Tuesday, October 15, 2013

America's Next Top Model (Cycle 20) - 20x12 "The Guy Who Has a Panic Attack"

True heart, no hurdle, set out by man or nature, will keep me from seeking out thy lovely smizes or the newfangled "booch," not that I swing like that, but hey, it's a novel thing and I'll try anything you suggest once.

In the early parts of the season, I marveled at how much the new format seemed to revitalize the franchise, and the guys have continued to carry the cycle to the overseas portion of the show. Not to say that the girls haven't been pulling their weight -- Nina has finally become the social media beast I expected all along (although I thought she'd be hoovering up all the votes from the start, considering her resemblance to Allison), Jourdan, as boring a reality tv personality as she is, is unparalleled in photos, and Renee has been at the forefront of both the modeling competition and the reality drama (make of that what you will) -- but the guys have provided an unremitting stream of fascinating behavior.

Phil, whose ADHD antics are cast in a negative light on the main show (but which take on a freewheeling and goofy aspect in the recap episode, a portrayal that would complicate the master narrative but which is one of those gems unveiled in recaps), may be old news now, but Cory remains utterly delightful while the lingering figures of Marvin and Chris still captivate because of how they express their masculinities. With the exception of Jeremy, none of the remaining guys are laconic ciphers, and all are in fact so openly expressive that they ably fulfill ANTM's quota of crying. Similarly, Marvin's avowal of camaraderie from a few episodes prior, where he tells his closest friends in the competition in plain (and teary!) terms how he'd be unable to bear any of them going home. Perhaps because of the conventions of the genre as a whole -- not just ANTM, but including series like The Jersey Shore, as well as the wider bro-phenomenon throughout pop culture -- naked expressions of fraternal affection no longer threaten masculinity in a way that used to be automatically coded as gay. What's more, almost none of the guys are too cool for school and are often willing to engage with the show's dumber aspects (at this late stage in the game, I think they're going to miss out on the joys of Tyra's butt-padded tooching teaches, but otherwise, they've played Tyra's games with enthusiasm).

(Meanwhile, over on Project Runway, we've seen the unhinged and violence-threatening male archetype, though of course with a gay spin, with Sandro and Ken. As a further aside, both of them have rather clear rage issues, and I don't mean to make light of them other than to note that traditional modes of maleness are becoming complicated.)

And I'm tickled pink (as it were) that Cory is firmly established as the cycle's den mother, trying to stamp out the pointless blowups that invariably feature on ANTM (my advice to him: Don't! You do realize that's why we I watch this show, yes?). It's preternatural how mature and even-headed he's been in terms of interpersonal dynamics, which would serve him well in his inevitable (I hope!) casting on RuPaul's Drag Race, which would free him from the obvious contempt that Rob Evans has for him.

And finally...

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