Finally. Ty Ty is back in our lives. (But she called herself Ty Ty early in this episode, which makes me never want to call her that again.)
So Queen Tyra is back at the helm of the show she calls “her baby,” America’s Next Top Model. Tyra is clearly still the centerpiece of this jam. The first episode of Cycle 24 (holy shit, are there really that many?) begins with Tyra reclaiming her throne and reminding us all how ANTM has redefined beauty and celebrates all types of bodies and skin colors. That’s kind of a big statement, but sure, let’s go with it. I just want to get to the photoshoots.
We get a quick little preview of the rest of the season, which, more than anything else, looks expensive af. The fashion, the locations, the guests – it all looks top-dollar. Does VH1 have some crazy budget that The CW didn’t have? I’m in for this. Let’s bring back the Top Model glory days. In this preview, I also see a lot of tattooed models, which I’m partial to as a tattooed non-model myself. I also see lots of tears (bring on the model drama). Most importantly, we learn that Next Level Fierce™ is a thing now. This is the new standard in fierceness, and if Tyra and her minions don’t think you are #nextlevelfierce, they can cut you at any time.
Speaking of minions, Tyra’s panel is different than any of her previous seasons, but they rolled over from the one Rita Ora-hosted season, so they’re not technically “new.” They’re new to me though because I didn’t give a hoot about that Rita Ora season. First we’ve got Drew Elliott, the Chief Creative Officer of Paper Magazine. Apparently he’s a pop culture authority. Then we’ve got Law Roach, who is a big-time celebrity stylist and sassy af. I already love him. Finally, there’s Ashley Graham, a supermodel, body activist, and the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She’s hot as hell and I have a crush on her.
Let’s get to the models. In this episode, the judges are going to cut the model field from 26 women to 14. No male models this season, which I’m totally fine with because the only one that was ever awesome was Nyle DiMarco, and no one will ever top him.
We get introduced to a few ladies and get to see a couple minutes of their time in front of the panel. Everyone was supposed to bring one photo that showcases their “raw talent.” Some people clearly did not understand what this meant. But Ivana definitely did. Ivana (23) has a Master’s degree in global affairs and brought a hella stunning photo. She makes it to the next step because she’s – you guessed it – #nextlevelfierce.
Next there’s Khrystyana (32) who has this amazing, curvaceous body and also makes it to the next round. Those hips tho. She is working it.
Shanice (25) has lots of tattoos and a more typical body type that we usually see on this show. She seems to have a sad back story that stemmed from growing up in poverty, and she reveals that her oldest brother recently passed away. She’s been through some shit, but she seems tough. She gets through as well.
Then there’s Liberty. Ugh. Liberty is 20 and from Idaho. Apparently she just learned what a Muslim is and only had two black people in her hometown. I’m kind of loving the diversity on this season so far, and I bet Liberty is already feeling like a white fish out of water. She barely gets through because they think she looks like a country singer (she does), but a couple judges saw potential, so she’s in.
Here’s why I’m not gonna like her. They next show a group of model hopefuls waiting to see the judges discussing politics and how Trump is bad for the country (he is). Liberty chimes in with a super rehearsed response about how she is pro-Trump and is really optimistic about him bringing job opportunities to Americans blah blah blah. Everyone just kind of looks at her like, “Aw, this 20-year-old whose parents named her Liberty is a little clueless.” One thing in her defense is that she does say she “has a lot to learn,” so maybe some exposure to other types of people will be really good for her.
Also, I really appreciated that they showed this conversation. Typically these types of shows steer clear of current events in general, but especially politics. And this cycle of ANTM kind of made it clear that the overarching stance of the cast and show is not pro-Trump. That’s a ballsy move. And it was really cool to see a group of women of different races and backgrounds discussing politics instead of standing there judging each other’s smizes and talking about who has fake tits.
There’s a quick rundown of two models who are not deemed “#nextlevelfierce and two who are, but we don’t really see any of their conversation with the judges. They’re either not gonna make it through this episode or they’re gonna get cut really quickly once the season begins for real because let’s face it, they got no camera time.
Next we get Erin who is (gasp!) 42. Oh, by this time in the episode you’ll have heard Tyra say about 35 times that she removed the 27-year-old age limit that applied to previous seasons. So they make a lot of Erin’s age because she’s a grandmother of three. I gotta say, I’m into her. She is stunning, and she looks exactly like a black Sigourney Weaver. Seriously, look:
Here comes the token “drunk” girl. It’s Liz (24) who seems lit when she walks out (she even trips), but she says she’s sober (ok, whatever). She’s also got some tats and she reminds me of Lisa D’Amato, personality-wise. I decided I liked her during this bit. When she gets a “yes” from the panel, she asks if they can go out for drinks later and Law says, “Just pull out that flask from between your boobs because I know you got one!” Remember when I said he was sassy af? I seriously love him.
And now for the token bitchy girl. It’s 34-year-old-with-the-voice-of-a-12-year-old Christina, who has lots of real modeling experience, but acts like a total asshole about it. Law tells her that her presence is off-putting, and she kind of comes for him. Tyra lectures her and she cries (eye roll). But her photo is good so they let her through anyway. Pretty sure she’s just here for the drama.
Then it’s Jeana (24), who I am already obsessed with. She has Alopecia Universalis and cries a little when she talks to the panel about it. She has almost no hair, but she’s wearing a wig in this bit. I cannot overstate this: she is fucking beautiful. And she’s super unique-looking and seems like a sweetheart. I’m all-in for Jeana.
Maggie (20) walks in and calls herself “white homegirl.” Seriously. So she can gtfo with this nonsense. Her photo is hella good though and looks like a Ralph Lauren campaign, so she’s in.
Sandra is a 22-year-old Muslim who doesn’t smoke, drink, or have sex. She’s stunning and I can’t wait for Liberty to meet her.
Coura comes in and Tyra tells her she looks like an alien in a good way because her beauty is other-worldly. I can see her going far.
Once the field is whittled to 20 women, it’s FINALLY photoshoot time! They’re at the Greystone Mansion in LA being photographed by Renata Raksha, wearing couture clothing and looking amazing. Seriously, the clothing and the styling are both so cool. Standouts from the shoot: Rio (23), Khrystyana, Kyla, and Liz.
Right after the photoshoot, Tyra cuts two girls who have barely been on-screen so far: Laminat and Ilka. Then she surprises the remaining 18 women by telling them they’re about to walk in a fashion show in what they wore in the photoshoot. So they immediately hit the runway. (Runway and a photoshoot in the first episode?! Yas, ANTM!)
All I really remember about this is Liz’s bonkers walk and crazy face. Both of which I freaking loved. When whiny Christina walks, Tyra leans over to Law and says, “There’s your best friend.” Law replies, “That walk is trash.” I LOLed.
Time to go to the Top Model house, which, as usual, is full of giant photos of Tyra. Of course, the house is baller, but – shock! – there are fewer beds than women, which means some bitches ‘bout to get cut. Instead of doing the elimination before bedtime though, they just make a bunch of them sleep on couches and shit until Tyra can be bothered to stop by in the morning to tell people to go home. Oh, and Liz cries her eyes out to a very confused Khrystyana because…Khrystyana is her main competition(?). Because they’re both blonde and curvy? Idk. This was weird and she seemed drunk as hell again.
When Tyra does get there the next day, her hair looks stupid, but everyone (including me) is happy to see her. She’s set up a dramatic red curtain with a wall of 14 photos behind it. You might say they’re… THE PHOTOS OF THE WOMEN WHO ARE STILL IN THE RUNNING TOWARD BECOMING AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL.
Then she says, and I quote: “Behind this fabric is each and every single one of you’s fate.” God. I hate when people say “you’s” or “I’s.” I. Hate. It. The fabric drops and 14 women find out they’re staying. Of course, that means four got cut, but they only focus on one: Erin, the grandmother.
As Erin is walking out with her bags, Tyra stops her and they have a very sweet moment where Tyra wishes her well and Erin thanks her for “changing the game.” BUT WAIT. Tyra has another photo. She hands Erin her photo from the shoot and says, “There are 15 women.” Erin does not get it at first but eventually realizes this means she’s staying and cries her eyes out. It’s pretty great, actually. But I can’t tell you who the F else was cut because they don’t really show anyone else. They’re just like byeeeee.
So here are your 15 models for Cycle 24:
Brendi K., Christina, Coura, Ivana, Jeana, Khrystyana, Kyla, Liberty, Liz, Maggie, Rhiyan, Rio, Sandra, Shanice, and Erin
Oddly, Erin isn’t pictured alongside the rest of the cast on VH1’s page for the show, nor was she featured amongst the other 14 women when ANTM’s Instagram (@antmvh1) posted a few photos of these finalists a few weeks ago. I guess they really wanted that reveal to be a surprise?
Overall, a decent episode. If I get runway and photos in one go, I’m a happy camper. I can’t wait to narrow this down some more though because when there are this many models, it feels like such a rush to get through photoshoots in the allotted episode time.
I really like the diversity of skin color, age, and body types in this season. I think it genuinely is the most diverse one yet, which is good for modeling (and hopefully good for Liberty too). This is gonna be a good cycle, y’all.
Yours in #nextlevelfierceness,
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The authors of this blog are four women with opinions about pop culture. That's all you really need to know.