Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Broke Up With Tyra

She was like a best frenemy. You know, that self-obsessed nutjob pal you keep around because every once in a while they can be tons of fun? I may not know Tyra Banks personally, but I can tell that she's an insufferable egomaniac. Yet, I have to admit that "America's Next Top Model" is one of the most entertaining televisions shows I've ever watched. So what made me stop watching?

It wasn't a conscious decision, at first, I just didn't notice the start of the most recent cycle*. My dear Detroit Tigers had given me valid hopes of post-season glory and on most Wednesday nights, I was thinking about them instead. Besides, my crappy digital antenna just couldn't catch a signal, so I didn't even try to watch ANTM on the telly. "I'll watch the rerun online," I thought.

About three weeks after the premier episode, I tried to catch up on the CW website but my internet connection failed. After a fleeting moment's frustration I had to ask myself if I really wanted to watch. And that's when I made a conscious decision to break up with Tyra.

Let's go back to that self-obsessed nutjob pal that I mentioned earlier. You've probably had one of those friends (unless you are that person, in which case, I'll try to help you understand why your buddies eventually ditch you). You hang out with that friend because sometimes they're fun, and maybe that ever-twisting swirl of drama in which they live is kinda entertaining. But eventually, you feel as if that person is sucking the blood from your veins so you do one of two things - a) bitch about them constantly to others, or b) just stop hanging out with them altogether.

I now realize that my favorite thing about watching ANTM was chatting with my fellow viewer friends about all the obnoxious, arrogant, self-important nonsense that Tyra said or did on her show. But then she went one misdeed too far, and I just don't want to hang out with her anymore.

It's this whole "short model" gimmick she's trying. Every Top Model cycle involves some contestant who would seem to have no chance of winning, because of some supposed "handicap" that would seem to prevent them from professional success. First, it was the plus-sized contestant (they have usually had at least one plus-sized girl every cycle since). Then there was the legally blind girl, the girl with Asperger syndrome (Heather, my all-time fave!), the tranny, the burn victim. Few of them got to the last round. Only one big girl ever won. Still, Tyra could congratulate herself for pushing the boundaries of our culture's definition of beauty.

Yes, Tyra posits herself as a progressive matron to all her young lady disciples. Remember that "kiss my fat ass!" bit from her talk show, after everyone saw the tabloid photos that made her look chunky? She got a lot of cred for that, as if she had done some good for the world.

But the thing with Tyra is that she only cares about that crusade as long as she gets to lead it. Being progressive isn't as important as being the matron. She condescends to her contestants like she's a sensei, or the Queen of England, or Yoda. Her self-important posturing is typical of reality show panels, and it's hilarious. But it's also sociopathic.

This cycle, Tyra has only included girls who are 5'7" or shorter. Again, she claims that she's trying to stretch industry limits, but you know what? I think she just wants to be four inches taller than every girl in the room. And if she really needs that ego boost, she might be imploding. Perhaps her dreams of Oprah-scale fame and wealth aren't materializing as she's hoped. In any case, I can only hope that her downfall will be well-documented by "The Soup", 'cause I'm done with boosting that nutjob's ratings.

*other shows have "seasons"; Top Model has "cycles"

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