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This season of America's Next Top Model -- I've lost track of the numbers, let's just call it "back to NYC" -- has been good and lively. Let's face it: Pretty girls posing is one thing, but pretty girls pushing, backstabbing and calling each other "fat" is a lot more entertaining.

And as luck would have it, some of the duller, nicer girls have been sent home and here we are mid-season with a loft full of long-limbed, high-strung meanies. (It probably doesn't help tempers that Mistress Tyra banned smoking this season.) Tennis-ball-on-stick Claire vs. transvestite and crazy self-aggrandizer Dominique vs. Southern belle-of-the-frat-house Whitney vs. Williamsburg punk "rebel" Lauren vs. Fatima, who is the outright queen of "unintended" insults. I swear, someone's gonna get her weave ripped soon!

On the down side, none of the gals seems worth rooting for. Underneath it all, it's tough to care for women whose lifelong goal is to perfect the hunched shoulders necessary to sell a couple high-priced ball gowns. (And how about Kim, who the judges sent home because she dared to say fashion was stupid and a waste of money?) That's why I like my aspiring models mean and shallow.

Over on Bravo, Make Me a Supermodel is about to wrap up. I stuck it out, but this show never caught fire dramatically. (In the beautiful-people-naked realm, however, MMSM gave Janice Dickinson's soft-porn model show a run for its money.) The Ben-Ronnie flirt-fest (now officially branded as "Bronnie" -- making a T-shirt is a sure way to kill the buzz) dampened; the boys-vs.-girls battle held all the allure of your own petty childhood; and wannabe model-actor Perry couldn't make dramatic gravy with a trumped-up "crisis," that pathetically tried to glom onto the Britney trainwreck.

Watching the MMSM reunion show last week, I had trouble even remembering who the cast-off models were. No matter -- they've surely all gone back to waiting tables. The only take-way moments from that "revealing" episode involved the judges: Niki Taylor seemed peeved at Tyson for sucking up all the light and becoming the models' "best friend for life" (riiiigggghhht). 

Then, Cory Bautista, the pudgy dude from the casting agency, inexplicably panicked when his colleague called him a "bear." Oh-kay. It's not as if this show could try any harder to lure in gay men (the judges' pretend bafflement at why mostly the hot guys survived to the finals notwithstanding …), so there's no shame in going big-and-burly here.

My prediction for winner: prison guard Ben. I remain unconvinced that he's a good working model, much less a "supermodel," but I think he's got that lucky combo of aw-shucks goofy, hard-edge butch and try-me-just-might that makes him irresistible to at-home judges. Plus, his weird backstory and a chest you can bounce quarters off doesn't hurt.

Need more model? Bravo goes wall-to-wall Friday with Make Me a Supermodel UK. Can there be too many shows showcasing vapid, bitchy wannabe models? I say no -- what say you?

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