America's Next Top Model

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School Daze

The girls take their initial round of photos. Katarzyna, age twenty-two, from Roslyn, New York -- but originally from somewhere much more Eastern European -- tells us that she went to Cornell. She thinks that this gives her an edge up on some of the other girls. Because, you know, brains and modeling go together like Mentos and Diet Coke. Marvita gets her picture taken and assures us that since last season, she's been working on herself and goes to therapy every Tuesday. The specificity in that statement leads me to believe that she's still a wackjob. We get a brief glimpse of Claire, who has half of a shaved head. And then there's Lauren, age twenty-two, from Brooklyn. She's a self-described punk and artist. She's been told that she should be a model, but always railed against it. Lauren wears a studded leather jacket that can only be described as rad. Though I'm generally suspicious of people who call themselves punks and/or artists, I'll give her a pass.

Allison, age eighteen, from Waunakee, Wisconsin, tells us with dead eyes that she's ready to annihilate the competition. She's a silent predator, she says. Except for the fact that she just told us she's going to kill everybody in their sleep. Try keeping it on the low, Vampira. We also meet Fatima, age twenty-one, from Boston. She was born in Somalia but grew up in the U.S. She says that she feels like an outcast sometimes, particularly in the African-American community. We have a brief encounter with Kim, who has a lot of pimples on her forehead and is apparently dumb as a jar of Noxzema.

The girls head into a classroom and sit. Their teacher, Miss J., enters and writes the name of their class on the chalkboard: Runway 101. Each girl will be evaluated on her walk according to a rubric that measures performance in categories ranging from "Fierce" to "Broke down." To make things more challenging, the girls will have to walk while wearing a very heavy leopard-print backpack. Lauren tells us that she is nervous because she has no experience on the runway. And how.

Miss J. gives the girls some tips, and they're off! First to walk is Shalynda, age twenty-three, from Washington, DC. This is her eighth time auditioning for Top Model She says that she has determination, and won't give up. I think turning that turning twenty-five and becoming ineligible to be a contestant on Top Model will be the best thing to ever happen to Shalynda. Claire, age twenty-four, from New York City, tells us that she's a mother and a wife, and that it's so hard to be away from her baby. So...don't leave your baby. I'm just saying. Marguerite, a nineteen-year-old blonde from Cincinnati, says that she's never done runway before and looks like a doofus. In all fairness, they all look like doofuses. Doofi? The doofusiest of all is poor Lauren. Frankly, I don't know how she even walks down the street. Miss J. says that she walks as if she doesn't have any circulation in her feet, and that if she's lucky enough to move forward, they'll have to create a miracle. That's encouraging! Anya, age eighteen, from Honolulu, tells us in some sort of weird accent/speech impediment that modeling is her life. She wakes up every morning thinking about it, and when she goes to sleep she has to take an hour just to breathe. The lack of oxygen during the other twenty-three hours of the day is starting to have demonstrable effects.

Next, the girls head to a football stadium that has a giant "Homecoming" banner and bonfire. Isn't it amazing that there aren't more bonfire accidents in the world? The Jays and a crew of cheerleaders stand in front of a pretty ratty float. But wait! These aren't just any cheerleaders. They're past contestants! Who, exactly, you may ask? Let's let Marvita tell us. "I knew that was Furonda. Okay, that's them two twins. That's Jael. Oh my God, that's that one girl." Poor Joanie, forever to be known as "that one girl" and to have footage of her filed-down teeth played endlessly on VH1 on a Saturday afternoon. Jay announces that Top Model is going home to New York City! Oh, thank God. Sadly, I don't think this means that The Tyra Banks Show has been canceled.

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America's Next Top Model

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