Tyra Banks is trending on Twitter, again. Like clockwork, users on the site have logged on to criticize the retired supermodel for her role in creating the outrageous challenges and obstacles hopeful models faced on her former hit show America’s Next Top Model.
In a post from last night, now with over 81,000 likes and 18,000 retweets, a Twitter user posted a tweet that read “tyra had them doing obstacle courses.” An accompanying clip grabbed from TikTok showed ANTM contestants trying to avoid huge swinging pendulums while walking down a runway during a fashion show. One model, in particular, fell down twice in the video, once when coming down the stairs before reaching the runway, and a second time after posing at the end of the catwalk where she was hit by one of the monstrous devices. The caption on the TikTok video read “excuse me HOW DOES THIS SHOW EXIST.”
In the replies of the tweet, people were sharing how they felt about the chaotic challenge in the video, but also other crazy and often questionable things they remember from the former CW hit show. Between being responsible for disastrous makeovers, risking the safety of her contestants, and regularly piercing the aspiring models’ self esteems in the name of “tough love,” Twitter users were aiming the brunt of the backlash at Tyra.
Speaking on the host, one user said, “She woke up every morning and chose chaos for this show.” Another, referencing the challenge seen in the clip, said, “Fun fact: they had to do this runway twice because nobody fell the first time. Molly said the second time around they saw producers spraying the runway with Pam to purposely make them fall.”
At this point, we all know ANTM was a problematic show, especially when dissected in today’s climate. The question that seemingly isn’t being asked is was the show “problematic” back then? We have to ask that in the same context of the word that we’re familiar with now. If it was, then why were so many of us tuning in every season to watch it? Why were we watching it with our daughters, our mothers, and our girlfriends, viewing it and judging the models on their performances in the ridiculous challenges right along with Tyra?
Clearly, none of us as one-time viewers were perfect either.
It’s a strange paradox that users condemn Tyra for how problematic the show was, but then continuously make the show relevant now and increase its popularity by dragging her to the point where she’s trending every few months for it. Granted, the series is now available on Netflix, but the last time the show actually aired was in 2018, so what’s the point of the ongoing critiques? What changes can be made now?
This isn’t the first time she’s been called out for what went down on the show, and Tyra’s even made an effort to address the part she played in the madness. If ANTM were to come out today, it’s probably safe to say that none of the white contestants would be painted Black, nor would any of the models be getting their heads shaved for a “model makeover” just to be sent home the following week. As the times change, so do our behaviors. Even though it’s easy to call out how conniving and cutthroat ANTM was, in reality, isn’t that what we enjoyed most about reality TV in the 2000s-2010s anyway?