(Published Nov. 6, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
Clashing personalities and combustible chemistry energize the current “
Next Top Model” as “Cycle 20” introduces male models into the long-running
The ongoing “Guys and Girls” cycle brings together an impressive gathering of young models, the contest becoming even fiercer for its inclusion of men.
It certainly is nicely chaotic, with some of the 16 contenders hitting it off or immediately getting flirty. But they all have their eyes on the prize, inescapable and cutesy bonding notwithstanding.
The returning judges—supermodel Tyra Banks, fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone, model Rob Evans and fashion blogger Bryanboy—are generally pleased with the mix.
They had interesting things to say about this roster from the get-go. One of the male standouts, Jeremy, impressed Banks with his looks so much that, she said, if she had a daughter, she’d ask the young man, “Please like my daughter!”
Cutrone described another contender, Nina, as “Kurt Cobain’s love child.” And Marvin, whose father is a janitor, was encouraged by Banks and Evans to be more appreciative of his dad’s selfless efforts.
The “ANTM” participants, a crazier mix than usual because of sexual tension and gender politics, are given tasks that reveal character and modeling advantages. Some may stand out for immature behavior, like Chris, who made “enemies” early on for being pesky at the models’ house. He and Marvin have an open rivalry that spices up some episodes, especially since the latter is able to dish out “extreme” putdowns.
The model search still keeps its participants on their toes. One challenge required them to endure a shoot with trained wild animals. They had to become living canvases splashed with body paint in another tough shoot. There was even a challenge where the models “swapped” genders, dressing completely in drag for a time.
The demanding shoots and tasks often have corresponding freak-outs, giving viewers access to these models’ vulnerable sides. Such displays could drastically affect their standing with the judges, or add to voters’ sympathy.
And interactivity with viewers still affects the outcome significantly; the once-eliminated Jeremy and Alexandra were recently brought back because of high social media scores.
The roster is currently whittled down to only a few contenders and the “gender divide” isn’t as focused on, the contest aptly reiterating the importance of modeling ability over gender identity. But sexuality is mentioned from time to time, as in the case of effeminate gay guy Cory, whose chameleon-like modeling has been advantageous.
Prizes include a modeling contract with a top agency and a $100,000 campaign with a popular clothing brand. Most of the contenders have unique looks, and are worthy of more attention and opportunities to represent top brands. It’s difficult to tell if a male or female will win at this point, as all have shown strengths in weekly photo poses.
As for host-judge Banks, she’s still a positive force, a helpful, motherly presence. She’s also the models’ makeup artist from time to time—like she was her fellow supermodels’ back in the day. And while she doesn’t crush the “ANTM” hopefuls’ dreams, she still offers wise and practical advice once they’re eliminated.
Next Top Model: Guys and Girls” airs Wednesdays, on ETC.)