If you have any America's Next Top Model fanatics in your life, you'll have to forgive them if they're a little grumpy today. Last night's finale of the reality modeling competition's All-Stars cycle was more than a disappointment, it was a betrayal.
After sitting through a standard finale episode—a CoverGirl shoot and an over-elaborate Goddess-themed runway show in Crete—the camera cut to judging panel. In a scripted conversation, Tyra Banks, Nigel Barker, Andre Leon Talley, and Mr. Jay told viewers that Angelea Preston had been disqualified from the competition and wouldn't be appearing for final judging. Here's what they said:
"We're back in Los Angeles on the Top Model set and we're here for a special finale that's being conducted under unusual circumstances. "
"It turns out, our production team and the network learned information from Angelea that disqualifies her from the competition. It means we're now going to do our final judging with the remaining two girls, and in the interest of fairness, the producers and the network thought it best to evaluate Allison and Lisa on their own, without the added competition of Angelea."
"You know what, guys, we wish Angelea the best in all her future endeavors."
And that was it. Final finalists Allison Harvard and Lisa D'Amato got in front of the panel in their final runway gowns and the panel chose a winner (SPOILER: they chose Lisa?!) as if the viewers had already proccessed the crazy, unprecedented scandal. The televised judging was stiff and uninspired, totally missing that wacky sparkle that makes me an ANTM obsessive. And for good reason: The CW has since admitted that they recut the final episode and re-shot the final scene after Angelea was disqualified. It's extremely likely that she was the original winner of Top Model All-Stars.
For all the abuse ANTM has heaped on its loyal fans over the years—for twelve seasons!—this was a true low point. If the show was forced to disqualify Angelea after the final judging, to revoke her title and her prizes, they could have done it without cheating their viewers. Beauty pageants revoke crowns all the time, but they don't rob us of the memories.
I demand to see the original judging!
The show hasn't explained what specifically disqualified Angelea from the modeling competition, but the users of Yahoo Answers and other crowd-sourced boards seem certain that she revealed either her own victory or the identities of the final three (a more likely consipracy theory) on her Facebook page, which would have been a breach of her contract. Fourfour's Rich disputes that theory, pointing out that ANTM takes too much pleasure in humiliating its contestants and making an example of them. Surely, Tyra & co would have jumped to shame Angelea for a moment of innocent foolishness. It would have made for pretty good TV. "I have a feeling," he writes, "that it's something that would have shamed the show far more than Angelea."
Consider my interest piqued: even if it takes twenty years, I will not stop until I get to the bottom of this.
Image courtesy of IBTimes