'America's Next Top Model': Get Your Freak On

The newest crew on ANTM is a cast of characters

Hard to believe it’s been seven years since Adrianne Curry won Cycle 1 of America’s Next Top Model.  Since then, we, the audience, have dieted on a steady stream of model headshaves, plus-size promoters, cat fighting and smizing (for you non-devotees, that's smiling with your eyes).  Names like CariDee, Saleisha, Toccara, Jaslene and McKey are the new Jennifer, Samantha, Laura, Kristin and Lisa.

Last night was the premier of the 15th cycle of supermodel Tyra Banks's worldwide phenomenon. This year, she’s classing up the joint with a big wig industry icons (designers Diane Von Furstenberg, Zac Posen and Roberto Cavalli) and a high-fashion theme: The winner gets a spread in Italian Vogue and a contract with IMG. Like many diehard ANTMers, I watched with baited breath as the contestants bickered and bonded, then found themselves divided into categories like “sexy,” “quirky,” “blonde” and “strong bone structure.”

And while the first episode was entertaining as always, I realized that ANTM has fallen into the same pattern as other reality shows before it, like Real World and Project Runway. That is to say, “cast members” can be stereotyped within seconds of appearing on screen. Like with the Real World: Isn’t there always “the frat boy,” “the sassy ethnic girl,” “the gay one.”? Same here.

Amongst the newest -- and everlasting -- cast of characters:
 
The rapper

 “I'm 5'10", 127, I make a wish every night at 11:11.” So go the mellifluous rhymes of “I’m a white girl who can rap!” Sara. She follows in the gangsta footsteps of Brooke, who rapped her way onto Cycle 7.
 
The girl who's never been out of [insert Southern state here]
This year, Kendal from Alabama picks up the geographically-challenged slack. She also provides comic relief with her pronouncement that she is a virgin because she doesn’t “like semen.” Um, I'm pretty sure that doesn't make you a virgin -- it just makes you normal.
 
The hot mom

Bethenny Frankel and Kendra Wilkinson have got it all wrong. They key to getting your pre-baby body back is to give birth at 15, when you have a swift metabolism and primo skin elasticity on your side. With such advantages, Liz and Sara sport stomachs which resemble that of a hungry 13-year-old body.

The girl with something wrong-but-of-so-right about her
Isis was transgendered. Heather had Asperger's syndrome. This season, the freak bus is being co-driven by Liz (she looks like a man -- but a beautiful man!) and Ann (6’2” with a waist Ralph Lauren would kill for.)
 
The model who fell on hard times

Kayla grew up very poor and had to catch zzzs in a sleeping bag, while Liz juggles two minimum wage jobs with full-time school and parenting. That sucks, but it’s nothing compared to previous ANTM hardships like Rae,  who was abducted at a gas station and sexually assaulted, or Tahlia, who has horribly burned in a childhood accident.
 
The inadvertent racist

Not even halfway through Day 1, Emily wrote in her diary, "I almost got a black roomate -- Ew." But…she’s not racist! She swears! Too bad her roommates, who somehow managed to sneak a peak at her private words, don’t understand that.

The quirky religious one
Remember Amber from Cycle 13, who believed Jesus wanted her to change the world through modeling? Well, Esther, who, as a modern Orthodox Jew is this season’s token religious zealot, doesn’t even compare. But it should still be interesting to see how she navigates the whole “no electricity from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday” rule. Because flat irons never sleep.

Did you watch the ANTM premiere? Chime in below.

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