Didn’t see that one coming did you?
***Warning – Spoilers lie ahead***
So for the last few years I’ve been really into watching America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). I’m not really sure when I started liking it or what got me into it, but it’s a great show. It has a lot of awesome parts that are focused on fashion photography which I find quite interesting. Some of the photo shoots they do are quite creative and use some cool concepts, some of them I think are a little overdone in the corn stakes, but usually pretty entertaining to watch and get ideas from. The drama of a bunch of bitchy models living in a house is obviously fraught with stress and arguments and clashing egos, which is awesome and usually identifies the “villain” girl(s) in the series (or cycle as the show calls it).
This cycle they broke with the tradition of having massive audition process where they have a stream of hopeful models come through and strut their stuff, this cycle they went back through the previous years and called back a bunch of the previous models who were popular, had big personalities or came close to taking the title but missed out. There were some models it was great to see again having a shot at it and others who I hoped I’d never see on my television screen again. The latter I guess was inevitable though. People love to hate the hateable!
The two extremes of this for me are the models Allison Harvard and Alexandria Everett. Allison (pictured to right, photo by Keith Major) first appeared in cycle 12 of ANTM and was my favourite from the start. She looked a bit strange and had a pretty kooky personality. She mentioned in the first episode that she had never had a blood nose and was jealous that Tyra got them all the time. It was pretty awesome. Her gigantic eyes gave her a really distinct look and her photos, while sometimes judged by Tyra and the judging panel as being samey in her facial expressions, always looked great.
On the other hand, Alexandria was a girl that I didn’t think was particularly physically attractive (to me), which was accentuated by the fact that she had a spectacularly cocky and self important personality. She clashed with every other girl on the show but maintained that it had nothing to do with her as she’s the greatest person in the world. She would turn on an almost over the top “nice” facade when they had to do any tasks where they would be interacting with potential clients, which the other girls all saw through when she turned into a massive bitch the moment it finished.
So those two along with a whole bunch of other girls from previous cycles of the show all the way back to cycle one were brought together to battle it out for the title of America’s Next Top Model All Star. The show was enjoyable throughout, with the same usual elation and frustration at the various girls that get sent home along the way. The one you love to hate sticks around longer than you’d like them to, but really, deep down you don’t mind that much because it is fun to hate on them.
There were a couple of things through the season that stuck out to me. One was model Shannon Stewart from the shows first ever cycle, the out and proud Christian girl with unshakable values on what she would and wouldn’t do, regardless of how little sense it made to the judges, other contestants of the viewers. Here’s an example. She wouldn’t ever pose in lingerie as she believed that her husband was the only person who should see her wearing lingerie. However she would pose in a skimpy as hell bathing suit that both looked like lingerie and was smaller than a lot of lingerie. However she refused to pose in lingerie that looked like very modest bathing suit tops and bottoms. It seemed that it didn’t have anything to do with what the garment looked like, or how much skin she was showing off, it was completely to do with the name of the piece of clothing.
Check out these images to illustrate how it doesn’t make sense. In this first picture Shannon will wear the “swimsuit” bottom on its own, which is quite small as swimsuits go, but she won’t wear the lace shorts that are supposed to go over the top, because they look like underwear.
This next image is the outfit that she refused to wear in a challenge once they had traveled to Greece, the international location for this cycle. You’d never know that the clothes pictured were technically “underwear” as they look like pretty generic swimsuits. But, the fact that they were in fact categorized as “underwear” meant that Shannon refused to take part in the challenge, and as a result was eliminated at the judging.
There were some other girls who I thought were a bit annoying like the eventual cycle winner Lisa D’Amato. She’s a super “out-there” type girl who has the back story of overcoming all sorts of abuse from her childhood and wants to enthusiastically as humanly possible be a role model for all girls to show that no matter what you’ve been through you can do and be whatever you want. Her energy was irritating, and in my life, she’s the kind of person that I would actually actively go out of my way to not have to interact with. I’m sure she’s a lovely girl, but even the small edited slices of Lisa I saw each week on the show was too much for me to handle.
What was the most eye opening and shock moments of the entire cycle however happened in the last 5 minutes of the whole show. Just as the final segment had finished and the girls had done their last competitive catwalk challenge, instead of cutting to the usual final judging of the girls’ last challenges, we found the show throwing a massive curve ball at us! I’ll get to that shortly.
The final runway of the series was a really cool Goddess themed event where the girls had to dive into a big pool of water and swim to the other end before coming out and doing some John Woo style wire work before landing and doing their epic crowd pleasing runway walks. The final three girls for the All Star cycle were probably my all time favourite model from the show Alison Harvard, the previously mentioned winner Lisa D’Amato and “ghetto” chick Angelea Preston. I haven’t spoken about Angelea much here though she was one of the biggest personalities that has been in the show, but I’m about to open up a whole can of ghetto worms.
So we finish the final runway challenge and prepare to see the final judging. But instead the show cuts to what seems to be an alternate ending. The judges announce that after the show wrapped the producers discovered something about Angelea that rendered her ineligible to be crowned the winner of America’s Next Top Model All Stars, so they had decided to re-shoot the final judging without Angelea there, and judge Lisa and Alison without the extra competition and influence of being judged against Angelea. They went on with the usual judging and eventually Lisa D’Amato was declared the ANTM All Star. Personally I think Alison was robbed, but what can you do? I’m sure she’ll do ok for herself.
So what happened with Angelea? Did she win and then they found out something that means she shouldn’t have? There are a lot of blogs and articles online about what is rumoured to have happened, but I think that due to the fact that they had to re-shoot the final judging would suggest to me that Angelea had originally won the show. If she had come second or third, why would they have even had to mention the fact that she was ineligible to win? They could have just let it go to air, she didn’t win, so who cares what she did wrong really? It’s not like a Big Brother type deal where the public spent money to vote for her, so there really isn’t any obligation for full disclosure of what goes on behind the scenes. It would seem to me that they had to take the win away from her after they’d already shot the scenes where she was announced the winner, which I assume would have been filmed while they were still in Greece, so to re-shoot on a different set, back in LA they had to give some sort of explanation.
It was a massive shock right at the very end of the whole cycle that actually made it seem a shame that we had to watch her through everything that went on during the cycle, for a tacked on re-shoot that changed the whole game. Crazy!
Anyway, there was one thing I wanted to talk about following this cycle, which was a real gripe of mine. There were a few things this season that I think were so uncomfortably forced that they come across as stupid. One of them was during a challenge where the girls all had to write, record and make a music video for their own songs. That would have been a pretty intense and cool challenge by itself. But, Tyra in some sort of brain fart decided that instead of just writing, recording and making a music video for a song, the girls should crowbar in the words “Pot Ledom” into their songs, which is Top Model backwards. OH MY GOD GUYS IT’S SO GENIUS! What the hell? So the girls all did their songs, and then had various incarnations of Pot Ledom sung, spoken, rapped or whatever jammed in over the top of it. Then, because the point of the videos was so they would be “viral”, which Tyra also thinks she can force to happen, she got some internet meme sensation dude to come in and he and her would cut footage of themselves in over the top of the video lip syncing. I can’t remember his name and I’m not even going to bother to look it up. It was a hopeless attempt at trying to manufacture something as organic and chaotic as what becomes viral online and what doesn’t. It was all very contrived, and the whole Pot Ledom thing made me cringe every time one of the girls forced it out of their mouths.
The other thing that irritated me was the final “video editorial” the girls did, which was a representation of Tyra’s first novel, Model Land. The CW network must put a lot of stock into Tyra and ANTM to let her use the show as a blatant promotional vehicle to plug her book, which not only sounded incredibly lame but also like a paint by numbers story on how to copy Harry Potter but make it about young models instead of young wizards. Even thinking about the things she explained that happen in the story to the main character “Tookie” make me angry that they slammed it into the show as one of the big final concepts they used for a visual challenge. It had some ok visual elements but overall the whole idea behind it was horrible and come across as a forced bit of self promotion by Tyra of a book that I’m sure has sold well but must be selling to a very specific demographic, of which I am not a member.
So all in all despite hitting a few snags along the way it was a pretty fun cycle of the show and quite cool to see some of the old models back doing their thing.
Check it out if it’s on, but don’t go out of your way to see it now it’s finished. You’ve read this blog so you know Lisa wins.