Tyra Banks has officially taken her show back from Rita Ora, and so in Monday night’s season premiere, she got down to what she does best: tricking people into thinking their dreams have been dashed forever.
It’s good to know that after one season away from the madness of America’s Next Top Model, Tyra hasn’t changed one bit. Per usual, the judging panel auditioned and critiqued the aspiring contestants in this episode, then had them wear uncomfortably voluminous garb for a photo shoot, and as usual Tyra invented a phrase: “next-level fierce.”
Since the show has lifted its age limit for contestants, anyone age 18 and up was eligible to compete. There’s also a heightened emphasis on acceptance of varying body types, and there’s one model who suffers from alopecia. Another contestant is an ageless 42-year-old mom named Erin who’s determined to defy the odds as the oldest contestant in the history of the show.
By episode’s end, Tyra has to reveal which models have made the cut—they’re all told that only 14 of them will continue on in the hopes of becoming America’s next top model. Erin finds out she’s allegedly been cut and is naturally disappointed. “My kids would’ve been proud. If I would’ve made it, I would’ve told them that they can do anything, be anybody,” she says, and cries.
But then in steps the gorgeous, lying fairy godmother Tyra Banks.
Erin is just one step from the elevator, certain that her journey will end there, when Tyra reappears. “Hey,” Tyra says and whispers, “I’m so, so sorry.”
After wishing Erin “good luck,” Tyra turns back around and tells Erin that, actually, she MADE THE CUT. “There’s 15 girls,” Tyra says through a devious Cheshire smile. Not 14.
Erin yells, “Tyra, stop!”
It was all worth it for that moment, and great acting from Tyra because I was certain Erin was gone. There’s even deeper meaning to the moment. “Girl, I started modeling when I was 15 years old,” Tyra tells her. “And you are number 15.” Ah, there’s the tie-in. She taketh away and then she giveth as if she’d never taketh. It’s a beautiful thing.