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TV Review: The CW's 'America's Next Top Model'

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'America's Next Top Model'
Three stars
7 p.m., WGN-Channel 9

I'm sure there are quite a few people who still look to Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Dr. Pinsky for their daily helping of self-help. But to be honest, I don't know any. The straight-talking doctors have been usurped by style sultans Tim Gunn, Isaac Mizrahi, and the Jays of "America's Next Top Model." These men are part guru, part god. There is no higher achievement than pleasing them.

Tyra Banks, of course, rules imperiously over them all. And for the 13th cycle of her reality juggernaut, she has magnanimously reached out to the underprivileged: beauties who have fallen short of the ideal at 5-foot-7 and under.

That's not the only handicap these girls have, either. In just the first night, we learn that a successful model will have to overcome these disabilities:

*Having muscles.

*Having breasts.

*Having eyebrows.

*Having a "pageant walk."

*Being too pretty.

Tyra wants these young ladies to be the best that they can be. And if that means probing for tragedy in their pasts, breaking them down, shaving their heads, making them cry and then sending them away -- well, Tyra has a distinctive brand of tough love.

The cast will no doubt bring the drama. There's the Kentuckian who castrates bulls when she's not on the catwalk. The redhead who seems to be an undiagnosed case of Asperger's. The bubbly prophet ("Jesus said he wanted you to be a model?" Mr. Jay tries to clarify). And the girl who has to accessorize her bikini with crutches (cheerleading injury).

It's hard to justify watching a 13th cycle of this, and it would be wrong to come out and recommend it. Instead, I'll go with the latest catchphrase from the Jays, who are masters of damning with faint praise: "I'm not mad at it."

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This page contains a single entry by Paige Wiser published on September 9, 2009 4:11 AM.

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