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Since we’re currently under quarantine, and people are at home desperately trying to keep themselves entertained, America’s Next Top Model has become the latest casualty of war in this current state of cancel culture. Some people who’ve been revisiting (or watching for the first time) past cycles of ANTM have taken to social media to air their frustrations over the problematic challenges and judges critiques of some of the wannabe models.

The hot button topics that’s been trending on Twitter has been #GapGate, the sixth cycle where Tyra had one model (Dani, who eventually went on to win her cycle) get her gap fixed. Also mentioned was the Seven Deadly Sins challenge where a model did a photo shoot in a graveyard the day after she learned her friend died, that one time they had white models appear in blackface, and Tyra telling an openly gay model to tone down her sexuality, while sitting in between Mr. and Miss Jay, two of the gayest judges on the show.

In a recent IG live broadcast, Jay Manuel revealed that he suffered from PTSD during cycle four, due to some of the decisions he didn’t agree with on the show. He also said if you spoke out against some of the final decisions made by production that you were automatically fired.

He reiterated that every decision made on Top Model was approved by Tyra and executive producer Ken Mok, the latter who Manuel also says knew nothing about the fashion industry. They even discussed the infamous ‘we were all rooting for you’ moment and said the unedited version of what we saw on TV was even worse.

I’ve constantly said that Top Model reflected a portion of what goes on in the fashion industry, which is about picking people a part and trying to obtain a version of beauty that doesn’t exist. While Tyra is not completely innocent in the matter, I truly believe that she was caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand gaining success as a fashion and beauty mogul all the while carrying a successful modeling series. People have a right to express their disgust for some of the challenges on the show, and believe me you I did cringe at some of the challenges and critiques. I’m just sick and tired of people looking at the past through a #metoo lens, and applying 2020 logic on something that aired on television almost two decades ago.

Also while Tyra is the face of the Top Model brand, people have to realize she has bosses as well. So when you have a network and a plethora of sponsors breathing down your neck, you have to answer to them as well. Tyra did what she had to do to keep the gravy train going, and while it’s easy to focus on the negative, let’s also remember that she pushed boundaries for plus size and trans women when other shows weren’t even giving them a platform to stand on.

As for Mr. and Miss Jay, I’m sure if they had more power on the show they would have voiced their opinions. However, let’s remember that there weren’t many queer POC on TV (reality or otherwise), so in those days I feel they did what they had to do to maintain that check and save their jobs. I’m in no way making excuses for them. I’m just trying to analyze where they’re coming from based on the information they’re sharing with us.

Now that the gag order on their contracts are up, I love that the Jay’s are spilling all the behind-the-scenes Top Model tea. I would also like if they could get Nigel Barker on the show, because I would love to hear about his experience, and the real reason he was fired. So without further adieu, grab a snack, pour yourself some piping hot tea, and get into the gig below…

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