Sunday, August 11, 2013

America's Next Top Model (Cycle 20) - 20x03 "The Girl Who Gets Married Again"

The last several seasons of ANTM have seen my favorite show of all time staggering with age and insularity, and when I'd heard that Tyra was letting boys on her show, I feared that ANTM was ready to stumble directly into the shark's mouth on account of being on its last legs -- 20 cycles and 10 years, after all -- which explains why I took almost a full week to watch the first episode(s).

And of course, it was worth the wait, allowing for, you know, the remainder of the season. I'm going to say provisionally that the inclusion of men has revitalized the cast, if only for the novelty of Rob Evans explaining how best to show off one's cuts (in my case, purely hypothetical) and/or the more obvious sexual tension among the contestants. But another new development that has me hopeful is the sudden drag queen subtext, which may not be all that sudden -- this is ANTM, and Tyra, after all -- but I'm noticing it more now that I've immersed myself in RuPaul's Drag Race.

The most obvious connection is Cory, who performs in drag as Serena Starr and who happens to be the drag daughter of Mimi Imfurst (who appears in the third season of RPDR, which is also the same season that features Raja, better known to ANTM fans as Sutan, one of the makeup artists from the fourth to the twelfth cycles*). Interestingly, while Cory has not tried to pass for straight by any means -- the moment when he has to pick another model to make out with, he chooses another guy** -- I don't think that he's actually said explicitly that he's gay (I know for sure he hasn't mentioned that he's a drag queen, either). He's done well so far, and considering the variety of skills that drag requires, that shouldn't be terribly surprising, and better yet, he's been extremely likable. 

The show also has a semifinalist, Virgg, who's a trans woman and who receives enough screentime that the producers had me thinking she was a shoe-in to reach the main competition. (Virgg wouldn't have been the first trans woman, though, of course, since Isis broke through back in Cycle 11.) And while RPDR has taken pains to explain that drag queens aren't necessarily transgendered (i.e. most of them live their offstage lives as men), they've had enough contestants who were or would be transitioning that the subject is one that's warranted brief discussion on the program.

Finally, in the third episode, Tyra straight up says, "Can I get an amen?" (And the cross-fertilization between Tyra and the world of drag continues.)

With the sudden presence of men, I'm forced to wonder if the winner (note the singular) will be a guy, since every episode has gone out of its way to underline the thanklessness of being a prop typical male model. The closest analogue I can think of is British Invasion, in which a lot of speculation was spilled about whether America's Next Top Model would permit a British winner. But the flip side is, if Tyra's going to have a themed cycle, then of course the contestants repping that theme are going to win -- why else bring them on? It's not like Tyra to bring someone novel onto the show just to torture them mercilessly, right?

While they're deliberating over the final cuts, Bryanboy says that Daniel rocked the social media aspect of the shoot, I assume because all of the passers-by thought his last name is Radcliffe. I mean, come on:

He's a pair of round glasses away from sparking a Muggle stampede and incurring the copyright wrath of JK Rowling, Inc., and you know if the stylists and producers noticed the resemblance they would've hit the comparison as hard as they could've gotten away with. Daniel even speaks with this weird, unplaceable approximation of, I don't even know, a New Jersey accent? Lawn Guyland? Who knows -- the point is, he sounds like a Brit doing an American dialect. Anyway, moot point, seeing as he didn't make the final cut.

My reflexive favorite is Nina, who is clearly going for an Allison Harvard 2.0 thing with the quirkiness and thick blond hair (though who knows if she'll keep it with makeovers coming up next week). Where 1.0 has been a shrinking introvert, I get the feeling that she's well-aware of the ANTM's archetypes and is playing up the kawaii goofiness and seeking out the role as the shepherd of outsiders (Chris H.***), almost to the point of affectation. I'm certainly not suggesting that Nina is being fake, but she seems much more media savvy than Allison, who may have had the instincts to wrap the Internet around her finger but whose personality rarely came off as exuberantly telegenic, which is the neighborhood that Nina is working in.

... Did I just suggest that she's a street walker?

PS be very careful about performing a Google Image search for "marge simpson" -- make sure you've got plenty of eye and brain bleach on hand is all I'm going to say.

I'm not impressed yet with Chlea, but I was lapping up the lip she gives to Kelly Cutrone. How many people has she argued and feuded with on camera, now? First Louise in Cycle 18 (aka British Invasion), then Harvard girl Maria in the beginning of Cycle 19 and photographer Jez Smith on the set of a shoot at the end of that cycle, and now, Chlea. And then add in all of the people she's getting into Twitter slapfights with, and we start to notice a common thread here.

So Cory used to be called Cory-o the Oreo as a kid. Why do the nicknames from our childhoods invariably suck?

* Incidentally, when I found out about a drag queen whose boy name is Sutan, I remarked to myself, "Huh, what a weird coincidence that the two people I've heard of named Sutan both happen to be into drag!" (Sutan appears once in drag, in fact, on ANTM.)
** Lots of same-sex kissing too -- and I'm actually more than a little surprised that we see two guys kissing. Yes, 2013 and all that, but this is still broadcast tv. Yes, it's the CW, but they still operate under the pleasure of the FCC, and I'm a child of the '80s, so this is all very new and wild for me.
*** Whom we can now refer to simply as Chris -- did Tyra know that Chris S. was just going to be cannon fodder and thus didn't bother asking them to go by different names, à la making Brittany go by "McKey" in Cycle 11?


Ana said...

I came here to see if you said anything about Franco Lacosta.

He needs his own show.

* * * * *
I'm watching the 3rd season of The Great British Bake-Off now and it's interesting to see the contrast in behaviour between that and ANTM (and I think it goes beyond different themes and intentionaly-trashy/intentionaly-not-thrashy aspect).

Ana said...

While I'm here: Franco Costa Is A Treasure.

Maybe not the bits I wouldv'e chosen, but it got a heart from me nevertheless.