Editor's Note: This is a weekly guest post from the TV staff at Film.com. Check back here on Wednesdays for more Film.com stories about your favorite shows: Big Brother, The Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars, Survivor, American Idol and America's Next Top Model. Next week: An interview with Survivor host Jeff Probst, plus a preview of Survivor: Gabon.
By Maisy Fernandez
No matter how predictable America's Next Top Model
can be each season -- can Tyra Banks
please quit breathlessly whispering everything at elimination? -- producers and Banks still know how to inject some unexpected life into the show. For instance, during the upcoming 11th season, er, cycle,
we'll see our first transgender contestant, Isis Tsunami.
But the bulk of the surprise often comes in the form of crazy, unenviable challenges that will make you so grateful that you're sitting on your couch eating popcorn -- as a spectator. So in anticipation of the new installation of ANTM, which premieres Wednesday (8 p.m.) on The CW, here are our picks for the Top 10 most difficult challenges to date:
10. Sweaty, Smelly, Stunning?
If there are two times when people don't look their best, it's when they've been camping or after a strenuous workout. To our knowledge, Tyra doesn't do camping ... but she did have models race up 14 flights of stairs in season three, and then immediately participate in an impromptu photo shoot. Sadly, none of them had enough energy left to kick Tyra's ass.
In a challenge that seemed better suited for exotic dancers, models in season six had to practice their balance by strutting around in 10-inch platform heels. I remember covering my eyes and drawing in a sharp breath as a few models' ankles bent into 90-degree ankles before my eyes. Not surprisingly, injuries ensued.
8. Freak Show
I know how awesome I always feel when I have a blemish or a bad hair day. So being charged with looking attractive as a circus freak (think Bearded Lady, Elephant Woman, Cannibal) was a seemingly impossible task. Truly, some looked less ugly than others, but the results were hard to look at.
7. Laser Precision
In a cycle eight Mission: Impossible-like challenge, the girls had to maneuver through a maze of laser beams, striking lovely poses amongst their attempts at graceful contortion. It required flexibility and a real awareness of one's body, both of which are more easily achieved after a few glasses of wine – which, of course, the girls did not get.
6. Ice Bath
In season seven, models posed as nymphs while immersed in ice-cold water. And unlike the average person, they hadn't a shred of body fat for insulation. And I don't care how cute you are, it's hard to look gorgeous when your teeth are chattering.
5. Death Becomes Her
In one of ANTM's eeriest challenges, models in cycle four had to pose as one of the seven deadly sins. In a casket. Which was lowered into a six-foot hole with a crane. Shudder.
4. Creepy Crawlies
Models put on a brave face in cycle three when they were forced to pose for photographs holding a cute, furry, live ... tarantula. This thing was trotting all over the models' faces and heads. To quote Whitney Houston: Hell. To. The. No.
3. Creepy Crawlies, Roach Clip Edition
If you think tarantulas are icky, at least they don't make noise. In season six, models walked the runway while holding and/or wearing enormous Madagascar hissing cockroaches, which had been bedazzled with rhinestones and turned into living brooches. I actually felt sorry for the models and the roaches.
2. Aural Assault
Models in cycle nine had to impress judges by dancing in an Enrique Iglesias video. First, it was a long, grueling day. Second, they were wearing high heels and skimpy outfits. Third, they had to listen an Enrique Iglesias song on a loop all day long. (Honorable mention: In season two, girls were forced to dance in Tyra Banks' lame music video for "Shake Ya Body.")
1. Dead Meat
Tyra takes the models to the meatpacking district, where they are forced to pose amongst animal carcasses while wearing halter tops and/or underwear made of meat. First of all, can you imagine how heavy and awkward it is to wear a pair of steak panties? Second, how unsanitary!
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(Image courtesy of the CW)