Dear Tyra Banks: We need to break up

My cable box broke 15 minutes prior to the season premiere of America's Next Top Model, an incident that left me bereft for an entire seven days, especially when I found out that Tyra and the gang had given the girls a makeover (my FAVORITE) in week one and that said makeover involved tears and lots of weird eyebrows.
I felt robbed.

So my ANTM excitement and anticipation was at an all time high last Wednesday when I sat down to finally watch the second episode. And then, things went horribly wrong.

What the HELL is going on with this show?

As reality TV goes, the Top Model format somehow still works. The casting agents still manage to get compelling (if not downright weird/insane) contestants, and, even if it never produces an actually successful or "top" model, it's still entertaining to watch the girls evolve or devolve over the course of each "cycle" and to witness the creativity that goes into each of the shoots. Top Model could be--and often is--great TV.

However, there's currently a massive, oozing problem with this program and that problem is called Tyra Banks. While once mildly obnoxious and even amusing, Banks has recently turned monstrous, maniacal, and unwatchable. From the contestants' LA house filled entirely with her pictures to the inexcusably dumb skits meant to showcase her "acting" skills, the creepy/idiotic "Chamber of Fierceness," and the desperate coining of the term "Smize" ("Smile with your eyes" UGH); Wednesday's episode revealed a Tyra Banks so absurd, so pathologically egocentric, it was hard to believe it wasn't all a big joke, some satirical SNL bit about former models turned demons.

But, America's Next Top Model is no laughing matter. Banks takes it all deadly seriously. She supposedly wants these girls to be GREAT models, exactly like she was. And she'll go to great lengths to achieve this goal, manhandling the girls' jaws and eyelids while attempting to puppet their young, slack faces into a Smize, all the while speaking in a faux European upper crust accent, that's perhaps meant to reflect the classy world of modeling. The effect is humiliating and awful, especially this season when Banks chose "models" under 5'7, refused to let them wear heels, and so towers overs them like some weave-wearing wicked Disney queen. ("Just eat this poison apple, my pretties, you'll get to appear in a crappy Seventeen magazine spread and never be heard from again.")

If you don't believe me that Tyra Banks has finally, completely given over to the dark side, take a look at this Nightline interview from a few weeks ago. It actually gives me the chills. Watch when Tyra is asked about former ANTM judges Paulina Poriskova and Janice Dickinson and she just stares and freakishly nods. Check out her juvenile, bratty-schoolgirl response, "I didn't say it, you said it. I didn't say it, you said it." YIKES. There were a million ways to answer that question gracefully. The non-answer she chose is self-involved, rude, and downright bitchy.

Next, as further evidence that Tyra Banks thinks she is the most important person in the world, while explaining why she doesn't talk about her love life in public, she says that it doesn't give anything back. However: "Telling people 'I have cramps,' that's giving something back."

You have to be kidding me.