Those photo shoots! The incessant drama!

I might as well just come out and say it—I am obsessed with America’s Next Top Model.

How did this happen? I’m a smart girl. I can see right through Tyra Banks’ fake smile and seemingly perfect ways. I understand the use of that awful electro-beat soundtrack to keep us glued to the screen. And those models—who doesn’t think they’re completely vapid and, for the most part, emaciated?

But those photo shoots! The incessant drama! And that delightful J. Alexander!

My obsession started with a simple mention of the show. Outwardly, I exhibited disgust for a show that praised such narrow views of beauty.

Inwardly, however, I became fascinated, secretly streaming episodes on youtube.com almost every night.

You can find entire episodes online, and I wasted a lot of time watching as many as I could find. Maybe it was the quick-cutting, or perhaps it was the bass-heavy soundtrack, but I was hooked and helpless to pry myself away, even though it went against everything I stood for.

These girls were trained to fit the fashion industry’s pedigree, which is completely unrealistic, and somewhat degrading for women. The idea that a model has to exude perfect looks, perfect etiquette, and be ready for any sort of mishap is absurd. I was a closet ANTM fan, but I couldn’t understand why.

An assessment of the show would reveal that there’s nothing phenomenal about it.

ANTM’s basic premise has been used hundreds of times before on other so-called reality shows. With such amounts of mindless television, it seems that U.S. television networks are starved for ideas, and will transform just about any crazy notion into a new concept for the next reality show.

In the wake of The Apprentice, and The Surreal Life should the existence of ANTM come as a surprise? For goodness sake, Regis Philbin is hosting a talent show with David Hasselhoff as a judge. Reality TV is practically a parody of itself.

The drama on ANTM shouldn’t come as a surprise, either.

Take a handful of self-obsessed people, tell them that they (somehow) have to improve and the result is bound to be entertaining.

It’s so entertaining, in fact, that Canada has recently joined the bandwagon with its own version, aptly titled Canada’s Next Top Model.

It’s basically the same show, but with a different model playing host (Tricia Helfer), and instead of a loft in New York City, the girls reside in a fancy waterside cottage in British Columbia. In both versions, contestants have so much passion for their appearance and for winning that they often come off as bombastic.

They’re so concentrated on getting that modeling contract that “only one” can win (as Tyra Banks has repeated on every broadcast) that they’ve lost sight of the fact that they’re just entertainment fodder for the rest of us.

It’s great TV to be sure, but it’s a guilty pleasure. Although it’s sad to see these women erode our ideas of beauty as they parade around the catwalk, I don’t think we’re meant to take it seriously.

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