They're baaaaaaack, and this time they're heading to Sin City! Yes, that's right, 34 semi-finalists head all the way to Vegas to try to impress their way into the final thirteen and/or catch a glimpse of Cher. The theme for Cycle 12 is apparently "goddesses," and has the girls dress up in mini-togas, take a profile shot in which they try to make their noses look as Roman as possible, and walk hideously on a runway covered in makeshift smoke machine clouds. All of this pales, however, to the emergence of the Goddess of Fierce, otherwise known as Tyra Herself. She is flanked by Spartan men and we get our first extraterrestrial comparison of the season.
Cycle 12 is full of sad stories and crazies, per usual. We have Sandra who is from Kenya and is totally a stealth bitch; London, who loves Jesus so much that she's compelled to preach on the street wearing crazy headbands; Jessica from Puerto Rico; burn survivor Tahlia who reminds us why it's a bad idea to leave your kid alone with a full coffee pot; gun-toting crazy conspiracy theorist Monique (who sadly doesn't even make it through the first cut); rich-ass Natalie; very tall Aminat; anxiety-riddled Kathryn, who somehow determines that the best way to impress the judges is to bring them samples from her pen collection; Alex the super-street white girl; epileptic Isabella; Nijah the prom queen; Fo(licia) with the freckles who refers to herself as "Blaxican"; Grandma Celia who has the audacity to be 25; plus-sized Kortnie who dated Dale Earnhardt, Jr.; Allison of the crazy eyes and blood fetish; tomboy Teyona; and Angelea, who had a daughter who died and has no business being a model.
The 34 are cut down to lucky 21 who must pose as goddesses with particular attributes. We get our first catfight of the season as Sandra and Angelea have it out to such an extent that they insult each others' feet. Angelea is upset because she doesn't want everyone to think she's ghetto, but Sandra remains stone cold. Sadly for Angelea, she doesn't make it to the final thirteen and has to go back to Buffalo, which is apparently the worst place on earth. Kathryn is also denied a spot and has only her pen collection to comfort her. The ones who do make it through to torture us for twelve episodes are: Aminat, Natalie, Fo, Allison, Tahlia, Celia, Nijah, London, Teyona, Kortnie, Isabella, Jessica, Sandra. But I've already stopped caring about these jerks because I'm all abuzz about the 5'7" and under policy for Cycle 13: The Season of the Shorty!
The second part of the two-hour premiere has the final thirteen going to New York City, where the streets are paved with breadcrumbs that are not part of a low-carb diet. The girls meet Nigel and Paulina atop the Empire State Building for the sole purpose of getting their house keys. Through some random key giving ceremony, Celia is told that she gets to choose the first bed in their phat Upper East Side pad, which contains an excruciating number of Tyra photos, and also some wall space decided to past winners. Sandra, who is basically a pill from the beginning of the episode to the end, picks a secluded bed because she is strongly against the making of friends. In sad news for her, Celia also wants that bed and bumps her. There are twelve beds for thirteen girls, and Sandra starts to get reeeeallly prickly. Just in time London intervenes and, like Jesus before her, offers to sleep on the floor. Also, in case you forgot, Isabella is epileptic and Tahlia is a burn victim. Illnesses!
The girls head to Guastavino's, near the 59th Street Bridge, to partake in a fashion show with designer Laura Poretzky from Abaete. There is a bad girl / good girl theme. Tahlia gets immediately upset because she's all covered up while the other models are showing skin. She seems completely unprepared for the insecurities and shame that come to the surface, which makes me think she really didn't give this whole modeling thing a lot of thought. Meanwhile, Isabella is nervous because strobe lights could make her have a seizure. She makes it through without incident, though. The same can't be said for Sandra, however, who loses her damn mind and doesn't even walk the whole length of the runway. The week's photo shoot is an homage to innocence that has the girls dressed up as little tykes playing beloved childhood games. Fo, a pre-school teacher, is a natural at ring around the rosie, and Allison and her doll-like countenance make double dutch fierce. Teyona's shot is also good, even though she has a small head. Tahlia is still feeling conflicted about her scars, and Tyra tells her that designers are either going to cover her up or fetishize her, so she might as well get used to it. In the end Isabella's dodgeball photo and Sandra's hide and seek shot land them in the bottom two. Sandra, most likely by virtue of dramatic potential at home, is the one who lives to see another week and torture her housemates even more.
It's back, bitches! Yes, that's right, it's Cycle 12 of Top Model, and things begin in as nonsensical a fashion as ever. To wit: "Welcome to America's Next Top Model Cycle 12. Reverse those numbers and what do you get? [Ding ding!] Top Model's lucky number, 21. We're going to Vegas, baby!" I mean, I guess there's some sort of logic that follows to get from Point A to Vegas, and it's the same logic that causes you to anoint yourself "The Goddess of Fierce." But we'll get to that momentarily. Tyra tells us that Vegas is not Sin City, but Indulgent City. You know what this means -- all-you-can-eat rib buffet! Anyhoo, Tyra has narrowed down thousands of depressing applications to 34 semi-finalists, and she's bringing them all to Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Oh my God, what if they run into Cher?!?!?! I can't even imagine how many "Snap out of it!" moments there would be. I suppose it's also possible that they could run into Celine, whom I always imagine just hanging around with a Cirque du Soleil clown/mime by her side. But I digress. Thirteen lucky girls will continue on in hopes of becoming America's Next Top Model, and in the process will have to endure the scorn of the entire Internets.
Our 34 semi-finalists ride together on a bus and squeal with glee. Celia, 25, says nothing of note but immediately distinguishes herself as a very blonde Jennifer Jason Leigh clone who is fond of menswear and could be the grandmother of every other contestant on the show. She'll have the oatmeal. Allison, 20, looks simultaneously like Shelley Duvall in The Shining and one of the twins from The Shining. Quite a feat, eh? She interviews that it's hard for her to interact with a lot of other girls, and that she's heard people call her creepy or strange. As evidenced by the above comment, I guess I am one of those people. Allison admits that she's socially awkward. Soon she will confess that she's as likely to kill you in your sleep as not. Angelea, 22, who looks a little like Octomom but with crazier nails, is the first of this cycle to declare that she's not here to compete in America's Next Top Best Friend. I think that's because she's here to cut you.
The girls line up at a fountain in front of which a crew of Trojans part and allow the Jays to emerge. None of that is a double entendre. They explain that this week Caesar's Palace will be renamed "The Temple of Tyra." Subtext: Tyra = Doom. The Jays are standing in front of a statue of Nike, the Goddess of Victory. Jay Manuel says that the girls should embody her spirit, poise and determination, while overlooking the fact that she has no damn head. Only a select few of these girls will go from mere models to full-on goddesses, like spawn sprung fully formed from Tyra's fivehead. Sandra, 19, tells us that she's from Kenya and is already an African queen and a goddess. And also a pill.