Sometimes you just binge watch eight episodes of America’s Next Top Model and afterwards you sit there wondering what, if anything, of value that show offers.

Questionable highlights of the show:

  • One of the contestants tells us of the time her parents divorced – she lived with her dad, not her mom, she explains, so she didn’t eat properly for months, lost a lot of weight, and apparently gained a ton of self-confidence.
  • Tyra gives a roomful of pretty conventionally attractive people a speech on how she wants to celebrate all kinds of beauty by getting rid of the height and sex requirements.
  • One of the guys is downright creepy, screaming after a girl who turned him down something about how he’s slept with over 50 girls.

Questionable reasoning behind watching:

  • My best friend has watched all the cycles of ANTM so far (22 of them), and I watched this one so I could talk with her about it.
  • One of the contestants is deaf and raised in the deaf community.  I think the show has been pretty decent about giving him screentime and letting him speak for himself, and it’s been nice watching him compete – I hope he wins!  His twitter also says he’s fluid, but they haven’t mentioned that on the show.
  • One of the contestants is East Asian.  I’ve only ever watched two or three cycles but I think that’s pretty rare, so I appreciate that too.  Plus, despite all the drama the show pushes, seeing an interracial couple on TV is always nice.

It definitely doesn’t feel like any sort of “feminist” show, certainly, even though it is aimed towards a female audience (and had, for a while, all female contestants).  The industry it supports is arguably toxic in itself, so it feels hard to argue positively for the show.  It ticks off diversity boxes, often feeling like it’s purely for the sake of doing so, but at least it’s done.  It’s hard to say at all that it feels like any sort of comforting dull everyday show, or even that I actually enjoy watching it – I just like talking to my friend about it.  Is some small sense of friendship worth 40 minutes a week of awful TV?  I guess it is.  Does it make it “better” at all that I can be mildly critical of what I’m watching?  It doesn’t particularly feel like it.


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