It's been four days since the finale airing of CityTV's "Canada's Next Top Model," and after I got over the initial shock, disappointment, anger, hunger, sleepiness, and resignation of the outcome, I've come to the conclusion that although Canada has its many merits, putting on reality shows is not one of them.
Since "CNTM" has ended its first season, there's been a lot of talk about the various travesties that occurred on the show, from choosing a winner with a suspected eating disorder, to booting another for having too much experience when she clearly excelled at both photo shoots and runway.
Frankly, the show became quite nonsensical when the first contestant, Sylvie, was booted. Although Sylvie was deemed to have too much "attitude" and didn't care about personal hygiene, she took one of the best first pictures and worked the low budget lighting, make-up, and wardrobe to her advantage. Likewise, kicking off Heather before Tenika was also quite stupid. While Heather was personally grating and whiny, she was picked by a talent scout as having the most "raw" potential, and Tenika couldn't take a good picture to save her life. Seriously, when you start to resemble Whitney Houston circa her crack addict/Bobby Brown era, then it's obvious that you may not be that photogenic. Many also loved Ylenia, who took pictures that made her look like she was 35 but who was charismatic and stunning in real life. Brandi outlasted her, which says a lot about the judges and their drug habits.
ISSUE #1: Think before you speak.
The penultimate episode had the four finalists, Andrea, Alanna, Brandi, and Sisi, compete in an 80's themed photo shoot (in their own reality TV show house, which again speaks volume about the production values). During this episode, Brandi and Alanna were seen going through Andrea and Sisi's personal belongings while the girls were away at a challenge-sponsored spa. Later, Brandi and Alanna lounged in the hot tub and talked about Sisi. Brandi was shown saying that she didn't think Sisi deserved to win because she wasn't born in Canada. Some people thought Brandi said that Sisi shouldn't win because she's not a Canadian citizen, but as the rules clearly state, any participant on "CNTM" has to have citizenship.
Per verbatim, here's the offending conversation:
IN THE HOT TUB:
Brandi: She's not gonna to win. If she wins, that's going to be a disappointment to Canada. I'm sorry, she's not even born in Canada.
Alanna: I knoooooow!
Brandi: That's embarrassing shit!
IN A CONFESSIONAL:
Brandi: I think Sisi could be a top model but not "Canada's Next Top Model." "Canada's Next Top Model," I think she should be born from -- in Canada.
Of course, this offended many Canadians who felt that Brandi was out of line. It's a marked difference from the other posts Sisi initially received, where some ignorant posters thought she didn't deserve to be in the competition because she is Chinese. Unfortunately, there will always be one or two who will just never learn.
"i can not believe this at all. Brandi's comment was not racist at all, it would be one thing to have chineese heritage and be born and canada, but quite another to be born somewhere else, and enter a competition called "canada's next top model" if you win this i will be disgusted, for that should be a major rule. That one Italian girl was gorgeous with much potential, and i was sad to see her go, but i understand it was probably for the better, since she also was not canadian-born. Sisi, your career would be very short lived."
"I THINK THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE ONLY HOPING YOU WIN BECAUSE THEY ARE THE SAME RACE AS YOU. which is very racist, but there is nothing i can do about it. except say it's wrong...I must say if you win, This show is utterly deranged. ONLY A CANADIAN-BORN CITIZEN SHOULD BE ELLIGBLE TO WIN."
"I honestly hope u DON'T win. I beleive that it should be someone born in canada to win CANADA"S top model."The thing that kills me the most is that these people are so adamant about supporting some sort of twisted North American national identity, and yet they butcher the English language beyond recognition.
I wouldn't take anything Brandi says too seriously. If that's what she believes, then so be it. Luckily, I doubt Brandi will be running for prime minister any time soon, so there's a slim chance that her ignorance will be widespread. Let's not forget that in the same episode, Brandi binged on rum and Cokes, puked on her bed, and just left the mess there.
Yeah...it's kinda hard to take that seriously when the girl's got a mound of puke in her bed. (And by the way, Brandi's mother is of Philippina descent and was not born in Canada.)ISSUE #2: Sisi's elimination.
Sisi probably had the most experience and natural talent of all the remaining girls, but she was eliminated third-to-last. At first the judges loved her, and then they didn't. In true "Top Model" fashion, her experience was a detriment only in the last couple of episodes before her elimination. If you had never watched the show and just tuned in, you'd think that these were issues that Sisi had all along, but no one made a peep until they realized that they needed a reason to boot her off. They also claimed that she had lost her spark, meaning that she wasn't bringing enough drama to keep her around.
This is what judge Jeanne Bekker had to say in her blog:
Sayonara Sisi! Really feel badly (so what else is new?) but I honestly believe that Sisi is “over-qualified” for the gig! Honestly, she’s just got too much experience, and it sort of makes me feel like she’s basically trying to get another kick at the can. Although she looks amazing and young for her age, I wonder if it would really be fair to see her as Canada’s NEXT Top Model. Again, I think she’s got loads of talent, takes BRILLIANT pictures and is generally a very cool, albeit quirky, chick. I’m sure she’ll have a great career, no matter where she ends up.
And judge Stacey Mckenzie:
Sisi is amazing. She photographs well and she can walk a mean runway! I was very surprised when she stood in front of us. I felt she had just basically given up - and I think she should have went all the way with a BANG, no matter the case! What a lot of people don't realize is in this industry it could happen right away for the person or it could take years. Take supermodel Gisele Bundchen, she's been in the business from the age of 14! I did shows with her when I first started out, and no one had a clue who she was! It was not until recently that she got that one person to say “I WANT THAT GIRL” – and that was it, she was a supermodel! Granted, she paid her dues, just like a lot of other girls, like Alex Wek, Stacey Mckenzie! It's all about timing, and Sisi will have her time, her turn, ‘cause she has the game on lock!!
For me, these positive things about Sisi far outweigh the fact that she didn't go out with a BANG or had too much experience (although, how much experience can you have when you're not really a working model?) and didn't deserve a second chance. But then again, maybe that's why no one's hiring me to appear as a reality show judge.
"Canada's Next Top Model" producer Steve Chase speaking to the Toronto Star on the finale:
Taping the cosmetics ad, he added, was not a fair test for Sisi, who took the best photos of the bunch but stumbled over her words on camera. "Not all models talk," he said. Sisi, a Simon Fraser University communications student from Richmond B.C., speaks with an Asian accent.
It's an Asian accent, not a "language barrier" like Tricia Helfer likes to believe. Just because someone has an accent doesn't mean that he or she can't speak the language. In fact, I believe that Sisi was the only contestant who could speak in whole sentences (besides Tenika, who liked to speak in whole sentences only when talking about having to blow-dry her hair at 1:00 AM or how dumb Sisi is). Sisi has since signed with the Liz Bell Agency, and has been getting steady gigs.
ISSUE #3: Andrea as the winner.
The finale pitted the final three contestants in the Cover Girl make-up commercial.
Sisi was eliminated, leaving Andrea and Alanna in the running for "Canada's Next Top Model." From the footage shown in the house, Andrea was depicted as being co-dependent, whiny, two-faced, immature, and emotionally volatile. One minute she was crying to her mother on the phone about being homesick, and the next she was smack talking anyone she could get her hands on. Andrea, as much as I hate to admit, took good pictures and looks great on camera, although her runway walk is the most awkward thing since Michael Jackson fathering children. Alanna, on the other hand, didn't get much screen time at the beginning of the competition, but as the competition dwindled down the finalists, it was clear that she could be just as mean and vicious as her partner-in-crime, Brandi. Also, she took mediocre pictures and looked too girl-next-door for high fashion. Out of the two, Andrea was the most fit for fashion, but I would have personally picked one of the booted contestants over her any day.
Andrea's eating habits also came to light during the show, suggesting that she had an eating disorder that was never addressed. The girl supposedly ate next to nothing in the house and gorged on candy -- so much so that she brought a luggage full of candy boxes to the competition. One of the judges, Paul Benoit, asked her to eat more, but she dismissed him and then became angry backstage. Alanna has admitted that she never saw Andrea eat, and a show insider say that on the final days of the competition, Andrea allegedly only ate a bag of Skittles. Shame on you, "Canada's Next Top Model," for not looking into this matter any further. I know it's a reality show and not "The Nature of Things," but you have to hold some sort of social responsibility for anything that goes on while taping.
Obviously, Andrea was the skinniest contestant in the house. She has a body for couture and runway gained by suspect means, and I'm starting to think that the judges chose her in an act of desperation, sweeping her health and emotional issues aside in lieu of choosing a winner who could also be a feasible working model.
So long, Alanna. Next reality show, don't associate with the Mean Girls of the house.
How much have I grown to love Stacey Mckenzie? Her fake smile at hearing Andrea's name at the final judging is so endearing. If you cover up her mouth, she's like the Mona Lisa here. I hear ya, Stacey.
On the "CNTM" official website, there was a poll posted after the finale aired.
It's a fitting end to a remarkably lackluster show.