Suddenly, there's a convergence of at least four fashion-model reality shows on TV. Seriously, there may be more and I'm just missing them.
The standard bearer, America's Next Top Model, is back -- but with a pair of clips show (booo!). New episodes, on The CW, start Wed., Feb. 20, when according to the heavily air-brushed ad I saw, Miss Tyra takes the next batch of skinny teen-age divas to New York City.
Diva-dom is what's missing from Bravo's Make Me a Supermodel. I dig that viewers vote American Idol-style for who stays or goes, though so far "America voting on the Alltel network" has seemed pretty clueless, keeping the wooden Jay around for a couple weeks.
But doing the show live enough to allow for weekly voting likely means the producers don't have enough time and foresight to craft a show with a decent narrative -- and by that I shamelessly mean: stock characters to love and hate; "feuds"; health crises and various melodramas; and "shocking" events we sorta saw coming. It's no secret now that reality shows get a season-arc storyline, and that helps make them entertaining.
The gals on Make Me a Supermodel are utterly forgettable. They even robbed the one girl, Holly, with the super-cute retro bob, of her distinctive hairdo. On the upside, the guys -- all freshly manscaped -- rarely wear shirts, and the naughty-naughty flirty friendship between married prison-guard Ben and gay boy-next-door Ronnie holds some dramatic promise. But, the show's biggest crime is dullness -- from the boring hosts and judges -- right through last episode's Big Crisis: Model-on-the-bubble Kate was apparently eating bread.
Too MUCH drama is why I love The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, and this third season has been awesome. (Catch endless repeats on Oxygen.) I love how the show blatantly fakes a bunch of Janice-drama, even as you know the real Janice is likely a 25-hour-a-day crazy control-freak handful.
Plus, I've never seen somebody look so good and so bad at the same time. The close-ups don't do the heavily worked-on Miz Dickinson any favors. She's this close to sliding into one of those plastic-surgery-gone-wrong shows. And yet ... from a respectable distance, striding across a room, in a bathing suit ... we should all be so lucky. The editing on this show is so sloppy, that over the reputed course of "one day" Janice's face will display several stages of since-I-was-Botoxed-and-siliconed-up, so that her lip shape fluctuates wildly, her eyes shrink and widen, and so on.
Season three -- which wrapped up last night with more invented drama -- Janice fires her business partner Peter, big whoop -- has had some real demented highlights:
* The Models for Jesus gripe session, followed by the most twisted photo shoot yet, those gay-rough-trade, ass-less jeans, featuring -- yes -- one of the prim Models for Jesus dudes stripped down to what God gave him, oiled up and nuzzling another guy's crotch. Clearly, the producers have determined that The JDMA scores high with gay male viewers -- or does the agency only get gay-oriented underwear contracts, which ... ahem ... require lots of hunky male models to disrobe and prance about in micro-thongs, adjusting their "rabbits" (a Janice term).
* Janice's new "bodyguard," Sorin. The Romanian beefcake didn't work out as a model, so Janice made him her bodyguard ... and forced him to follow her around in a man-kini: essentially, tiny hot pants and a crop-top that reads "security." As an around-town accessory, this tops any toy dog.
* The "Latin" division. This seemed like a great business idea -- having a pool of Latino models to tap the rising demographic, add diversity and all that. Then, inexplicably, in Los Angeles, Janice couldn't find any Latinos and filled up the "Latin" (her usual term) division with Russians, Asian-Americans and assorted not-Latinos.
* The Versace memorial. While in Miami, Janice drags her models and a huge paparazzi crew to pine-and-pose outside the gates of Gianni Versace's home, on the 10th anniversary of his murder there. You do the math: Some 18-year-old model would have been 8 when this happened, and likely could care less. Not so Janice, who kneels dramatically by the gates and avers: "Without Gianni, I would not have had children." The cameras whirr and click, and Janice -- ever the perfect model -- expresses "pain" without cracking her makeup with a tear.
Up next for our indefatigable "world's first supermodel," Janice takes charge of the burgeoning career of Abbey, runner-up of the U.K. version of Next Top Model. Abbey and Janice starts this week, also on Oxygen.