On Thursday, it was announced the Tyra Banks was returning to “America’s Next Top Model” — a show she created — after a one season hiatus.
Over the show’s 23 cycles (seasons), there have been numerous judging panel and format changes, including a short-lived fan voting system, and the introduction of male models. But the one constant has been Banks; even last season when Rita Ora was host, Banks served as executive producer and appeared in the premiere and finale.
With Banks returning as host and main judge, here are some suggestions to make Cycle 24 the best one yet (and win back some of the waning ratings).
10. Keep Ashley Graham
Graham, who was a judge in Cycle 23, is an actual working model and fits the “body positivity” messaging Banks has promoted throughout the series. She’s popular and opinionated; we’re not sure Banks would share the spotlight.
9. Bring back Nigel Barker
The model turned photographer would bring back his behind-the-lens expertise to the panel (he sat on the panel for 17 seasons — longer than any other judge). He’s also very opinionated and would challenge Banks.
8. Mix up the photographers
In Banks’ last season as host (Cycle 22), Erik Asla was photographer for twelve photo shoots — nearly all of them. Perhaps it’s because Banks was busy with multiple shows and needed a local, reliable photographer. Perhaps it’s because Asla is her partner (and baby daddy). Cycle 15 featured noted fashion photographers like Matthew Rolston and Patrick Demarchelier, which would help re-legitimize “Top Model.”
7. Focus on the models
As much as every reality show tries to create drama, “ANTM” has always been most interesting when the models are in action. The more time on set, the better.
6. Cut the product placement
Cycles 21 and 22 felt like one big commercial for Tyra Beauty, Banks’ make-up line.
As a businessperson who is constantly bragging about her “degree from Harvard Business School,” trying to coin terms (see below) and hawking her own products, Banks of all people knows what it means to be a model and have a brand in 2017. She should consider keeping the show’s “contestant-as-brand” bent (models with strong traditional portfolios, social media presences, and on-camera/messaging skills), and share some of her own insights.
Too much self-promotion (i.e. Heidi Klum on “Project Runway”) feels forced and takes the focus away from the contestants.
5. Bring back the overseas trip
An overseas trip may be out of the question, given Banks’ busy shooting schedule with “ANTM” and “America’s Got Talent” (Cycle 22’s exotic destination was … Las Vegas). A trip would give the contestants exposure to international fashion markets (Rome and Seoul were former destinations). If the “Real Housewives” can manage a trip each season, “Top Model” should be able to.
4. More spiders and other creepy crawlies
Who can forget the tarantula shoot from Cycle 3? Or the snake shoot from Cycle 1? Bring back actual fashion shoots that focus on beauty, instead of say, music video challenges (in which there were TWO last season).
3. Drop the guys
Cycle 23 returned to the all-girls format (Cycles 20-22 featured male models). Since modeling is still dominated by women, an all-girls cycle would keep the competition level high (in seasons with men, it felt like the genders would only compete among themselves).
Cast models with the physical requirements to actually work (no gimmicks like only casting short models). Cycle 23’s contestants were some of the most model-esque of the series (“Australia’s Next Top Model” has strict requirements, and its winners work for many top fashion brands).
2. Limit the Tyra-isms.
As mentioned before, Banks loves to make up her own words almost as much as promoting her own products. While mastering facial expression and body movement are critical to modeling, they can be taught without the overuse of terms like “smize” and “tooch the booch.”
1. Bring back the theme song
One of Banks’ products we wish would come back is the theme song which she whispers, “Wanna Be On Top?