"Make Me A Supermodel": The gayGayGAY One
Bravo's "Make Me A Supermodel" isn't a reinvention of the runway. Like the CW's "America's Next Top Model" and VH1's "America's Most Smartest Model", "Supermodel" relies mostly on a tried-and-true formula: fantastic-looking people + capital A Awkward situation = surefire drama. Witness the pairing of models who hate each other, the photo-shoots involving whips and other sexual festishes, husbands with wives back home, and et cetera.
But each modeling series has developed its own niche, and "Supermodel" seems to have chosen for its comfort zone the LGBT zip code.
I don't pretend to speak for the LGBT community, but in my opinion there's only one thing better than two hot smoking men, and that's two hot smoking men who are into each other. "Supermodel" seems to agree with me, because they've ratcheted up the homoerotic content.
Watching gay Ronnie and straight Ben do their dance around each other reminds me of the worst and best parts of high school and college: the instant attraction, the 'playful' friendship, the sinking knowledge that one can only ultimately 'play', if that, and the freaking out that gets piled on top of everything every part of the way.
Except, of course, this being television, everything gets dialed to eleven: instead of 'friendly' knee pats, we have R & B rolling around on a bed (albeit with the buffer of a woman), and instead of the stock girlfriend, we have a wife back home whose cheeks get redder every week. And that's where the problem lies.
There's manufactured drama, and then there's genuine drama for which reality show makers will sacrifice their children - and I bet the "Supermodel" producers shed tears every week for the blessings that are Ronnie and Ben - but the problem with genuine drama is that it tends to involve genuine trauma.
Pair two models who hate each other, and in the worst-case scenario you might end up with bruised egos and scratched faces. Put Ronnie and Ben together, however, and you end up with developments like married Ben supposedly telling Ronnie he'd experiment with a man if drinks were flowing. Or Ronnie saying he has real feelings for Ben. Both of which can only elicit one response:
Oh... no. No no no no no...
To quote the show's recapper on Television Without Pity: "I want to fly to New York immediately and rescue them both from themselves and each other. Ben, you don't want to be with Ronnie, you just like him a lot and he's hot and you really appreciate the sexual attention. Ronnie, you don't want Ben... Well, maybe you do, but there are so many other gorgeous gay fish in the sea who will not flip on you after six painful months of tearful confusion."
The show is only at episode four, but I'm already cringing at the possible ramifications of future Ben and Ronnie Epic Bromance installments. So much so that I was almost glad for the attempt at manufacturing gay panic drama in the third episode.
In that one, straight boys Perry and Casey were asked to pair up for a sizzling lingerie photo-shoot. A big bed was provided, as were briefs, handcuffs, and other props... including a lollipop.
Then, later, they were asked to give their runway interpretation of "equestrian with a fetish twist".
To both guys' credit, though, they rose above the gay panic drama bait in both instances, and acquitted themselves admirably. There was tonguing, tying, whipping, nibbling of ear lobes, pulling of waistbands, and all sorts of other collar-heating activity, but nary a bit of awkwardness or face-making (except the good kind. You'll see in the video).
Seriously, y'all. It's almost NSFW; that's how good those two were.
So, between this and the R & B Express Train(Wreck), I think I can safely say this: Miss Tyra, you better watch your back. There's another LGBT eye-catcher in town.
And to Ronnie and Ben: seriously. I love watching you guys, but please set some boundaries. Now.
"Make Me A Supermodel" airs on Bravo, Thursdays at 10 pm / 9 pm central, with repeats every day.
Image courtesy NBC