America’s Next Top Model Cycle 20 Premiere Recap: I Think, Therefore I Boochby Shilo Adams / August 3, 2013
America’s Next Top Model: Guys and Girls, that’s what.
Rather than the typical casting episode, the first episode of cycle 20 brings us two cuts before the final cut, as the pool of reality famewhores and lost children looking for means of validation gets whittled down from the initial eleventy jillion (because everybody applies for Top Model – twice!) to 35, thanks to Tyra’s first ever appearance at a pre-casting bootcamp casting. Of course, everybody who didn’t make it through the initial cut got their prize already by Miss Banks gracing them with her presence, but for the rest of these fools, including pale brunette Bianca, “guys guy” Jeremy, and Alexandra, who wouldn’t let a car accident get in the way of her fierceness, it’s off to bootcamp after they get a personal call from Tyra.
Also among the potential drama queens we’ll be snarking about this season are Delten, an (overly tan) Alaskan plumber whose look is very Abercrombie; Mike, a 27-year-old (!) ice cream man who was personally selected by Tyra; and Staten Islander Danny, a man after my own heart who has seen every cycle and likes to rap. But before the boys can get a chance to acclimate themselves to the wonders of Tyraland, a mystical world only ladies and reality TV junkies have ever been, it’s time to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Top Model (I’m so old, you guys) with a masquerade runway show at an old theater in Los Angeles. With big hair, tiny lingerie, and a whole lot of sexual tension, this is a Victorian Eyes Wide Shut, minus all the uncomfortable Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman sex scenes. It’s also the first time the boys and girls will see each other, as they’ll be masked to begin the show, one will select their runway partner, and at the end of the catwalk, they’ll rip off their masks and kiss each other. The judges will be in attendance and get to see them work the runway and try to remain composed during what will be their first photo.
Let’s meet more contenders! In the building are Marvin, a guy from the Bronx (with a unique face) who’s been stabbed; Jeremy, a Christian who doesn’t believe in sex before marriage; androgynous Cory, who thinks he has an advantage over the decidedly All-American crop of male models; 19-year-old Jourdan, married and divorced when she was 18; and Virgg, currently in the midst of transitioning from male to female.
Finally, the show begins with a powder-faced Frenchman introducing each of the judges (including a masked Tyra, wearing a very couture black dress with prominent shoulders and a high-front slit) and calling for both the females and males of Top Model to join him on stage. The ladies are wearing capes and various lingerie (some two-piece, some one-piece, all very revealing), while the men are in capes and silky shorts, because who doesn’t wear a cape when they go to sleep, am I right? One by one, the master of ceremonies alternates between calling one male and allowing him to pick a female to walk the runway with and doing the same for the females. Most notable among the pairings are wobbly Anjel and Chris S., who tries to overcompensate for his partner’s weak legs with a big kiss (that he jokes turned him straight); Virgg and bearded Phil, the former smearing her lipstick at the end of the runway to try and make an impression and the latter imitating her; glamazon Jourdan and Justin, the only taller female-shorter male combination of the bunch; Cory-Rhyan, the only male-male coupling, which was spear-headed by the former in a bid for attention and “being true to himself”; and Bianca-Chlea, the only female-female coupling, with the latter claiming to want to be the female Diddy.
Now that they’ve been properly introduced, since I always greet people I meet with a tongue down their throat, it’s time for the boys and girls to cohabitate backstage during the interview day, the most infamous aspect of a Top Model casting show. Aside from tears (usually mine), an embarrassing Tyra moment, and claims of “you’ll be seeing me” from rejected contenders, of course. While the hormones are going into overdrive, mostly from girl crazy Marvin, Tyra and company get down to business with the interviews, most of which typically focus on the hardships that have been faced in their pre-Top Model journey. Jeremy used to be fat, Alex’s family lost their business when the economy went bust, Marvin’s dad was a janitor, Jourdan had a strict dad, Chris H. was kicked out of his house at 18, Phil used to be homeless, Virgg just started her hormone replacement therapy, Cory was bullied a lot (and used to be called “Tyra” as an insult), and Kanani has a young child – everybody sing! There might be the occasional relaxed/non-“story” interview (Ronald wrongly thinks his only competition is the black guys, Mike gets asked out a lot at his food truck, Renee shows off the pageant wave she learned from winning Miss Trinidad & Tobago, Chlea thinks she has a Nicki Minaj booty, etc.), but this is Top Model at its Top Model-ist.
From the photos they take the time to show, Jeremy’s a little bland but has potential, Alexandra is already dynamic and interesting, Mike has a tight mouth but does well for this being his first modeling thing, Jourdan’s too shoulder, Chris H. has a strong face, and Instagram model Virgg, who won a competition Tyra threw, worked well with Phil, as the two have the best composite photo that made it on air.
Top Model mansion time!
As ridiculous as a 35-person Top Model season would be (please let this be the next gimmick), it’s time to narrow that field down a whole 9 to 26, with the help of masquerade masks with each contestant’s face. Among those cut are weak-legged Anjel, who needs a burger and classes on how to walk in heels, and Ronald (sorry, DJ Stokes!), but everybody else is still there. However, the season will have 16 contenders in total, so the other 10 will only get one night in the Tyra Castle, with its random phrases painted on the walls and mustache decorations (I didn’t see any pictures of Tyra or former Top Models, which made my head explode – luckily, I had a spare, so I could finish this recap). Jourdan continues getting mondo amounts of screentime, whether it be related to Renee thinking she’s the strongest contender, the mutual attraction between her and Jeremy (despite her having a boyfriend), or her annoyance with Alexandra, who she deems to be over-the-top. Meanwhile, walking stereotype Don, a tattooed aspiring rapper/club promoter whose three most important things are money, women, and attention, is pretty much already planning to cheat on his girlfriend if he makes it to the cast. So, there’s that.
Before the final cut, though, Tyra and Rob break the cast into gender equity groups and give secrets to what it takes to be a successful model. Tyra tells the girls that there’s a lot more flexibility in being a female model, as they have everything from lingerie to purses to jewelry, skin products, and hair care, while Rob warns the boys against falling into the temptations that they’ll be dealing with and advises them that as long as they keep their head down and work out, they’ll work. Also touched on is Tyra’s desire for sexuality without crossing over into porn/men’s magazine material and a male model she was dating cheating on her in Italy and Kimora Lee Simmons (!!!) calling her to let her know. Would that Kimora be a judge on this show again, you guys. RIP, season one.
So, once everybody mingles again, Chris H. starts hitting the boys in the nuts with boxing gloves. As one does, of course. He thinks he’s being cute and playful, but more than one of his fellow males tell him to, y’know, quit. That tension follows him to the next photo shoot, which takes place in downtown Hollywood. They’ll be wearing black leather (what’s with the fetish-y tone of these challenges?) and placed in front of a white background, having to pose while being projected onto a nearby building for everybody to see. Passersby (and Top Model plants) can text their votes for who they like, which will impact who makes it to the cast and who gets left out in the cold. America’s Next Top Model: The Little Matchstick Girl realness. While Cory and Renee bond over being mixed race, Mike dons a leather vest and goes first in the challenge, getting comfortable fairly quickly. Renee serves (as does Kanani), Nina becomes a shill for the social media aspect of the show, Chris H. overthinks every aspect of his shoot but eventually loosens up, and Cory’s femininity (and mesh, club-ready top) threaten his chances, as does Jourdan’s self-esteem. For his part, Johnny is perplexed at the idea that someone conventionally attractive could have low self-esteem, but as we’re reminded umpteen times (thanks, editors), Jourdan married a guy who made her feel really bad about herself and she’s yet to get over that.
Also of note during the shoot, the hormones are having a negative impact on Virgg, Delten’s same-y but tries to make up for it by meeting the voters, Chlea can’t pronounce the word “significant” (Diddy indeed), and Marvin has the weight of the Hispanic population of the United States on his shoulders. America’s Next Top Model: United Nations. Then there’s some drama between Jeremy and Jourdan, the latter of which thinks he’s following her around like a puppy, Chris H. comes clean about why he’s so socially awkward (basically, awful mom), and Marvin has a moment on the phone with his dad where he thanks him for working a menial job to get him where he is today, followed by my eyes glazing over because two hours of Top Model is a lot of Top Model.
(Bryanboy is in a pair of large bunny ears and a jacket that is almost literally screaming BLANCHE DEVEREAUX CIRCA 1986 at me. Carry on.)
Here’s what they say:
Chris H. – overthinker
Alexandra – tenacious but car model-y
Jourdan – zero confidence
Danny – fans loved him, but he’s shrinking (Honey, I Shrunk the Model! Also, America’s Next Top Shrunken Model. Either/or.)
Marvin – unique but dorky in a bad way
Virgg – her hormones are having an adverse effect on her chances
Nina – “Kurt Cobain’s illegitimate daughter” (I would have gone with “baby Allison Harvard”, but that’s just me)
While waiting in the bus before the final eliminations, a tearful Virgg goes to a producer and asks to speak to Tyra. Once there, she quits the show, which Tyra is proud of her for, since she’s putting her health above everything else. (And since Tyra is knowledgeable about the impact that hormones can have on someone transitioning, she’s completely sympathetic/understanding.) Even though she feels guilty for letting Tyra down, Virgg has to leave the competition to take care of herself, but since the hormones take about a year to calm down, she could be back for a future cycle.
And here we have your top 16 of America’s Next Top Model: Battle of the Sexes:
1. spunky Alexandra
2. old ice cream guy Mike
3. Miss Trini Renee
4. Cory aka “Tyra”
5. divorced Jourdan
6. Don (sorry Don’s girlfriend)
7. Jiana, lover of beards
8. tiny Chris S., “5’10 1.4”
9. big-bootied Chlea
10. All-American Jeremy, whose mom pushed him to join
11. Nina and her hula-hoop
12. Phil and his duct tape shoes
13. Bianca, arguably the least interesting of the top 16
14. Chris H., who looks like a guy named Chris I knew in high school
15. Kanani, whose name isn’t actually Kanani (it’s Bianca, but we can’t have two people named Bianca and two named Chris)
16. reptilian Marvin, whose dad was a janitor (and don’t you forget it)
They’ll be walking in a runway show for Guess, to be overseen by CEO Paul Marchiano. And to begin at the top of a building.
America’s Next Top Model: Spider-Man.
Additional thoughts and observations:
-For those of you wondering about how the heck a mixed-gender Top Model will work, there’ll be one winner, rather than a male winner and a female winner. How they’ll judge a male against a female, I don’t know, but they’ve tried more ridiculous stuff before.
-I feel like with Jeremy’s “guys guy” comment, we might be headed for a homophobia talk/fight and you guys, I’m not looking forward to that. Whatsoever.
-Who’s everybody’s favorites thus far? On the female side, I like Alexandra, Nina, and Renee, while on the male side, I like Cory and Chris H.
-Other opinions: If I saw Mike on the street or if he was a blind date or something, I’d think he was absolutely gorgeous, but he’s too old to be a model. I don’t like Don’s personality and his tattoos will get in the way of any type of high fashion modeling. Bianca’s boring, Jiana’s boring, Phil’s a mess, Chris S. is too short to be a male model, Chlea just wants to be famous, Kanani’s beautiful but I’m already tired of hearing about her kid, and Jourdan’s beautiful but her personality is the pits.
-Never in my life have I seen a plumber who looks like Delten. Are we sure he’s not a plumber in a porn movie? Because that’d make more sense.
-Can we talk about how Rob is the male Tyra? His comment to Marvin about not knowing his dad, after Marvin had mentioned being embarrassed that his dad was a janitor, was straight out of the Butterfly Banks playbook.
-What did we think of Tyra’s new weave? I kind of loved it, especially the color.
-Whose talking heads will be the best this season? I’m betting on Cory and Chlea being really funny.
-I have to say, I was really disappointed that Virgg wasn’t able to compete in the competition, because I thought she was beautiful and could have made it pretty far. (I also loved that she got the inspiration to model from Isis.) Hopefully, she’ll be strong enough to come back in a future cycle and be better equipped to handle everything.
-Next week on America’s Next Top Model: The models attempt to walk down the side of a building (likely while smizing, tooching/booching, and fearing for their lives), while a mock-wedding photo shoot brings Jourdan down. Because did you know she was married and divorced at 18? I didn’t.