Since the writers strike shows no sign of being resolved in the near future, count on settling in for a long, cold winter of new reality programming, which kicks off tonight with the Tyson Beckford/Niki Taylor hosted Make Me A Supermodel. From the New York Times' description, the show sounds like a hybrid of America's Next Top Model and Project Runway with American Idol's populism thrown in for good measure; unlike reality dictators Tyra and Heidi, Tyson and Niki let the viewers decide who stays and who goes. (The casting special premieres on Bravo tonight at 11 pm EST, and the Times promises that it will provide the "usual reality television dose of schadenfreude" if nothing else. Because who doesn't like seeing thinner, more attractive people humiliate themselves?)
While MMaS doesn't really break any new reality TV ground, as the Times says, "A spirited contest is nonetheless possible, even if what's true of the contestants is true of the series itself: It's a little amateurish, wobbly and unaware of its potential." The few reviews out are tepid to positive — Salon calls the models "irritating" but adds, "We're going to be sitting on our fat, ugly asses in front of the TV set with a big bowl of ice cream and watching this show" — but the more interesting stories about MMaS have come from small town papers interviewing the local denizens who made the show.
Without seeing any previews, my fave contestant is already the unfortunately-named Ashlie Olson, 20, from Lexington, Kentucky (her sister Marie-Cate didn't make the cut). In an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, Olson discusses her childhood awkward phase in the most adorable way possible. "Oh, yeah, I was like a nerd bomber in elementary school. I had big glasses, and I was on the academic team at Clays Mill. Every year the academic team would go and do these competitions, and you would pick your best subject and you'd take a test on it, and I wound up doing the best of the whole entire convention and they had a picture of me up on the wall for, like, forever. I was such a dork." Nerd bomber!!! Swoon. Ashlie is a lot more endearing than some of the other contestants interviewed so far, in particularly Jathniel Lubin, who tells the Miami Herald, " I will get into acting and try new things and be the best that I can. I don't want to be looked at just as a supermodel, but as a role model." Oh barf.
Viewers of All Sizes Decide Who Walks the Catwalk [New York Times]
TV Daily [Salon]
Model Has Designs On A Super Career [Lexington Herald Leader]
Florida Looks Good On Supermodel Show [Miami Herald]
Make Me A Supermodel [Bravo TV]