Contrary to what most believe, the art of the “selfie” was not popularized by social media platforms, but by a different beast entirely. That beast is former supermodel/resurrected Barbie in Disney’s underrated masterpiece “Life Size”/author/business mogul/general Queen Tyra Banks’ triumphant celebration of vanity and narcissism, “America’s Next Top Model.” Queen Tyra and her ever-changing panel of expert judges gather up the “fiercest” girls (‘fierce’ used here means: girls you’d typically see trying out septum piercings at the Claire’s in your local mall) from around the country to compete for prizes and the chance of becoming a high-fashion supermodel.
From runway walks to elaborately-themed photoshoots, these girls had to be ready to out-smize, out-pose, and model H2T (head-to-toe) if they intended to snatch the crown. Thanks to a mix of biting, irreverent, and self-aware judges (runway diva coach extraordinaire Miss J. Alexander is a particularly fabulous standout), Banks’ hilarious delusions of grandeur, and a roster of fascinating, emotionally unstable contestants, the show turns out to be a lot more entertaining than it has any right to be. In fact, it’s led to some of the most iconic scenes in reality television history. If the three moments I mention below aren’t enough to make you appreciate “ANTM” for the beautiful disaster that it is, reconsider your uncultured tastes.
3. The Faint
Tyra calls all the girls in before a challenge. Suddenly, she takes a deep, labored breath. “I’ve been working so hard, I’m so tired you guys,” Tyra says, her voice becoming weak, shaky. Seconds after mustering the strength to push herself off the couch, Tyra’s legs buckle and she collapses onto the floor. The girls scream. “Tyra! Call an ambulance! Somebody take her pulse!” Tyra sits up slowly, the girls clutching their mouths, intensely questioning the well-being of their hallowed mentor. Suddenly, a mischievous grin starts to spread across the face, the same grin you’d imagine Tyra having after she won the Daytime Emmy for “Outstanding Talk Show.” “TODAY WE’RE DOING A CHALLENGE ABOUT ACTING!” she screams joyously. Yes, Tyra Banks pretended to faint and let a room full of people be genuinely afraid for her health solely as a means to introduce an ACTING COMPETITION. Your fave could never.
2. Makeover Meltdown
The most important episode of any ANTM season is the makeover episode, known here as “Ty-Overs.” The Ty-Overs are typically drastic and usually result in meltdowns of epic proportions (conveniently, the girl with the biggest aversion to getting her hair cut usually end up with the biggest change). Yeah, sometimes this show is just Tyra Banks reveling in subtle psychological torture for entertainment value while also workshopping different ways to integrate her name into unrelated words. Never is this truer in the case of Cycle 5 contestant Cassandra, who was forced to switch in her long brown locks chopped for a blond “mod with an edge” style that looked like a 12-year-old boy in Vans who requested that his hairdresser give him “The Dylan and Cole Sprouse.” Cassandra’s subsequent emotional turmoil was a thing of poetic beauty.
1. We Were All Rooting For You
Obviously. I consider my first viewing of Tyra Banks’ psychotic meltdown on an ungrateful contestant a truly life-altering moment for me. You may hear people ask your grandparents: “Where were you when you heard JFK was assassinated?” I often ask people: “Where were you when you first saw Tyra Banks scream at Tiffany Richardson that ‘I was rooting for you, we were all rooting for you, HOW DARE YOU?!” It’s the moment you can relive in countless gifs, Tweets, and *dramatically flips over photograph i.e Tyra revealing who stays and who goes*….on Hulu, where every season is now currently available streaming. Thank me later, and always remember: “hoe, but make it fashion.”