If you've ever had the misfortune of being stuck on a public bus at about 3.45pm on a weekday, you'll have some idea of what watching the latest series of Australia's Next Top Model is like. It's basically an hour a week of teenage girls squealing, crying, hugging each other and shrieking “OH MOY GOURD” over and over again.
And unlike public transport, it's totally addictive.
Series six kicked off on Tuesday night and for the sixth year running, I found myself hooked. Yes, SIX YEARS. Basically, I've been in a relationship with ANTM longer than any bloke I've ever known. Believe me, I am aware how disturbing that is.
I wish I knew how to quit you.
I'm not sure what it is about this televised model search that makes it so enjoyable. I suspect schadenfreude has a lot to do with it – watching someone very thin and very beautiful fall over in six inch heels on a catwalk can be incredibly satisfying. Watching them take a terrible photograph in which they look like a slightly overweight drag queen is even more satisfying (and you'd be surprised how often that happens on this show).
This season's premise is the same as all the others – take a bunch of skinny white girls with names like Amba, Taylah and Bree, put them through a bunch of photographic and catwalk challenges, pick the one who can walk in a straight line without falling over, punching anyone or swearing, make her runner up and then give the crown to the biggest moll, before packing her off to star in a few chocolate commercials and gradually fading into obscurity.
This is the part where detractors of the show chime in saying things like “Australia's next TOP model! Pah! Name one of the winners! What have they ever done? What a stupid show.”
It's a fair point. Apart from junkies like me, no one CAN name any past winners of ANTM – it's not like they actually went on to become Elle McPhersons or Kristy Hinzes, as the title of the show would suggest. More than likely they went on to become page 23 girls of your local Centro catalogue. (Hey, it's a living, right?)
Only one past ANTM winner has gone on to have any major success – frail, pale redhead Alice Burdeu, who blitzed the competition a few years ago and landed herself on the cover of Vogue, has since gone on to big things here and overseas.
But this somehow doesn't detract at all from the show. Who cares what happens to these girls AFTER the credits close? I couldn't give a toss if they start a modelling career or not, I just want to watch them every week being forced to strut around in stilts masquerading as shoes, or being made to hang in a harness off the side of a building to advertise lipstick, or bursting into tears because they've been told their neck isn't long enough. What they do in their own time is their own business.
Sadly my early favourite, SA's own Valeria (admittedly only my favourite because her name reminded me of some sort of exotic disease) has already been booted off the show. But that still leaves us with Jessica, the unemployed country girl who lists her hobbies as “loitering around, wasting time and considering the meaning of life”; Kimberley the Gold Coast girl who gave up life as a meter maid to work at Hooters; Alison, who was criticised for having a body that “doesn't follow her feet” (must make getting around very difficult), Ashton, Kelsey and Brittney, who'd never heard of Grace Kelly but thought he might be a man.
You know you're in 2010 when names like Valeria, Ashton and Kelsey are considered commonplace for girls, and Grace is considered a bloke's name.
Game on, molls!
This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's TV Guide on July 25, 2010.