The un-triumphant return of "America's Next Top Model"


Sept. 30, 2005, midnight | By Lynda Seumo | 16 years, 7 months ago

The new season is duller than ever


Tyra Banks has had four seasons to discover, groom and prepare America's Next Top Model, and while she has had some success in the past, one thing is for sure: her fifth try is just not good enough. The fifth season's premiere of America's Next Top Model was mediocre at best. The cast is completely dead and the judge panel was lacking personality and, surprisingly, Janice Dickinson.

The new cycle kicked off with a two-hour season premiere. The first hour detailed how the group of girls that arrived in Los Angeles was narrowed down from 36 contestants to 13. Each girl acted as if their placement in the top 13 was a sure thing, declaring that they were here to stay. Needless to say, some girls were extremely disappointed when Tyra did not call out their name at the end of the hour.

The girls' first challenge, which took place in the courtyard of their L.A. hotel, was brought to them by Ms. J. Alexander a.k.a. "runaway diva extraordinaire" (who hasn't changed one bit), Jay Manuel and Ms. Banks herself. Two at a time, the girls had to step forward and strike a pose associated with a famous supermodel, whose name was yelled out by Jay.

The girls all put their lips in a sexy pout with their heads slightly tilted back when Giselle Bundchen was called out, but they had no idea how to mimic Linda Evangelista beyond the standard one hand on the knee and the other on the hip pose. Not that it really pertains to their careers, but maybe these aspiring models should have known the histories of supermodels who preceded them.

Only the first hour of the premiere was entertaining, foreshadowing a dull and boring season. If watching the selection process captivates a viewer more than watching an actual episode, then each episode might as well be made into a season premiere. Unfortunately, it is not possible, but fortunately for Tyra and her posse, true die hard fans of the show will still watch religiously.

By the end of the first half, the top 13 girls were chosen, and the second half of the show proceeded as a normal episode would. There was a challenge, a photo shoot and an elimination. In the second hour, the girls showed off their personalities – or lack thereof. Unfortunately, instead of Yaya or Eva this season we have lifeless girls, such as Cassandra – a plain old beauty pageant queen from Texas who is criticized for not being emotional.

The girls in the previous seasons lacked modeling skills but made up for it through their personalities. These girls have great poses, pretty decent catwalks and okay pictures but are as blank, emotionally, as untouched canvases.

The only two girls who might succeed in catching viewers attentions are Kim and Diane. Kim has a tomboyish look that matches her preppy style, and her inability to walk in heels or even to resemble a model will surely have some people rooting for her. Diane's overflowing charisma and larger physique make her stand out from the crowd and will help her win the hearts of viewers who hope a plus-size model will win in the end.

Tyra has got her work cut out for her if she wants to match seasons four's mediocre success or even attempt to attain season three's immeasurable success. She has a cast full of plain Janes, and the departure of Janice Dickinson from jury duty, her ever-present source of blunt comments and censorship-pushing remarks, has left this season's prospects looking dim. Dickinson is replaced by Twiggy, a British supermodel who seems more content to reinforce the other judges' comments than making some of her own. The show may gain some momentum as it goes along but, as of now, the odds are stacked against it.



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