''America's Next Top Model'': The swimsuit issue
After the double whammy of a dance-off and a beer brawl in episode 1, the second installment of America's Next Top Model was a bit anticlimactic. There were no fabulous catchphrases to match the brilliance of Tiffany's ''Skank ho poured a beer on my weave!'' (And no, Kelle's repeated insistence that she's just ''a white girl with a really good tan'' doesn't count.)
The action started with the chosen 14 jaunting down to Jamaica for their first photo shoot. In bathing suits. The creepiness factor kicked in early when the flight got bumpy and jock Ann cried uncontrollably, wailing that the only person who could comfort her was tough girl Eva. After much whining (''Mama, I need you!''), she crawled into Eva's lap and fell asleep. Uh, sweetie, if you're serious about becoming the next supermodel, you best get used to flying.
Which brings me to my main beef with the series so far: At least half the contestants don't seem like serious supermodel material. You wonder whether these ladies were chosen as much for their sensational personal stories as for their looks. One of them is legally blind! One of them was a stripper! One of them had an abusive father! It makes for good TV, but let's face it: When it's booking its next ad campaign, Gucci does not care if a model is a single mom.
Anyway, back to the shoot: Tyra's sidekicks Mr. and Mrs. J were quick with the bon mots (a low-energy Ann was compared to ''a dead slab of meat''). And the girls had varying comfort levels in front of the camera. Ironically, prissy princess Kelle was characterized as ''hoochie,'' much to her dismay. But the one who was cut at next morning's brunch was nursing student Magdalena. Her sin? Seeming ''vacant behind the eyes.'' Because so many supermodels are paragons of intelligence.
No matter. The remaining 13 girls jetted back to New York and moved into their snazzy digs at the Waldorf-Astoria (where seemingly every lampshade is graced with Tyra's pouty visage). Creepy Ann moment number 2: She flew into a rage and told the other models to ''f--k yourselves'' after they refused to give up a bed so that she and Eva could room together. Then her anger was directed at Eva -- until Ann collapsed into a weeping mess, declaring, ''You will be in my wedding! I swear to God! I love you! I want you to win this more than I want me to win this!'' Does anyone else hear the Single White Female theme song yet?
The next elimination round was based on the finished photos from the Jamaica shoot. Last season's judge Janice Dickinson was back with her usual Botoxed snarkisms. (''She's not a dog,'' she said of one contestant.) And after channeling Dr. Phil in episode 1, Tyra snapped back into model mode, pontificating on the difficulty of sticking one's butt out while simultaneously sucking in one's stomach. (''It's really hard,'' she lamented. )
In the end, Leah, who was too ''soccer mom'' for Tyra's taste, got cut. But it's still a bit early to get too attached to any of the contestants. So in the meantime let's direct our rage towards the annoyingly fake ''Beauty Tips'' segments that Mr. J does with Cover Girl Model Elsa Benitez. It's bad enough that we're subjected to Cover Girl ads at every commercial break, but hearing Mr. J blather about ''too light, too dark or too frosted blush'' is just too much.
What did you think? Was the right girl released? Do any of the girls really have star quality?