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'America's Next Top Model': We have a winner! Again.

November 19, 2008 | 10:28 pm

Mckey So the best model, or one of them anyway, won "America's Next Top Model." I said in my last post that the dearly departed Marjorie Conrad reminded me of Elise Sewell from Cycle 1. McKey Sullivan, this season's winner, reminds me of Johanna House from Cycle 2. She might not be as bubbly and chipper as the runner-up, Samantha Potter (or Cycle 2's Mercedes Scelba-Shorte), but give me a break.  How could you let someone with that face and who can carry off a severe shork dark haircut like that not win it all? 

But really, whoop de doo, right? That's all the excitement I can muster for a show as overplayed as "ANTM."  Let's compare it to one of the other great American stalwarts in entertainment-based reality television, "American Idol," which itself has of late received criticism that it's overexposed and irrelevant. "ANTM" premiered in 2003, a year after "Idol," and so far has crammed in 11 "cycles," whereas "Idol" has given us a mere seven (with the eighth starting in 2009). At two seasons (or cycles) a year versus "Idol's" or "Project Runway's" one or one and a half, it's just becoming too much.  Does anybody really care about this show anymore? ("Care" being a perjorative term in this case, meaning not just good enough to watch while eating a microwave dinner in the dark but intrigued enough to want to go home and to see what happened). 

The show isn't doing anything wrong per se. In fact, this season was stronger than many: The girls were attractive and personable and, well, that was about it, since the show continues to follow exactly the same format as seasons past. Isis King, the transgendered contestant, made for a bold casting choice, but had she been a less appealing personality that could have blown up and smacked of desperation as well. Attempts to switch the show up otherwise can be a little confusing. McKey went right from winning the cycle to going to a photo shoot. Why? What did the pictures look like? We don't know, because the producers didn't show us, and we don't know where to find the pictures, because they didn't tell us.

To be honest, this show could continue to run and Tyra's wigs and costumes could continue to become more ridiculous and the production quality could decline for decades and I'd still tune in, because, well, it's there. It's always fun to look at pretty pictures of pretty girls and of pretty girls being occasionally humiliated. But it's hard pretending that this show counts for much these days in terms of entertainment value. There's not much to discuss, alas, which makes me nervous, as it's my job to find things to discuss. But a show can still be a good old-fashioned guilty pleasure without people exclaiming, "Is that still on?" Honestly, I'm not sure how the show can improve with so many shows similar to it on the air (and with Tyra Banks clearly more focused on ventures other than "Top Model.") But pretending that being "America's Next Top Model" is a big deal when there's more of them per year than Miss Universe would be a start.

-- Claire Zulkey

(photo: the CW)