America’s Next Top Model is back with 31 of the freshest contestants we’ve seen since, er, last season, and that’s not all that’s new. By the time the hour is over, however, nine contestants’ modeling futures will end up in the gutter while the remaining 22 get a nasty little surprise. 

If any in the group had majored in math, they would have figured this week’s results were too good to be true: the largest group to make it to the ‘show’ was cycle 20’s 16 models. So … what gives? Kelly Cutrone is the bearer of bad news at the end of the premiere, so we’ll save it for then.

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Some Old and New, Some Borrowed, Some Fierce

America’s Next Top Model’s cycle 21 premiere, aptly titled “The Boyz are Back,” is the second co-ed competition and, just like last time, it’s gonna be fierce. Since this is only the second guys and dolls farcical romp, I’m calling it new. What else is new? 

Icon Tyra Banks reigns. I love this lady. She is off the chain and bootylicious as always. Period. Also returning is Kelly Cutrone, who announces she’s ready to shatter some dreams, which she later proves by dressing down a male model who tosses a compliment Tyra’s way. More on that in a minute.

Miss J is back. Man, I missed her, didn’t you? Some people find the legendary runway coach extraordinaire’s comments harsh and demeaning. I think not. She’s entertaining and gives it to the girls straight as if she was their mama. Just like Tyra.

Cory Hindorff makes a guest appearance. Borrowed from last season’s cycle, male model Cory Hindorff, looking as fine as ever and managing the troops like a tenured ringleader, hosts the first good part of the show. It’s impressive how elegantly he runs the sequence with such confidence and aplomb after his sometimes insecure episodes last cycle. He goes so far as to shut model Keith down at one point. Doh! #Respect

Brianboy is gone. Yay! What a epic fail that execrable social media spanker was … dang. I’m okay with America’s Got Talent involving America in the voting, but that’s because AGT wants to know who will buy tickets to see the performers after the fact. Let’s face it, though, you and I (meaning me) don’t know jack smack about modeling and we (meaning me) are better off as voyeurs rather than judges.

You’re stuck with me.  So, what qualifies me to recap and evaluate America’s Next Top Model if I know nothing about modeling? Here’s what qualifies me: I love watching it with glee, second only to my excitement for a good pair of screw-me pumps and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk. Yes. ANTM has been this girl’s guilty pleasure for 20 cycles. #Truth The authorities may take away my feminist card for this, but it will be worth it. I digress. 

Cory Orchestrates the Opening

Cory announces to the group of 31 male and female hopefuls — who are corralled into separate sections of the room, by the way, and can’t see each other — that they are to create their own hashtags, paint themselves in neon paint, dance down the catwalk and take a selfie of themselves. That selfie is to be the image that the three judges will use during casting, which is the next step of the process.

Time for Some Candid Video Introductions 

We see lots of clips of the men whooping and hollering like bulls ready to run the streets of Pamplona on San Fermin. The women are giddy and curious. Each clip shows a contestant introducing themselves and announcing their relationship status. Hm. Are we going to have an orgy on our hands this cycle?

Already, descriptions are materializing in our brains, are they not? We’re beginning to figure out who’s a tool, who’s a poser, who is always on the defense, who has an interesting medical condition, who’s had a hard-knock life and who has that special combination of beauty and humility that just might get them to the final two.

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall, Who is the Hottest of Them All?

While the genders get all dolled up, they each get a chance to make love to a two-way mirror, though they don’t know that at first. The guys start strutting their stuff then learn the women can see them. They start playing it up for the mirror, then the tables are turned and the guys get to watch the girls. All kinds of flattering comments are flying around. Everyone loves Kari Calhoun, who has these fantastic eyes, pouty lips and silky fawn-colored hair. No one is impressed with Will Jardell’s wet-paper-bag physique, which he himself doesn’t seem all that into. All the girls swoon over Keith Carlos, who reminds them of Tyson Beckford. (Fans self.) And then the games begin. 

Each model has to walk the runway with someone of the opposite sex and that’s the first time they all meet. Tyra descends upon the scene from a black cloth swing, she and Cory make some announcements and then Miss “Darth” J enters swathed in black. As always, she is delicious in every way.

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On to the Casting Couch

Next, each contestant comes in front of Tyra, Miss J and Kelly Cutrone, sees their selfie and talks a bit about themselves. We know there are 31 hopefuls present, but only about 18 are highlighted and they are the ones we’ve already been watching featured so far in the episode. Miss J is dressed and behaving rather demure. Do you think she was told to tone it down a bit from the last couple times she was on? What’s with that? I love her outrageousness and hope it reemerges as we progress next week. 

As each competitor enters the room, we see a grainy clip from wannabe application videos. Then each comes in barely clad (Hello, gentlemen!), and some of the gals are told to wash their messy faces. 

Introducing …

Frat boy Adam Smith likes to sleep late, have lots of sex and beer, and roar into the camera. I’m wondering if all the flash is to make up for some deficiencies somewhere else, said the writer, glancing at his package.

The very elegant Chantelle Winnie presents and talks about her vitiligo. Tyra warns her that she will not tip tow around Chantelle because of her unique situation. 

Tall Tool Ben with the threaded eyebrows says he’s a model, actor, singer and dancer, and then demonstrates how bad he is at all those things. I’m not impressed … until he shuts up and flexes his lovely bicep as proof of being corn-fed. Then — boom — I fall over. I like me some strong arms, ladies and gentlemen. What can I say? Can I get an Amen?

Kelly, however, jumps on his face and gives him the dressing-down of the century. I cringe. My own ass is on fire from that dressing-down. I’m still cringing right now. Whew. 

Miss Lenox is sweet as a a crystalized sugar decoration on top of a cake covered in ganache. Her estranged father died two weeks ago and she’s crushed, poor kid. (Been there, done that myself.) She has a beautiful big forehead and Tyra does a little melding with her. 

Josh the dairy farmer has a liver disease and is interesting looking, say the judges.

Vinnie, er, I mean Daniel, a returning hopeful from New Yoahhhk, has some domed hair, but one of the sweetest selfies that makes me think he may be sweet — Tyra says he’s holding back. Backstage, Danny and Romeo lock horns already. At first, I thought it was a Danny problem, but later it looks like a Romeo problem. Could be interesting. Danny boy does have some nice pipes, though. And I’m a happy girl.

Romeo is a tattooed witch and could be a great sympathizer for all … or a total douche. Time will tell. 

Keith “Tyson Beckford” Carlos is an ex-NFL player for the NY Giants. He’s beautiful and seems to be nice enough. Social media has him tagged as the winner already.

Shei has four brothers, so guys don’t intimidate her. She has some rocking cheekbones, but her eyes are too small.

Denzel is both smart and fine. Tyra calls him sweet and likeable, and says he needs to learn to smize. 

Will enters in patent black high heel boots and the other guys cringe. 

Raelia is a gorgeous virgin twerker in ho makeup. Tyra makes her wash her face and she comes back a million times more beautiful. Tyra’s blown away. 

Jamie Ray shows up late like a prima donna and everyone’s jaws hit the ground. The boys want to nail her on the spot and the girls want to scratch her eyes out. And I’m wondering if this is a trick of some kind. Nope. She’s aptly described as a gorgeous porn star. Tyra makes her wash her face, causing a little princess meltdown, but all ends well as she obeys and returns to Tyra even more beautiful. 

Brandon gets in trouble right away for dissing dark-skinned women and will most likely spend the next couple of episodes kissing ass. If he doesn’t get eliminated, that is. #SmoothMoveExlax

Serbian-born Mirjana is fiercer than shite, beautiful and interesting. 

Bowling for Models and a Stinky Surprise

At a bowling alley, each model hopeful gets to bowl one frame, at the end of which they will learn if they are invited back for next week. But then Kelly drops the biggest bomb: not all 22 successful bowling models will get onto the final show. Next week will be another round of casting. Wha– that’s not exactly right because they (the 22 strikers) will all be on the show, but only 14 will continue to do all the photo shoots, call-backs, challenges, etc., and have a chance to go to Seoul, South Korea, in Tyra Banks’ 21st cycle of America’s Next Top Model.

And the 18 (sorta) winners mentioned at the end of the episode are … in the poll below! Who do you most want to move forward after the final casting episode?

America’s Next Top Model airs Mondays at 9pm on The CW.

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Catherine Cabanela

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV