UPN’s America’s Next Top Model is presided over by a self-styled diva, Tyra Banks, but the Victoria’s Secret cover girl is smart enough to know that reality shows aren’t about the hosts. Banks takes a backseat to aspiring-mannequin archetypes like Robin, the plus-size proselytizing Christian; Elyse, the atheist waif; Shannon, the toothy Midwestern naif; and recently booted Ebony, the angry, bald lesbian. This summer sleeper forces these sex kittens to coexist in a Manhattan hotel suite, and it’s been fun watching the faux fur fly.
”Model” has been tops in quality among the summer’s post-”American Idol” talent shows because it requires no actual talent. (Sorry, but looking hot is not a skill.) The challenges, such as they are, bring the contestants into contact with hysterically flamboyant fashionistas like runway coach J. Alexander, whose motto is ”Walk like it’s for sale, and the rent’s due TONIGHT!” The series has also expanded the lexicon with the invention of such words as ”hoochified” and ”breasty.” And c’mon, who can resist a series that painstakingly chronicles its stars’ bikini waxes? This is the show ”Are You Hot?” should’ve been.