First, since there really are too many to keep track of, let’s do a quick recap of the many changes we’ve already heard about, and seen in action, for America’s Next Top Model cycle 19:

1. This cycle will be the “College Edition,” with the 14 model-wannabes each coming from various higher learning institutions from across the country, and repping their schools and academic dreams as often and ardently as possible.

2. Noted fashion photographer and judge Nigel Barker, photo shoot director Jay Manuel and runway coach J. Alexander are out. *Sniff*

3. Alleged PR “maven” and definite scary ogre Kelly Cutrone remains after one cycle on the job, with male model (and Tyra’s rumored new boytoy) Rob Evans and stylist Johnny Wujek joining the ranks as new judge and photo shoot director, respectively.

4. Instead of its normal Wednesday timeslot in the fall, the CW has moved ANTM to Fridays at 8pm, starting August 24. That is an extremely early premiere date, on an extremely unfortunate day of the week. I think we all know what that means…

5. And perhaps most notably — and so ridiculously that I couldn’t help but write a perplexed treatise on its potential negative ramifications — for the first time, the show has elected to post every single cycle 19 photo shoot online, and elicit viewer votes and responses that will affect the outcome of the competition.

Well, it’s time to add a few more items to the list of things that will be different this cycle:

Covergirl and Italian Vogue have apparently pulled out of the show. Now, the winner will receive prizes including (from the CW’s latest press release) a fashion feature in Nylon Magazine, as well as $100,000 cash and campaigns with Nine West and Smashbox Cosmetics, in addition to a modeling contract with LA/NY Models and being named the face of America’s Next Top Model perfume Dream Come True.”

OK, then. And:

The show is also introducing its first-ever social media correspondent, top fashion blogger Bryanboy, who even has a handbag named after him by Marc Jacobs. Bryanboy will use his extensive knowledge of both fashion and social media to mentor the models and highlight the scores, comments and video messages from the viewers that will be revealed in the show during judging. Also lending his expertise to the show this cycle for multiple episodes will be dancer and choreographer Jonte, who will work with the models as the movement mentor. Jonte has choreographed for Beyonce and is also an international singing performer in his own right. He will be tasked with helping the women bring out their charisma in the various challenges and photos shoots.

Um, sure. All of that definitely sounds completely necessary. Not at all an over-compensation for the lack of real talent-displaying going on.

As if things weren’t confusing enough already, the show is also changing the America’s Next Top Model elimination system, but I still can’t figure out how it’s going to work. From the CW’s latest press release about cycle 19:

“The audience vote is compiled from an average of each of the viewer’s numerical online and mobile votes. These scores will be added to scores from Banks and the judges to help determine who is eliminated each week. Also, in a new twist, the girls who have already been eliminated will have the opportunity to return to the competition via votes on their photo shoot pictures, which will allow the audience the chance to save their favorite model.

Before, I worried about spoilers and useless votes. Now I can’t tell WHAT’S going on. The same twelve models have participated in the last six photo shoots that have gone up on the show’s voting website (minus one girl, Maria, who apparently pulled out of the competition for reasons we will ostensibly learn when the show airs), and it is impossible to tell which girls are actually succeeding with the judges, which have been permanently axed (if any), and which are moving forward thanks to a “save.” 

If all the girls participate in every photo shoot, does that mean all of them can be brought back into the competition at any time? Will there even be an “elimination process” anymore? Will we even get to hear Tyra utter the words “I only have one photo in my hands…” to two terrified girls per week? When an eliminated model righteously declares, “This isn’t the last you’ll see of ME,” will she actually be telling the TRUTH now? It’s unbearable to imagine.

Part of my confusion and indignation about this whole thing is that the photo shoots so far have turned these ambitious co-eds, these supposed career-minded young role models, into taxidermied animal heads, flying cheerleaders, garbage dump zombies, trashed party girls, steampunk brides of Frankenstein, and convicts. Typical shock-value stuff for ANTM, but it really does seem as if the show is mocking the girls (and us) by sticking them in these over-the-top photo shoots and folding in this knee-jerk online voting system, populated mainly by people trying so desperately to get their video or comment on TV that their votes are clearly biased toward that goal, not toward saving their “favorites” — which, again, are fairly impossible to have if you haven’t seen the show yet.

It is just SO WEIRD AND CONFUSING, I can’t get over it. Thank goodness Bryanboy will be there to sift through it all for me.

(Image courtesy of CW)

Meghan Carlson

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Meghan hails from Walla Walla, WA, the proud home of the world’s best sweet onions and Adam West, the original Batman. An avid grammarian and over-analyzer, you can usually find her thinking too hard about plot devices in favorites like The OfficeIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and How I Met Your Mother. In her spare time, Meghan enjoys drawing, shopping, trying to be funny (and often failing), and not understanding the whole Twilight thing. She’s got a BA in English and Studio Art from Whitman College, which makes her a professional arguer, daydreamer, and doodler.