"The winners of America's Next Top Model will face their biggest challenge ever ... men," announces the trailer for the upcoming season. Just when you might have been getting bored with the modeling competition, Tyra Bank's CW hit series —entering its 20th cycle this summer — is spicing things up.
America's Next Top Model: Guys and Girls will premiere on August 2, and it will certainly be a big change from the previous 19 seasons. The cast, featuring eight male and eight female aspiring models, was revealed in February. Now, the trailer is out, and it seems like it will be a season that ANTM fans cannot afford to miss.
With girls alone, the Top Model house has always been chaotic, competitive and scandalous. Now, add eight men to the mix and the drama will certainly skyrocket. Plus, while the all-female cast commonly worked on shoots with professional male models, this season the men and women will pair up to compete in partner challenges.
"This cycle will explore the similarities and differences that male and female models face in the pursuit of their careers, bringing on experts and celebrities to mentor and challenge them each week," says the show's official website. "There will be more than a little opportunity for rivalry, flirtation and romance."
Tyra Banks has promoted diversity within her casts in the past, which have showcased girls hailing from diverse countries and representing different races, ethnic backgrounds, religions and sexual preferences. The seasons have culminated with winners from minority backgrounds, including Naima Mora, Danielle Evans, Jaslene Gonzalez and Saleisha Stowers.
Season 10 might have been the most surprising results show yet, however, when Whitney Thompson became the first plus-size model to take the competition. Throughout the season, Thompson was open about her struggles with her body image and the process by which she began to love and embrace her appearance. Her story and final success shattered many of the stereotypes that stigmatize models and the fashion industry.
But nothing that America's Next Top Model has attempted before has been as groundbreaking as adding male cast members to the mix. And quite frankly, it is surprising that it has taken 20 seasons to make the adjustment.
American culture is crippled by stereotypes that assign professions to one gender or the other; for example, a common perception of Wall Street is a field dominated by men whereas modeling is a female profession. Forming ANTM into a coed reality competition is one step in breaking this stereotype and promoting the idea that the modeling industry, like all industries, should not suffer from a gender bias.
While we should look forward to this more inclusive season, we must also be wary of the general stereotypes about the modeling industry that the reality competition may promote. For example, certain moments in the show often portray the models as dumb or vain. Now, the addition of male models may promote a whole new host of stigmas working against the competitors.
Let's hope that this new season of America's Next Top Model will offer an exciting twist without moving too far away from the format of the reality competition many know and love.