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I know that there are many things wrong with America’s Next Top Model but I’m still addicted to it. Things I object to:

1. The crazy things they put the candidates through. Some of them are torturous and the contestants have to perform until breaking point, allegedly because this is the industry standard. Well, the industry standard is crap and the show shouldn’t endorse or perpetuate it. There was another show by Petra Nemkova where she was lovely and nurturing to the girls while still holding them up to professional standards like punctuality and delivering on set.

2. Sometimes the judges are unnecessarily bitchy.

3. Everyone is skinny although there is usually the odd large ‘fiercely real’ girl who never makes it in the end.

4. It’s getting increasingly gimmicky and the girls are expected to shriek and be woo and there is always this cattiness and drama, which I suspect the producers encourage for the sake of good television.

Nevertheless, the show does have some really odd looking people who are transformed into swans in the photos. I love watching that transformation and the art of the fashion shoot. My favourite part of the show is the photo reveals.

It’s also impressive that the show has lasted 20 cycles. This cycle had the added element of male contestants, and there would be only one winner so the boys would be competing with the girls for the same prize. For once, the girls had the edge because women earn better and have more opportunities in the modelling industry.

What I disliked right off was how – although they were competing for the same prize – they divided it into a guys vs girls thing. And how they tried to pair them into heterosexual couples for the first challenge, asking them to kiss at the end of the runway. There were obviously gay guys among the models and they were being asked to perform heteronormativity. Why? Well, because that’s what they’d be asked to do in the industry but they could have saved that for later during the actually challenges. Nevertheless, one of the guys picked another guy to walk with and they accepted that. There was also a transgender girl and the guy who walked with her handled it fairly well, though he did mention a couple of times in his evaluation how he kissed ‘I don’t know what’. Though maybe he did that to accentuate how he overcame something.

It was amusing how the guys right off the bat started saying “where are the girls?” as if it was a dating show. Some of the girls expressed enthusiasm about checking out the guys too, but mostly in an obligatory way. They were much more focussed on the task at hand. Even later, many of the guys seemed intent on hitting on the girls, who accepted the attention but were not particularly swayed by it.

I also found less of the usual cattiness. Not sure whether it was because the presence of the opposite sex shifted the energy towards finding a mate over bitching each other out. The contestants were all supportive of the transgender candidate. Even two of the rival women tried really hard (though ultimately failed) to like each other.

When things got ugly, however, was when everyone turned against Chris H. I felt really sorry for the guy and couldn’t see any of his actions warranting the kind of flak her got. Okay, so he wasn’t there for Nina when she needed him, but that was after she went against him in the group and then refused to accept his apology. His behaviour was classic boy, but because everyone already hated him, he was cast as a ‘bad human being’ for it. In fact, he was the one with a really sad backstory, and people never really gave him a chance although they pretended to (it seemed to me at least).

Speaking of backstories, it’s a bit tiring how the candidates keep repeating theirs. I get that the backstory helps their chances and they need to repeat it each show in case anyone didn’t catch it the last time, but it is annoying and sometimes hilarious, like when two candidates kept interrupting each other’s telling of their story as if it was the saddest backstory Olympics.

In the end, my favourite was Cory. He deserves his own show. It irked me how they kept going on about him being more masculine when androgyny is exactly the point of him.

The one I really began to dislike was Nina. She was correctly diagnosed with having a saviour complex, which fell apart at the first sign of being rebuffed. It’s like – I am saving you, you are obliged to listen to me always. Bah. Though she was a strong model.

I’m happy with how it turned out in the end. And I’m happy that I’ve figured out a way to catch up on this show. Benji is quite interested in it as is our helper E so we’ve got three votes to outnumber V’s grumbling.

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