If you haven’t been up on your reality show gossip, you might have missed some big news — Fox is bringing back The Swan! In case you’ve forgotten, in the early 2000s there was a brief trend on reality t.v. where unfortunate-looking people got their faces did. Surgically, I mean. Those shows were the Swan and Extreme Makeover (the real Extreme Makeover, before it was about bringing joy to selfless people and making you cry).
The thing was, this format seems like it was part of a moment in time. Think back to 2004 or so. We followed every step of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Lindsay Lohan was a hot damn mess, but still a kind of adorable, age-appropriate mess. Britney Spears was a party girl with nary a Jayden James nor Sean Preston in sight. This photo really captures the zeitgeist of the time:
It was a really, really awesome time for boring or unimaginative girls. You could be cut- and-paste hot so, so easily. Heavy fake tan? Check. Get crazy skinny? Check. Nasty ratty weave that looks like you scalped a blonde Barbie Styling Head? Yep, that too. Fake boobs, denim mini skirt, plain tank top? Check, check, check. If it was daytime, you could wear a terrible velour sweatsuit. If you wanted the word “juicy” printed across your ass, then the word “juicy” was printed across your ass. You had to buy a pricey bag to carry your dog around in, then if you were out of money for a dog, you could just get a rat or mole from nature and say it was a chihuahua mix. Then you just topped it off with a really boring or bored attitude – see, eg, the Paris Hilton “that’s hot” vocal fry/drawl.
It was probably not the best era for those of us who were more goofy and pale, but it was good business for makeover shows. Cut-and-paste hot really lent itself to The Swan’s format. Once you cleared off any iffy facial features (hook nose, giant gums, hairy warts, what have you), you just had to add the right elements and, at the end of the hour, you had turned an ugly duckling into a sort of skanky-looking swan.
The thing is, this isn’t really the look these days. There’s a whole different thing happening in 2013. I don’t even know what to call it. Quirky-hot? Anyway. With that in mind, I think these are the elements that the new Swan should incorporate:
1) Surgical Facial Quirking
If the subject has a boring face, then the staff plastic surgeons need to make it interesting. But like, the right kind of interesting. We’re not going to go all the way to ugly, more like adorable … in a way where it’s still believable when the subject says that the cool girls used to pick on her in junior high.
Some options: The Bambi (eyelash lengthening and eye-widening surgery). Permanent light freckling (not like freckle-freckles. About ten adorable ones, across the bridge of the nose). Colored contacts to add flecks of gold so that the subject’s eyes are so pretty that she can claim to be self-conscious about it. Infinitesimal tooth gapping. Nose upturning.
2) Ukulele lessons
Accompanied with “how to sing like you’re from the ‘30s” voice lessons. The end project is a YouTube channel.
The subject learns to shop from small online outlets, so that when people ask where she got something, she can say “oh, I don’t know, I think it’s vintage?”
Whomever the subject is, if she wants to be the ideal 2013 lady she can probably benefit from more recipes from Pinterest . I suggest cooking classes and recipes that involve quinoa, kale, or cake pops.
5) Manic Pixie Dream Quiz Show
The subject has to provide the correct answers to the following questions: What is your favorite music? (Answer: Anything on vinyl). Do you like kittens? (Answer: No. I LOVE kittens.) What was the best decade? (Answer: Any anything from the 1920s through the 1990s is acceptable, but probably not the ’70s or ’80s, which were objectively speaking the least adorable decades of the 20th century).
I don’t know, probably a blog.
Honestly, I feel bad for all of the boring or unimaginative ladies in our modern times. In 2004 all you had to do was look sort of tan and uninterested. These days, there are so many Etsy shops to monitor and so much individualistic nail art to create and so damn many hair braid configurations. It’s got to be exhausting.
But despite all that, rebooting the Swan for 2013 has to be one of the best ideas Fox has had, because watching all of this transpire is going to make for some great t.v.Editor’s note: If you’re reading this, and this sounds like you and your friends, it’s all in good fun. This sounds an awful lot like me, too – I can’t help it if music sounds better on vinyl and I want to go online shopping with Daisy Buchanan. I also have a cat named Mabel who used to be an adorable kitten. I win at Swan: 2013!