'America's Next Top Model' recap: Downton Shabby

tyra-banks-antm-15-320.jpgWell, everyone, it's season -- excuse me, cycle -- 18 of America's Next Top Model. It started so late this year that I thought maybe the whole thing was a nine-year long bad dream. But nay! Top Model is back, this time with kicky accents. Yes, this season Tyra has pitted seven American models versus seven British models, just because she enjoys the smell of bombs bursting in air. The Americans are all total newbies, but the Brits have been on previous seasons of Britain's Next Top Model. Do you think they call them "cycles" over there? I'm sure there's some sort of rhyming slang involved, and they're actually known as "****ie-dykels" or something of that nature.

The competition gets underway with the world's very first "Fierce Parade." It's an actual parade, with exactly two floats. I'm sure people camped out all night to get a good spot on the parade route. Then, the contestants face off in transatlantic pairs, first by reading each other and then by stomping down the runway. Smack talk abounds! Later, the girls head to their house and discover that the Brits will be in one room and Americans in another. A spotlight is shown on our remarkable cultural differences as the Brits want to talk and get to know people on their first night in the house, while the Americans want to skinnydip and get bi-curious. No one has a terrible disease that we've heard about yet, but Scottish Ashley does cop to having two little kids and an utter lack of self-confidence.

The week's photo shoot pairs one US and one UK model per photo, representing iconic figures from their respective countries. I instantly wondered which American girl would get the task of representing Angelea. (NEVER FORGET.) Sixty cameras shoot the girls as they bounce on little trampolines so that a 3-D image is created. The pairings display the nonsensical sensibility you've come to count on from America's Next Top Model. Queen Elizabeth goes against George Washington, who in a tremendous display of historical accuracy is wearing a gold mini-skirt. Janet Jackson is pitted against Spice Girl Mel B., things get au courant with Madonna versus Elton John, Margaret Thatcher takes on Michelle Obama, Andy Warhol goes against Amy Winehouse (WTF, I know), and Jacqueline Kennedy is pitted against Princess Di. And then, of course, we have Pocahontas versus John Lennon. Now you know some stylist was getting desperate and hit the clearance costume rack at Party City. To make matters worse, the only Native American model to ever appear on the show is cast as -- you guessed it -- Pocahontas. Later on the judges are all like, "She's NATIVE AMERICAN, she really could have done more with that." With her Pocahontas costume! Oh my God! At least no one was in blackface this time.