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TV Series Review

UPN's America's Next Top Model and Bravo's Project Runway already showcase the modeling industry's cutthroat nature. So when the producers of MTV's wildly successful Laguna Beach announced last fall that they were working on a reality series about 10 models trying to make it big in Miami, there was a sense of "been there, done that." What could Liz Gateley and Tony DiSanto, the creators/executive producers behind 8th & Ocean, possibly add to the mix? Judging by what has aired so far, not much.

One apartment houses six young women. The other serves as the bachelor pad for four guys. Once the roomies settle in, the docudrama contains endless scenes of mumbling good-lookers hanging around on the beach, making out in hot tubs, reading magazines and ordering pizza.

8th & Ocean attempts to let the actors ... um, subjects ... tell the story. For the most part, each week highlights a different person (or set of twins, as in the case of all-American blondes Kelly and Sabrina) and gives viewers an up-close look at the daily struggles of young models working for a chic agency. You know, struggles such as what to do when you're dealing with a bad case of acne, coping with split ends or pondering breast enlargement. Or how a booking agent could have the nerve to make you check in before 9:30 each morning regarding your schedule. Or, on a deeper level, how to justify taking part in an immodest photo shoot if you're a Christian.

The latter dilemma has been the series' lone intriguing moment. Britt, a wide-eyed preacher's daughter from Kansas, is a believer who attends a "Models for Christ" chapter (cut to a tone-deaf group sitting in a circle singing "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord"). She's also a virgin unapologetically naive when it comes to anything related to sex. So when agency owner and mother hen Irene Marie assigns a particular shoot to spice up the rookie's portfolio, it's a clash of morals.

What does Britt do? Obviously, this is MTV ... where skin wins. Although uncomfortable throughout the process, Britt caves to her boss' demands, treating this as a rite of passage into professional modeling. With that, the moment quickly fades into yet another music montage featuring bikini-clad girls—a predictable coda to a pointless show that does little more than celebrate superficial beauty.

Episodes Reviewed: March 7, 14, 21, 28, 2006

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