Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Definitive Ranking of the Cycles of America's Next Top Model

In conjunction with a video posted on my YouTube channel today, I'm going to be ranking the first 22 cycles of America's Next Top Model. I'll embed the video down below if you'd prefer to hear me explain my rankings, but I definitely go a bit more in depth into my feelings in this post.

My rankings are based on several different factors, which will be described as I talk about each cycle, but the main points are personal enjoyment, quality of the models, quality of the photoshoots, and quality of the drama (AKA fun & interesting vs mean drama).

Per usual, these are just my personal opinions. I'm aware of the fan favorite seasons & I honestly couldn't care less about which ones people love and which ones people don't. These are just my personal opinions- you have yours, I have mine, and we can all get along without yelling at each other or berating each other for disagreeing.

22) Cycle 20

I think most people were pretty excited about getting a season with both male and female models, but then we got... cycle 20. There were very few likable people this cycle. I personally liked Nina, and I think that the entirety of the fandom loved Cory, but other than that we had.... Mike? For the eye candy? But seriously though, because it was the first mixed-gender season, there was such an emphasis on showmances, and the people in them were utterly unbearable. Marvin was painful. I personally kinda liked Phil (I like the rocker guys) but pretty much all the guys on this season were unbearable. And so were the girls. Also, Cory didn't win. So just a fail all around.

21) Cycle 2

I know that there are people who really like this season, but this season has always been pretty forgettable for me. There are certainly standout moments, but every season has those. That being said, we do get the iconic moment of Shandi's phone call with her boyfriend as well as Camille's famous "This is my signature walk, and this is is the walk that's going to make me famous" quote. I mean, I guess it kinda rang true. We also got a pretty strong winner in Yoanna. But apart from those things... what??? Nothing more than the petty drama we see every other season.

20) Cycle 19

Ugh. This was the cycle where the horrid scoring system was introduced. We'll get to the fatal flaw of the scoring system a bit further down the line, but I think that we all agree that it was awful. On top of this, the judges panel wasn't so great this season. My 3 favorite people on the show (Mr. Jay, Miss J, and Nigel Barker) got the axe for some unknown reason...? Maybe they were too reasonable for Tyra or something. I actually kinda like Kelly, but I wasn't a huge fan of Bryanboy or Rob Evans. Some of the contestants were also pretty unbearable as well. The best part of the season was Victoria and her quirks, but even then she was one of those love/hate characters. It was just a messy season all around.

19) Cycle 3

I know that cycle 3 is a fan-favorite, but I don't like it quite so much and it's not very memorable for me. I think it was that I found most of the models pretty unlikable. Yaya was a strong model, Toccara was great, and Norelle was fun, but otherwise I disliked most of the cast. The only real standout moments for me were the brownie mutilation and fact that Amanda was going blind.

18) Cycle 22

This season was... alright. The scoring system... ugh. The best part about the season was some of the models. Nyle and Lacey were super likable. I personally really liked Devin, and Mikey was entertaining to watch despite some of his shortcomings in the personality department. And then there were entertaining characters like Bello. But other than that, not much really stands out to me about this season. The only real standout moment is the music video challenge, which was simultaneously the most ridiculous and the most fun thing ANTM has ever done. While working on this post and the accompanying video, I re-looked up the video and it's still so silly and the song got stuck in my head despite the fact that it's pretty crap. I guess you win, Tyra.

17) Cycle 1

Ah, the cycle that started it all. Competition-wise, this is definitely the weakest season. The format was still really finding its footing. The judging always seemed a bit wonky, the call-outs weren't quite streamlined yet, and they were still trying to figure out what needed to be included in the show and what didn't. I see this as a fun quirk to the first season, but it also gives it a slightly unpolished feel. Like, we regularly saw the contestants with a personal trainer, and for some reason, loved ones were able to just come over and visit? That was the weirdest thing to me-- I guess they hadn't fully nailed down the isolation thing yet. There were some really interesting controversies like the Christians vs Ebony and Elyse and the nude photoshoot, and I like the season a lot better than some of the earlier seasons but entertainment-wise, I don't think it quite stacks up to some of the later seasons.

16) Cycle 21

This is definitely my favorite iteration of the guys and girls cycles. The contestants this season were the most memorable guys/girls cast and oh boy do I love Will a whole lot, and he was the instigator for some really important discussions about gender between the contestants. That being said, I still absolutely hate the scoring system, and I think that this season has the perfect example for why it's so terrible. One episode, Tyra decides to give Lenox a score of a 1, simply because she was disappointed, and Lennox would've been eliminated without Tyra deciding to do a non-elim. Perfect example of how flawed this system is. Any judge can completely tank any contestant at any time for any reason. Not cool.

15) Cycle 15

This was a perfectly fine season of ANTM. I enjoyed that it was the high fashion season, and I thought that as it got closer to the end, we ended up with some really strong models. But, if anyone said that they were even vaguely unsure of who would win from like episode 3, I'd be shocked. There were some fun moments along the way, and some really awesome photoshoots like the one where they models had to pose as designers, but the outcome was obvious from the beginning.

14) Cycle 4

The infamous season where Tyra screamed at Tiffany. Obviously, that's the most famous moment in the history of Top Model. This was also the season of the horrifying flesh eating disease, the one where a model fainted in the middle of judging, and where Kahlen did a photoshoot in a coffin immediately after her friend's death. And there were some really strong models, namely Kahlen and Naima. Plus some strong personalities, like Tiffany and Brandy. That being said, I think that I personally didn't connect with this season as much as with other seasons. There's certainly nothing wrong with this season, I just like a lot of cycles much better.

13) Cycle 13

There are a lot of things that I enjoyed about this season. I absolutely loved Erin. She was both a fun character and a really great model. In fact, I really liked a lot of the models. Nicole, Laura, Jennifer, Sundai, Brittany, and Rae were all people who I enjoyed. And I thought that Bianca was also a really fun character when she was on. But this season was pretty marred by the cattiness of people like Ashley and Lulu, and apart from that there weren't really any stand-out moments that make the season distinct. I can remember a lot of the photoshoots, but the only moments that I remember that weren't directly challenge-related were people getting mad at Erin about the race & general cattiness but no specific moments. Sometimes the themes that Tyra does can be a bit forced, and that's how I feel about the petite theme. She just drove it into the freakin' ground and that got a bit tiring.

12) Cycle 14

This is one of the cycles where I re-watch the beginning frequently, but have only seen the end of the season once because there are a lot of great aspects of the season, but the negatives tend to get in the way. There are a lot of interesting, dynamic things happening at the beginning of the cycle, but once it gets to the middle, there are just so many mean, catty people fighting that it can bring the mood down quite a lot. It was almost like Big Brother- two different sides of the house developed, and they just kept lashing out at each other. Raina is definitely one of my favorite models in the history of the show, but apart from her there was just a lot of negativity on the cycle.

11) Cycle 6

OK, hear me out. I know that this is a major fan-favorite cycle. But this was one of the last cycles I watched, and because of that it's not quite as memorable for me. I think that there were some really awesome models on cycle 6. The final 2 of Danielle and Joanie was incredibly strong. There were also some really stand-out moments, like the high heels challenge, the racism controversy, and everything dealing with Jade and Furonda.  We're at the point here where I don't really have a problem with any of these cycles, I just personally liked some of them more than others. That being said, Gina drove me absolutely crazy. If I had to put up with her for a single episode longer, I might've screamed.

10) Cycle 9

This was one of the first cycles that I watched, and there were a lot of really dynamic things about the cycle that I loved, and I found myself watching the entire marathon all day long. Ebony quitting was one of the major moments, and Bianca was just such a major character, as was Heather. I personally really liked Jenah and Chantal and wish that one of them would've won over Saleisha. Speaking of Saleisha, her win was super controversial because on top of the fact that she already knew Tyra, she was technically breaking one of the competition's rules by having prior national modeling experience. That being said, I don't think that her win ruins a cycle that was otherwise really interesting with some really great models and dramatic events.

9) Cycle 16

This was the first cycle that I watched as it was airing. I absolutely love the top four of this cycle. I thought that the best four models definitely made it to the end of the cycle. Brittani and Molly were total stand-outs for me throughout the season, so I was really glad to see them as the final two. I thought that some of the concepts for the photoshoots this season were really cool and I really enjoyed Alexandria as a villain. This season produced several models that I thought were really strong, but there were also a handful that I definitely wasn't impressed by, like Monique.

7) Cycle 12

Ah, the cycle that Allison lost. Which is basically all that anyone cares about in this cycle. Cycle 12 holds a special place in my heart as the first cycle that I ever watched. I found a marathon of the cycle on one day and ended up sitting down and watching it almost the entire day. Allison, Fo, and Celia are still two of my absolute favorite models in the history of the show. It might not be the most dynamic season of the competition, but it's one of the most memorable for me. The moment with Celia in judging is a big standout moment, as well as all of the drama caused by both Sandra and Natalie. Overall, it's a season that I personally really enjoy, despite my firm belief that although Teyona was great, Allison absolutely deserved the win.

8) Cycle 11

This cycle was a really strong group of models. There were certainly some unlikable or weak people at the beginning of the cycle, like Clark or Hannah, but even the entirety of the final 8 were all really strong. Not only was it a really strong group of models, but they were also really interesting personalities and backstories. Almost all of them had something really unique going on. It just made for a season with interesting personalities and really great modelling. And of course, those personalities also often clashed which caused really interesting drama. This was just a super strong season all around, and I have a lot of favorites from the cycle.

6) Cycle 17

I feel like most people have a slightly lower opinion on All-Stars, but I enjoyed the season overall. I liked seeing the interactions between some of my favorite (or least favorite) models from seasons past and seeing how well all of these incredibly strong models did when compared to some of the best models in the history of the show. The ending of this season was super weird, and I think we're all still really disappointed that we have never gotten an Allison win. The music video challenge is one that still stands out to me, as well as the Michael Jackson photoshoot. Overall, I just really enjoyed this season despite the fact that the worst phrase on the planet, "pot ledom" was coined this season. Seriously, burn the phrase and bury the ashes.

5) Cycle 10

While the winner of this season is one of the worst, most disappointing winners, this is a season that really stands out to me. To start it off, Lauren is one of my favorite models in the history of the show, and I also absolutely loved Anya. This season, we get some moments that really stand out to me-- everything surrounding Allison is incredibly memorable. Plus, there's also Kimberly's quit. I really enjoyed the music-themed photoshoot and the paint photoshoot, and the commercial abroad is another standout (mostly because of how horrible everyone did). Plus, the makeovers were really great this cycle. Just overall, there were some really great models and some really cool photoshoots. It's just really unfortunate that Whitney was the eventual winner, because at the very least, Anya deserved it more.

4) Cycle 5

OK, now we're getting down to the nitty gritty. These top four are far and away above the other cycles, and we're starting at number 4 with cycle 5. This cycle has it all-- great models with interesting personalities, and drama, drama, drama. Cassandra and her hair debacle has become one of the most infamous moments in the history of the show, as is everything to do with Kim and her relationship with Sarah. Plus, there was the Red Bull/Granola bar controversy near the end of the cycle. And the models were so good too! The final two were both super strong models. Lisa ended up coming back and winning All-Stars. And then of course, there's Kim, who's one of my all-time favorites on the show. This was just overall a really stacked cycle.

3) Cycle 8

Once again, this is a cycle that ticks the box in every category. I think the biggest standouts for me are the models themselves. Not only was it a really entertaining group of models, but they were, on the whole, really strong as well. Jaslene was amazing right out of the gate, killing it pretty much the entire season. Jael was another stand-out for me, because her personality really popped. There were some really major moments this cycle, such as Jael getting pushed into the pool by 50 Cent, Brittany's meltdown after go-sees, Natasha's weird phone call with her husband, the death of Jael's friend, and many more. There was just a lot of stuff that went down this cycle. And on top of that, the photoshoots were, for me, some of the best in Top Model history. Starting with the first photoshoot after casting, those first 8ish photoshoots are some of my favorites in the history of the show. My personal favorite is probably the gender-swap because Raven (a drag queen from RuPaul's Drag Race) was in the photoshoot, but the crime scene photoshoot is another one that was really awesome. Overall, this cycle was just the total package.

2) Cycle 18

Part of me thinks that I'm just biased because I love all things British, but this cycle is a real standout. First off, I love the makeovers this season. I think that Tyra got a little too hokey with the USA theme, but she went for funky colors like Sophie's pink hair, gave Laura the always-flawless ice blonde hair, shaved Alisha on one side, and gave Catherine some absolutely phenomenal magenta hair. And that's just a few of them. They were all fantastic. And there were some really great models this cycle. Azmarie is still one of my absolute favorite contestants, and I'm still mad at her idiotic elimination. Apart from Azmarie, we also had people like Laura and Sophie who were my other two favorites. But people like Alisha, Annaliese, Catherine, and Eboni were also really fantastic. There were also great challenges, the stand-out being the music video, where the British girls absolutely destroyed the Americans. And we got the now-infamous moment of Louise storming out of judging because she was mad at Kelly Cutrone. This was just a really stacked season, and it's definitely up there as one of my favorites.

1) Cycle 7

And here it is, my favorite cycle. Cycle 7. It's just a really awesome, iconic cycle. The models this season are some of the most memorable. Caridee and Melrose make up one of the strongest final 2 pairings in the history of the show. We also got really stand-out people like Anchal and the twins Michelle and Amanda. Monique was one of the weirdest, most out-there villains in the history of the show. And she gave us some great moments, like hogging the phone for hours and messing with Melrose. It was just really weird. And we also got some really cool photoshoots this season. The circus characters and celebrity impersonation photoshoots are still two of my absolute favorites. Overall, this is just definitely one of the most memorable cycles for me, and I've watched it over and over and over again at this point and it never gets old.

So, those are my rankings of cycles 1-22 of America's Next Top Model! As you can tell, I have way too much free time. I also really love reality TV and listing/ranking things, so peruse my blog for some other reality TV rankings, like my Project Runway designer rankings and my rankings of everything related to The Genius. More reality TV rankings to come, I promise!

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