Asia’s Next Top Model has successfully wrapped up another cycle. I can’t believe it’s been four cycles already. I can still remember my first AsNTM post in my blog (then on Tumblr). I’ve recapped every episode (and reviewed some of them), but now it’s time to take a look back at what the show did great and what we, the fans, think need to be cut and made-over. Below are some of my literal reactions to the recently concluded Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 4.
1. Diversity! (sort of)
This (I think) is the most diverse cast of AsNTM so far. It’s the first time we had Mongolia and Myanmar on the show, and I hope they continue sending reps in future cycles.
This would’ve been the best cast save for the notable lack of South Asian representatives. We’ve had India and even Nepal on the show before; where have they gone? I hope the show can invite more countries next cycle as I’m sure there’s untapped model potential in them. Plus Japan is missing this year. What’s up with that?
Oh and may I request that next cycle we go with max 1 representative per country? That would be great. Because three representatives for one country is a bit overkill.
2. Best opening titles ever! 👐
It’s so fashion! Everywhere is a runway for the top model, and this opening titles video shows it. At least this cycle’s song is a bit more original than last year’s Chandelier sound-alike. It has a cohesive concept and the girls have more screentime. (Tyra could learn a thing or two.) Gwen had the least screentime though.
But no one had less screentime than poor Maya! She didn’t even make it to the opening titles. (Thanks to the readers for pointing this out.) That’s so mean!
3. OH. MY. G. D-R-A-M-A! 💥
Last cycle seemed boring because it lacked the drama of Cycle 2. (Oh that cycle had a lot of fights! Such great reality television moments.) Well this cycle’s writers seem to have done their homework, probably by watching a bunch of reality television shows (and maybe a bit of UnREAL). The editing is also much improved this cycle. For the most part I think they succeeded.
You could really tell that the AsNTM team tried to bring the drama. In the earlier episodes we already got a tidal wave of it: the shock elimination in the first episode, Jessica’s injury with Gwen’s accusing of her faking it, Sang In’s appearance after staying home sick, just to name a few. And then we eventually find out that this group of girls are some of the closest and friendliest on this show so far off-cam. So, bye drama… for now!
Then the writers focused the drama more on the judges and guests. Some worked and some fizzled fast. Angie talking back at Yu Tsai? Well the two of them made up immediately… over the commercial break. Someone else crying and almost quitting over a photo shoot? After the break, she’s already back in the game. Like seriously?!
One dramatic turn that worked though was Episode 4. Oh boy, that was a rollercoaster ride of an episode. I dare say one of the best episodes of all AsNTM cycles. Who could forget that watercooler moment when Subaru head Glenn Tan blew up during deliberation at Sang In. Those at the panel and those of us watching at home, had our jaws dropped and minds blown. And loyal AsNTM fans had a lot to say about that scene.
And then later in the episode even more elimination D-R-A-M-A! It’s a double elimination! But then someone else (Alaiza) decides to leave the competition. While watching that episode I was all “WTF” at everything that happened. Filipino AsNTM fans had it even worse in the drama department, as two of their reps left in one episode. It’s like Miss Universe 2015 all over again!
Speaking of drama, one character had it in spades. Do you know who it is, models, models, models?
4. Yu Tsai, Yu Tsai, Yu Tsai
(Stop making “Models, models, models!” happen) 🙊
Before I continue, can we please, for the love of all that is good and holy, and if Yu Tsai is back next cycle, stop with the “Models, models, models”/”Yu Tsai, Yu Tsai, Yu Tsai”? This will be the last time I see or hear it. Pretty please? Thanks in advance AsNTM staff! 🙂
Anyway. I was super excited about the news that Yu Tsai from America’s Next Top Model was joining the cast of Asia’s Next Top Model. I even tweeted my excitement and he liked my tweet. Fangirl moment! Hahaha. And then the first episode came and he’s not there… Next episode, still not there. So I started doubting if he ever was a regular cast of this show or if he’d just be a guest on the show.
And then Episode 4 came! That entrance! 👐 Finally! He’s been known to bring a lot of drama on America’s Next Top Model, and he did not disappoint with the drama level on AsNTM. I think Asia was not ready for the Yu Tsai brand. Even the girls were scared of him. (TBH I was too at times, but I still love ya!)
Oh, and we probably have to thank him too for that Ms. J appearance in the finale episode. 💋
5. Where the heck is Kelly? And ooh, there’s Daniel Boey.
Kelly Tandiono was this cycle’s model mentor but… we didn’t really see a lot of her mentoring? We saw a lot of her in the earlier episodes and then she just kinda went MIA for a few episodes. Then she’s back one episode. And then the next she’s gone again. She was probably busy with some other commitments during this cycle’s shooting. Personally, I felt Cindy filled in the role of model mentor just as well.
Speaking of filling in, Daniel Boey was back to fill in some of the episodes where Kelly should have been! This is his first appearance since Cycle 1. He didn’t appear in the second and third cycle due to some issues. (Half of his agreed wages still isn’t paid from last time. Fortunately, it’s a different production team this cycle.) You may remember him scolding Trang for not bringing tampons. I give AsNTM4 plus points for getting him back as he really adds fashion cred to the panel!
6. Werk that panel fashion! 👗👠👓
Have you noticed that the girls had a fashion theme each week at panel? I love it! My personal favorite is the pastel week. My TV looked like it’s barfing pastel. Check out some of the panel fashion in the gallery below:
(Special props also go to that tres, tres chic stage design! Kudos to this cycle’s production design team!)
7. Where’s the deliberation? 👀
Have you also noticed that we don’t get to see the judges reviewing the girls’ photos then fighting over who gets top score and who goes home anymore? This is the first cycle of AsNTM where we’re not seeing that. I’m sure that it’s in the interest of time (the episode should be an hour long, of course), but it’s something I missed this cycle. I love hearing the judges’ thought process on the girls’ photos and seeing if it matches my and other fans’ opinions. It’s not enough that we only see (barely, it flashes so fast on screen) the girls’ scores.
During the finale we didn’t even get an in-depth deliberation of the girls’ performances. We only get praise after praise of how far the girls have come from when they began AsNTM. That’s nice to hear but the competition isn’t over yet at that point. In fact, the judges have been saying that this is just the beginning of their career. It would’ve been a great learning experience for the models if they pointed out things that the girls can improve now that they’ve dipped their toes and are ready to plunge into the world of modelling.
8. Really? That was her best photo? Really?! 😒
Watching the behind-the-scenes of each photo shoot, as the audience, we see the models do poses that make us ooh and ahh that don’t really make the cut as “best shot”. I guess only the photographer will know if the picture is great. We will just forever wonder: “Was that really her best shot?” The worst offender I could remember this cycle is Tugs’ photo for the trampoline shoot. I mean, seriously, who picked that photo? Tugs summed it up quite well:
9. Singapore again? 🚧
This is the third cycle held in Singapore. I think I’ve seen enough of Universal Studios and Sentosa itself. I’ve been there twice in real life. But having seen it too many times on this show I feel like I’ve been there my whole life! What I liked in Cycle 2 is that we had a variety of settings: the beach, the car factory, the caves, etc. For last cycle and this cycle, we got a lot of interior studio shoots and shoots where the backdrop is the Singapore cityscape. That gets old pretty quick.
Singapore is a pretty small country and I personally think the show has exhausted all of the possible locations they can shoot in. (They’ve even done a shoot inside a freakin’ mall!) Maybe they can consider moving to another city or country next cycle? How about Bangkok? Or even Hong Kong? (I won’t suggest Manila because the traffic is still horrible these days. Seriously.)
And I know AsNTM isn’t really known for bringing the models to an international destination like the other Top Model franchises, but could the show please allot a portion of their budget on it next cycle? It doesn’t have to be out of the continent. If the budget permits it, how about the girls travel to London so they could get to visit Storm Models’ office there and see where they could potentially begin their international modelling career?
10. I ❤ Cindy!
Honestly, I didn’t know who Cindy Bishop was until AsNTM4. However, comparing Nadya, Georgina and Cindy. Cindy may be the best AsNTM host yet by a hair. She comes across as friendly with the girls but with the right amount of strictness. She is credible, at least for me, when she gives her comments and constructive criticism. Although, she had her fair amount of controversy when she asked Alaiza if she wanted to stay in the competition, I still ❤ Cindy.
11. A sponsored photo shoot? Again? 💸
I don’t think there was a memorable photo shoot this cycle. I mean if I’m forced to pick one, it would probably be the Subaru photo shoot. SEE! I don’t even remember the photo shoot themes anymore because I only recall them by who sponsored that specific shoot. The Subaru photo/video shoot. The CloseUp Diamond Attraction photo shoot. The ZALORA photo shoot.
I know that this is an expensive production and bills need to be paid, but did we really have to be bombarded with product placement and sponsored content every episode? Even the opening titles had TRESemmé stamped all over it.
Not to mention, some of the photo shoot briefs this cycle were super vague, usually a string of buzzwords, which they expected the girls and us to understand completely. The “it girl” theme for the Maybelline NY shoot, and the Harper’s Bazaar SG cover shoot come to mind. Like, how do you even interpret a description as vague as “fashion” or “Asia”? And then the judges expect the girls to follow the brief to a tee?! SMH.
I also noticed that this cycle seems to have had a lot more physical challenges. I often wondered in my recaps if these were left over from Fit For Fashion. I know the girls need to be physically fit, but I don’t think they needed to focus too much on that. How about their runway skills? We only had three of that type of challenge this cycle I believe.
12. Asians are SO talented!
This cycle featured a lot of Asian talents from photographers, designers, stylists and actors. And did you see the finale? WOW! The dresses, the runway, the styling and the models… ALL ARE AMAZING! This is the value of having an Asian Top Model franchise. There’s a venue to showcase Asian talents to other Asian nations. We’re familiar with designers from Paris, photographers from London, but we’re not that aware of the talent our neighboring Asian countries has in store.
Also… Asian men are hot! 🔥🔥🔥 JK! This cycle our jaws dropped for Tom Rodriguez from the Philippines and Mike Lewis from Indonesia. Even the delivery men are hot! Cycle 5, we’re waiting… HAHA. 😉
On a serious note, the AsNTM franchise (flaws and all) is a testament that Asia can produce a show that’s world-class and can unite all Asians to (most of the time) intelligently argue the next day. How about a Project Runway franchise? Pretty please.
BONUS: AsNTM Boys and Girls? 👫
Is the show ready? Or is Asia ready? I am sure as hell ready! And that would sure drive up viewership (if you know what I mean 😛).
No further questions, your honor.
Overall, Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle 4 is a definite improvement from last cycle. It had the right balance of reality and drama—we’re constantly reminded that we’re witnessing the girls’ dreams to become Asia’s next top model but at the same time giving us drama and entertainment. Now that’s great TV viewing! It still has its boring moments, but I believe it can be worked out before next cycle.
What they need to work on though is their issue with the spoilers. Personally spoilers don’t spoil my enjoyment of watching the show, but I’m pretty sure it would ruin someone else’s. I don’t know how they could solve that problem aside from locking down all social media accounts of all those involved in production, including the girls. Honestly, I don’t know. So good luck for spoilers next cycle, AsNTM staff! 😅
What are your thoughts for this latest cycle of Asia’s Next Top Model? What are you looking forward to for Cycle 5? Sound off in the comments below.