Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I’m a reality TV junkie. I could justify my viewership by saying that I watch the shows for the social commentary, but that wouldn’t be entirely true — as much as I love a good discussion about the underlying themes of reality television, I also love indulging in the guilty pleasure of watching something completely mindless and ridiculous and fun. For example, I’m not exactly an aspiring model, but I have certainly wasted weekends watching America’s Next Top Model marathons.
After years of careful viewing, of course, I’ve started to group the contestants into categories. These categories are even more apparent in this season’s all-star cycle, in which Tyra Banks brings back contestants from past cycles to compete for some epic challenge that escapes my memory. This week, I will report my Top Model findings, which I’ve gotten down to a science. (Feel free to add your own in the comments section below!)
The Friday Five: ANTM Contestants
1. The Girl Who Rests on “Pretty.”
While most of the other contestants have particularly unusual bone structure, this girl is generally the prom queen all grown up, the girl whose looks most viewers would kill for. No matter how proficient she is in modeling, however, she is usually criticized for being “too commercial” and being appropriate only for catalog. This girl may progress somewhat throughout the competition, but she never wins; Tyra & Co. will be sure to dismiss her because of her traditional beauty, but they will claim to do so because they find her too complacent and unadventurous in her film.
2. The Real Girl.
(Not to be confused with this kind of Real Girl.) The drama in the house usually originates with this girl. The Real Girl tells it like it is, and while some people find her funny and candid, others butt heads with her early on. As the ANTM-equivalent of The Situation, the Real Girl drives the show’s ratings because of the catty arguments she gets into and the occasional hair-pulling that ultimately ensues. She usually dismisses other members of the house as “fake” and declares herself to be one of the few “real” (if not the only) contestants left.
3. The Sweet Southern Girl.
In contrast to the Real Girl, the Sweet Southern Girl means no harm. There’s a fight in the house? She’ll climb up to the top bunk and watch quietly from afar, thank you very much. This girl generally has no enemies and gains a lot of fan favoritism, but her drama-free demeanor usually keeps her from the prize.
4. The Quirky Girl.
The Quirky Girl can come in all shapes and sizes, but modeling isn’t usually her first choice of career. Almost always, she has worked behind the camera before, but she usually has a variety of other interests that will completely creep out the other contestants. (Just think of Broken Baby Doll Allison and her hobby of painting people with nosebleeds!) Nevertheless, this girl usually manages to avoid a lot of the drama in the house as well and usually captures our interest for at least a few episodes. A subcategory of Quirky Girl is Androgynous Girl, a trait that Tyra constantly claims to value but usually doesn’t keep around in the competition for long.
5. The Girl With A Platform.
The Girl With A Platform may come into the competition wanting to become a high fashion model and build her portfolio, but she has another goal in mind as well — raise awareness of a social or health issue so that viewers will notice. Sometimes the girls are edited this way, but Tyra is a sucker for a Girl With A Platform and will keep her around for as long as possible (regardless of total performance in the competition). Whether this girl differentiates herself by her weight, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or other trait she believes defines her, viewers will constantly see her in the confessionals talking about how much the trait impacts her life.
What categories of contestants do you often notice on America’s Next Top Model?