with that announcement, Tyra wiped the smirze (smirking with your eyes) right off of my face. Color me Burberry Plaid -- after fifteen seasons this shit decided to go legit. Don't let the door hit you in the ass when you leave, Ann Shoket!
But wait! Don't you fear that just because this season has committed itself to finding a high fashion superstar that it will lose all of the reprehensible hallmarks that made you love/hate it in the first place. To wit, Tyra yet again regales us with the story and pictorial evidence of her transition from lanky teenager to lusted after/reviled supermodel to self-righteous fat-ass. And she does so, in Catholic schoolgirl uniform, from the steps of her former high school. It was there she was discovered on the first day of ninth grade. Tyra was sitting on a bench -- and at this we cut to a photo of Tyra sitting on a wall eating a sandwich while not in a schoolgirl uniform of any kind -- when someone asked her if she was a model. We reenact this scene with Tyra in her uniform reading a book that has "Algebra II MATH" scrawled on its paper-bag cover. If that person had not interrupted Tyra at this moment, she might have gone on to be a nuclear physicist. Tyra tells us that she was the awkward girl, used to being stared at and made fun of. This just goes to show that you can blossom from ugly duckling to gorgeous supermodel swan, and people will still make fun of you. One to grow on, people. Tyra had lots of rejection from every agency in town. Until she didn't, and then she'd go on go-sees after school. On the bus. Excuse me now as I have a small fantasy about 13 year-old Tyra encountering Rosie O'Donnell's Beth Simon. Eventually, of course, Tyra became a super-famous supermodel. What took her four years to achieve -- yes, that's right four years from nobody to famous zillionaire, how could anyone endure such suffering? -- she's going to make happen for one young girl in just 12 weeks.