6) America’s Next Top Model

Ms Tyra is…Oh, ANTM. I remember when you premiered. It was right after the finale of Buffy, and I was bitter, thinking you were the future of television—another crappy reality competition we didn’t need. Seven seasons, or “cycles” (part of Tyra Banks’ need to create not just a media empire but also a new super girly and sort of awkward language) later, America’s Next Top Model is still one the most consistently entertaining, interesting and satisfying shows on television. (Something I couldn’t say after Buffy was on for the same amount of time.)

It’s a fairly simple formula that’s been replicated a million times since, but never quite as masterfully. As Darwin suggested, certainly we can credit Ms. Tyra herself, the stern yet loving madam who breaks down her charges only to build them back up as working girls, er, models. But I think we also have to thank the casting department, who will consider no contestant too gangly, ugly, unhinged, damaged or illiterate to compete for the chance at becoming (and here we break into an urgent whisper) America’s… Next Top… Model. If the goal of the show is to turn out working, successful, dare I say super, models, Tyra has failed. But if its true mission is to make me giggle, hold my breath and cry on occasion while never ever forgetting that the center of the universe—fashion or otherwise—is Tyra Banks, then she has won. We all have.

4 responses to “6) America’s Next Top Model

  1. Now that’s not fair. I’m of the mind that Buffy got bad a lot earlier than you are and I still know it took more actual time than Top Model’s been on. One season of Buffy does not equal one cycle of Top Model. Except, I guess, the first one.

  2. True enough. That seven season thing just seemed interestingly coincidental. Though I suppose by February or whenever Top Model returns, that won’t be the case anymore.

  3. you’ve hit on one of my problems with all of these shows, and with ANTM in particular — they always talk about the stakes as if they are really high and that winning will be the road to fame and fortune, while most of the winners dissapear (and as Project RunJay showed, it can actually be worse for your career to win the show than to place near the top). Some people point to American Idol as an example where the winners go on to fame and fortune, but the second or third or sixth place finishers often go just as far (or, as is the case with tonights Golden Globe win, farther).

    Now I know that this shouldn’t affect my enjoyment of the show as it just has to do with what happens when they end, but everytime I try to watch ANTM in particular I cant help ut focus on it.

  4. For me it’s part of the entertainment—Tyra’s delusion that what she’s doing is somehow affecting the world. She strains for legitimacy with the guest stars and judges (or by trying to break boundaries with the occasional gay or plus-sized girl), but the shoots and shows and even the contestants get less credible every cycle. I wonder if I’d like the show as much if I thought it were real, if there were actual stakes. It’s a successful show, ratings-wise, but if it had to withstand the scrutiny that Survivor and American Idol and even Project Runway do, it might change. And I never want that.

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