Admittedly, the title probably wouldn’t draw in a lot of viewers.  Without the elusive “top” prize on America’s Next Top Model, would there be any incentive be for the girls to allow themselves to be harshly critiqued by the judges or get embroiled in dramatic competition with each other?  Without the “Top,” one would have to wonder: what’s the point?

Adrianne Curry, winner of the very first Cycle of America’s Next Top Model, has been frank for quite some time about her dissatisfaction with the results of the show.  While Adrianne has gone on to a rather unconventional career in reality television stardom, she has not had the fashion modeling success she expected.  She recently posted on her Myspace blog that the promised Revlon campaign turned out to be just convention work…for which she hasn’t been paid.  (She had since deleted the text from her blog, but not before it was widely quoted, including on iVillage’s TV Cocktail.)

Danielle Evans, winner of Cycle Six of America’s Next Top Model, is now echoing Adrianne’s sentiments.  In the March issue of Elle magazine she says, “On the show, I was programmed to think that if I won, I’d wake up the next day and be an Iman or Naomi Campbell.”  Her experience instead was that she wound up in the same New York City model dorms as much younger models, who nevertheless had years of experience under their belts and are so currently popular with major designers.  She goes on to say that she is “so grateful for everything the show has given [her]…but it was humbling at first.”

Both winners’ experience brings up the conflict that many fashion junkies who are also ANTM-addicts feel: do these girls – who are genuinely, breathtakingly beautiful – actually look like today’s top fashion models? 

Reviewing the coverage from this past week’s Fashion Week in New York or a quick flip through any top magazine shows the discrepancy. Fashion currently favors a very young model – maybe fifteen- to eighteen-years old – and Eastern European girls continue to be in very high demand. 

Can a modeling show that has recently not featured many – if any – of either actually even pretend to be relevant?  And if Tyra’s goal is to change the face of fashion by championing “outsider” models, then it would seem that the criticisms leveled at the show by its own winners has a point.  If she wants to claim her models, who are possibly not relevant to current trends, are the “top,” then doesn’t she have some obligation to more actively help champion them to industry heavyweights after the cameras have cut on the show?

Competition shows like American Idol prove that it is possible to find popular talent through the reality format.  Whether or not Tyra can convincingly continue to call her show “America’s Next Top Model” without ever once producing a fashion equivalent to Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken or Carrie Underwood, remains to be seen.

– Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist


Staff Columnist, BuddyTV