The unstoppable machine that is America’s Next Top Model began its 14th Cycle last week (it is not a season!). I’m not ashamed to admit that ANTM is my favorite of the reality competition shows. Why? Because it stands up to repeat viewings; I’ve wasted many a Saturday afternoon buried in marathons on Oxygen and now Bravo (Bravo, how far you’ve fallen! Remember the days of constant Inside the Actors Studio and I, Claudius?). In any event, Tyra and Co., never ones to let their franchise go stale, pulled out a stop that promises to make this Cycle the most delicious yet.

Last week’s casting saw Tyra and the Jays struggle to choose 14 lucky girls to compete for the prestigious title. And despite the girls whose names were not called, leaving them drowning in their tears, the gang could only select 12. What to do? Hold a separate audition and introduce the girl to her fellow competitors right before their makeovers (but why not two?)! Side note: Tyra making the girls over so quickly, as opposed to waiting until the third or fourth week as in Cycles past, all but guarantees a few girls sent home with short hairdos their boyfriends are bound to hate. Perfect!

But more to the point, I am very excited about the “Ren factor.” Let’s face it; ANTM roommates are rarely all smiles and hugs. But to set up one girl, “free spirit” Ren, as the enemy from the get-go is an inspired touch. Does it make me a horrible person to want the other 12 to sabotage her instantly? Or maybe a few of the girls will latch on to Ren out of the belief that she’s Tyra’s plant sent to teach the rest of them how it’s done (okay, that probably won’t happen, but still…).

Right now the girls are in the midst of their first photo shoot. Nude! Ren is rocking it (the others are already contemplating putting glass in her mouthwash). Gabrielle is bombing as is Alasia. This… wait! They’re already heading to panel? It’s not even 8:30! And the show is 90 minutes long! I smell two eliminations tonight! Oh, ANTM! I’ll never leave you!


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