I am a modern, well-educated woman, and I love America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). I have watched every episode of every one of the 18 cycles. I have watched it get cheesier and more ridiculous than I thought possible. Then, I saw the theatrics tone down a bit, for which I hold Andre Leon Tally responsible, because after he left the show, it got more ridiculous than ever. I used to watch the marathons on VH-1 in college, even if I had seen that episode hundreds of times. My grandma and I watched a cycle together where we rooted for a girl from my hometown. I’ve gunned for Yaya, Isis, Joanie, Annaleigh, Allison and Caridee. I watched in awe as Jade said “This is not America’s Next Top Best Friend.” I shook my head in disbelief with each weird new theatric Tyra introduced (“My models/went over/the ocean…). I cringed each time she said “Smize,” “Booty Tooch” or “Pot Ledom.” (But I secretly loved it.)
I knew I would miss ANTM while I was here in Germany, but luckily, I could watch ANTM cycle 18 online, and I could watch Heidi Klum’s Germany’s Next Topmodel! Kitschy television and cross-cultural comparison? Score!
So, is ANTM > GNTM, or is it the other way around? Here’s a rundown:
- Originality: Since GNTM was modeled after ANTM, ANTM wins this category hands-down. Point ANTM
- Host: Let’s be honest. Tyra Banks = crazy and Heidi Klum = crazy. For me, the deciding factor is the cheese factor. Heidi is not even close to being as over-the-top ridiculous as Tyra, Point GNTM
- Supporting Cast: Tyra has Nigel and the Js: Mr. Jay, the creative director, Ms. J, runway coach extraordinaire, and Nigel Barker, judge and noted fashion photographer. Heidi has Jorge and the Thomases: Thomas Rath, designer and judge, Thomas Hayo, art director (and purportedly Heidi’s new “friend”), and Jorge, the runway coach. The Thomases are enjoyable, but Jorge comes across as fake and annoying. I love Nigel and the Js. Point ANTM.
- Drama: Based solely on comparison of these two programs, one would conclude that American women are scrappy bitches, while German women are friendly and loveable. Point GNTM.
- Rules: One would expect that GNTM would take this one easily, BUT that is not the case. Sometimes Heidi sends no one home, sometimes she sends a few home. The finale had 4 models. Four?!?! Come on! Tyra sticks with the rules 98% of the time. The benefit is that when she doesn’t, it is really an exception. Point to ANTM for knowing the rules of good television.
- Real-World Experience: The ANTM models seem to exist only in ANTM world for most of each cycle. Only at the end, when the final 6 get sent abroad and do go-sees do they really seem to experience the real world of modeling. (Clearly this is something I know a lot about.) The models on GNTM spent the season in LA, New York, Milan and Germany, and went on multiple casting and go-sees. Point GNTM, for letting the viewers believe we’re seeing the “real thing.”
- Products: Here’s a category I expected the Americans to excel at with no problem. ANTM has teamed up with many companies in its history, most obviously Cover Girl cosmetics,. The show even has its own fragrance now. Imagine my surprise when I saw Germany’s Next Top Model magazine on the newsstand, GNTM albums on Spotify, and GNTM contestants on Maybelline ads. And, yes, I admit that I bought the first issue of GNTM magazine. This purchase shows both that I have impeccable taste and make good decisions when it comes to spending money. For sheer variety and number of products, GNTM takes this one. Point GNTM.
- Editing: This is a trifle unfair since, as an American, I think all German television shows are too long. Point ANTM for leaving out segments like “The Host of the Show Gets a Haircut.” Snooze.
- Finale: This is a tough category. The ANTM finale typically consists of the Cover Girl shoot and a final fashion show. The quality has arguable decreased. At the end of the most recent cycle, the models participated in a hologram fashion show for Forever 21 that was clearly a Tyra Banks production. Forever 21? Seriously? If the models aren’t wearing clothes I can’t afford, how will I know that I want to buy them? The German counterpart had a promising premise: a live show in Cologne with performances by Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, and the winner of The Voice of Germany. For the trained viewer, however, it was clear that the entire format was lifted right out of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show playbook. Maroon 5 even played the same song they performed in December 2011. Also, the appearance by Justin Bieber just seemed sad after seeing this interview about a month ago. Point goes to no one. To Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks: step it up, ladies.
It seems we have a tie. In a nod to diplomacy, I’m going to leave it as it stands. If anyone can suggest a tie-breaker, I’m all ears. Which is why I’ll never be a teen model.
Herzlichen Glückwunsch an Luisa aus Leer, die Gewinnerin 2012!