Ah, ANTM. Tyra Banks is back as host, and y’all. I MISSED her corny-ass phrasings and her stories — I mean, last night alone, we already got “I started modeling at 15″ and a mention of her origins in church fashion shows, plus a “booty tooch” for good measure. Why did this thing ever get cancelled, CW? Although VH-1 has given it a slightly grittier, hipper life, so I’m not complaining.
I merrily lapped up the rebooted version when it premiered last year with Rita Ora hosting. The idea of Tyra merely existing behind the scenes meant it did feel like a rebirth. The judging panel of Ashley Graham, Law Roach, and Drew Elliott (from Paper) was stellar, and Rita was surprisingly charismatic as the cruise director. But there was no question that her professional heft was not quite there. She’s famous, but largely on the strength of her paparazzi presence, at least over here — which isn’t nothing, and is probably partly why the show morphed that year into saying they needed a “Boss” who could be a brand on social media and beyond. That wasn’t the wrong strategy, either, because there’s no use pretending the show’s winners have taken the world by storm. Regardless, though Rita was fine, it felt weird to have her running the joint when everyone else on the panel was so much more accomplished in the world. However, it did make the entire panel feel somewhat more democratic because I actually believed Rita would get outvoted on something by the others. They all felt like equal participants, but with one who just gave a couple more expository speeches. Whereas with Tyra, even though I know she isn’t ruling with an iron fist, her very presence as the creator and original star makes you wonder how often anyone else will take a genuine stand against the Big Boss when it comes to her baby. It’s my belief she’s open to that, but I’m really curious to see if it’ll ever happen — or need to happen — and how the chemistry will gel.