Here they don't ask if you wanna be on top. But they don't ask if you wanna be down under, either.

Here they don't ask if you wanna be on top. But they don't ask if you wanna be down under, either.

Ok so I know it’s been a long time since my last entry and I actually have like a million updates and three posts that I’m working on, but being the spaz that I am this was the one I was most inspired to publish first. Apartment/life updates coming soon…

So it should be pretty clear that I’m a TV junkie, but among my tip-top favorites, and certainly my most guilty pleasure, is America’s Next Top Model (ANTM to those in the know). I got sucked in during cycle 3 because the makeover episode happened to come on after Jeopardy! and I was doing something and forgot to change the channel. Who doesn’t love makeover shows, right? But what’s especially great about ANTM’s makeover episodes is that half the time Tyra makes the models look way worse. She’ll give someone an ugly red weave, or chop off hair that shouldn’t be chopped off, or give a girl with a great afro blonde hair extensions.

The show is such a trainwreck, I adore it. And of course the comedy of their photo shoots is off the charts. Among my all-time favorite preposterous photo shoot scenarios: “Your political issue is bureaucracy,” “You’re a botox procedure gone awry,” and “You’re an innocent school girl being lured into teen pregnancy.” Seriously, WTF?!?!

So anyway, I was vaguely aware of the fact that there are like 127 international versions of the show now, though I doubt any come close to the campiness and inanity of Tyra original recipe.  But Australia does have a version, and since a lot of models seem to come from here, I figure it must be legit. Well, the fifth season just premiered last week, and it’s been super-hyped. (Quick aside: it airs at fucking 7:30 pm, as do most of the most popular TV shows here. WTF?! I ranted about this to the husband, who responded, “Well everyone in this country goes home from work at 5 p.m., so what do you expect?” Argh) Anyway, apparently the show broke the ratings record for most watched TV premiere in Australian cable history. Wow, my opinion of Australia just went down a notch. But on the bright side, it was re-broadcast last night and I was able to catch it. Here are my quick impressions:

The first four seasons were hosted by some chick named Erika Heynatz, who as far as I can tell from her wikipedia entry didn’t do a whole lot before hosting the show. I would’ve thought they’d get Elle MacPherson or something (doesn’t Heidi Klum host Germany’s version?), but I guess no dice. Even more ass-backwards, though, is that the new host is Sarah Murdoch, who seems to have risen to prominence mainly by being Rupert Murdoch’s daughter-in-law (he’s Australian, remember, and there are like nine Fox channels here, one of which happens to air ANTM). She seemed nice enough, but she is clearly no Tyra. There was not a single mention of fierceness, nor did she ever demonstrate to the models how to smile with their eyes. Wack.

The Ms. Jay equivalent, that is, the host’s queenie sidekick, is some fashion designer named Alex Perry, who is billed as “Australia’s most glamorous designer.” So why is he wearing sunglasses on his bald head in EVERY single picture that I’ve seen of him? How is that glamorous? Anyway, he did make a lot of bitchy comments under his breath when the models were presented for the first time, so he gets points for that. And he has a Vogue profile page so I guess he’s legit, although can you imagine someone like Tom Ford or Marc Jacobs being a judge on ANTM? Ich don’t think so.

Nobody compares to Ms. Jay.

Nobody compares to Ms. Jay.

The Paulina equivalent is some woman named Charlotte Dawson, who according to her bio on the website was once a top model herself and is now a big important model agent, or something. She was definitely bitchier than Paulina or Twiggy, so points for that, but also not nearly as lovely.

Clearly no one could ever rival the noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker, so there isn’t a Nigel equivalent, but I guess a frequent guy that they use who was a judge past seasons is Georges Antoni. He was a guest judge on the premiere and I was kind of unimpressed. I think it’s because he was wearing one of those super-deep V t-shirts that shows off waaay more chest hair than I care to see (those are weirdly popular here), plus he never took his sunglasses off while doing the photo shoot. Seriously dude?

Love ya, Nige

Love ya, Nige

The style director/Mr. Jay equivalent is named Jonathan Pease. I liked him; he was less orange/alien-like and did not mess around, barking at the models during their first runway walk but also being straight up and complimenting the ones who did a good job. As a bonus, he at times bears a striking resemblance to one of my favorite SNL/HIMYM actors, Will Forte. See here for yourself.

As for the actual models, they seem equally dumb and entertaining as their American counterparts, so that’s good. Less diverse, but that’s not surprising. One of my favorite old TV recap sites, Television Without Pity, used to call the models “hamsters,” because they’re so dumb and get run through the most ridiculous tasks by Tyra, and I think that’s apt.

Anyway, one pro of being in Australia is that they don’t censor nearly as much, so swearing and nudity are actually pretty common (i.e. on the 6 pm news last night they were showing the nude photos of a young Madonna that just got auctioned for $50,000 or whatever). Anyway, in an early interview one of the models used the phrase, “I was shitting myself because I was so nervous,” and the husband and I both looked at each other like, “Whoa, what?!” Then later on another model tripped on the catwalk and yelled “Fuck!” really loudly, which was hilarious both because it was on TV, but also because models definitely aren’t supposed to ever say anything on the runway.

Also, the contestants here are as young as 16 (which seems more realistic for actual aspiring models, really), and a few of them are high school dropouts. A number of them have also been labeled as “bogans,” which is sort of like white trash, but maybe somehow less offensive and tied to being working class, I guess? It’s a term that you hear constantly here, and the judges certainly kept telling the contestants to abandon their bogan roots. I can’t really imagine Tyra telling a contestant to act less white trash; yes, she tells some of them to be less ghetto, but that seems somehow different. I dunno.

So yeah, those are my initial impressions of this show. I was also entertained because the first episode was actually all the contestants being forced to do a runway show  in front of a bunch of Australian designers and fashion journalists. It was this huge red carpet event, and held at a bar that’s like one block away from where we’re staying. Apparently it’s like the most fabulous place in Sydney, and I’m kind of heartbroken that I wasn’t here for the ANTM premiere. But anyway, it’s kind of pathetic that I was able to dash off 1,200 words on the subject of America’s/Australia’s Next Top Model, so I should probably cut myself off. More on issues of actual importance soon!