Friday, October 29, 2004

Breakfast In Bed, With a Knuckle Sandwich

On this week's "America's Next Top Model," Tyra Banks sneaks into the apartment while the contestants are asleep. She awakens each and every one of them with a merciless beating. No, seriously. She flings herself on their beds and just slaps the crap out of them. The contestants are delighted. "My jaw was just fractured by Tyra Banks! The Tyra Banks!" I have to believe this was staged. For one thing, if somebody pulled that nonsense with me, I'd instinctively grab onto something -- say, an alarm clock or a table lamp -- and smash it into my attacker's face before I'd even opened my eyes. I'm just sayin'.

Tyra has brought along a plus-size model and a nutritionist, and she gatheres the contestants to talk about body image and proper eating habits. She offers the contestants one-on-one counseling. Cassie confesses to Tyra and Co. that she binges-and-purges occasionally, which in her mind isn't an eating disorder. Except that it totally is. Bonus creepy moment: in a phone call, we learn that Cassie's boyfriend knows that she has an eating disorder, and doesn't seem terribly upset about it. Right on, dude! No fat chicks! Jackass.

Cassie has another problem: the other contestants hate her. Cassie keeps to herself and she's kind of a slob, or as Alliterative Albino Amanda puts it, "a sloppy slut." Cassie whips up a batch of low-carb brownies that none of the other contestants are allowed to eat and leaves the kitchen a mess. The He-Ann Cassie-Haters Club (a.k.a. Ann and Eva) swings into action. Ann seizes a knife and carves into the brownies a demand that Cassie "clean up [her] shit." Eva keeps watch. The other ladies giggle and shush one another. Kelle merrily anticipates "Drama!" When Cassie discovers the vandalism, she's naturally upset. But then she takes it to a weird extreme where the mutilated brownies act as some kind of rape metaphor. She interrogates all of the roommates. Nobody owns up to the crime. Did I say "crime?" This sounds like a job for... Saint Ya Ya! Did you know that Ya Ya is a nurturing caregiver? Yeah, me neither. That's because Ya Ya is actually a condescending twit whose sole agenda is to impress other people with her moral superiority. Ya Ya is fresh out of Buddhist robes and nuns' habits, so she instead dons the most passive-aggressive T-shirt she owns. Dinner that night takes place at Moby's famed restaurant, "Teany," where the patrons may subsist only on select lichens and the very air itself. The other contestants are intrigued by Ya Ya's T-shirt, which is emblazoned with a Portugese word. Ya Ya regally explains that the word means "respect." As a ray of light illuminates her face, a dove with an olive-branch in its mouth lands on her shoulder, and the table centerpiece bursts into heavenly flame, Ya Ya tells them that they need to respect one another more. This goads Ann into confessing, but it only makes Cassie even angrier. She's so angry she could cry! And then she cries. In the background, a pale, stunted vegan waitress schleps dishes, looking none-too-pleased by the presence of so many aspiring models.

The next morning, the women attend a grueling "boot camp" style workout. Most of the women are excited by the indoor obstacle course. Apparently they'd spend all their waking hours at "Chuck E. Cheese," if the food wasn't so fattening. The drill instructor tries to look like a total badass, with fatigues and a crew cut and a scrubbly goatee, but the effect is completely ruined by his severely plucked eyebrows. He claims to be a former military man. In what branch? The Kiss Army? Cassie's body is currently devoid of all nutrients, so she's weak and miserable and not the least bit motivated, even when she's yelled at by The Prettiest Sergeant Ever. After the workout, the women head down the street to another building, where they are greeted by the very same drill instuctor! He's a witch! (Well, he does have eyebrows like Billie Burke.) The women now have to run up fourteen flights of stairs, straight to the roof, where they will immediately be photographed in the most alluring poses they can muster. All that running makes Eva want to throw up, but she can't quite commit to it. ("HUCK!" Pause, stagger a few feet. "HORP!") Nothing comes out. She should ask Cassie for pointers.

The next day, the women are photographed while bouncing on a trampoline. Taking the judges' previous advice to heart, Ya Ya succeeds in looking less 'like a dancer" and more like a total spaz. Ann inexplicably brutalizes herself, slamming her body face-first into the trampoline. She ends up with a lot of scrapes and a "best photo" that makes it look like she's been shot out of a cannon. Kelle's boobs slip the surly bonds of both Earth and her outfit. Even pixelated for family viewing, the liberated breasts flop gaily about, and with more grace and abandon than the rest of Kelle's body combined. Kelle keeps jumping up and down, grinning moronically, while people scream at her to tuck her breasts back into her dress. Everybody thinks Kelle is the worst model left in the competition. Even the little toy dog that sits on the fat guy's lap thinks so. With the last few shreds of her self-esteem blasted into tiny atoms, Kelle is booted from the contest. So, Kelle... still enjoying the "drama?"

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