Joining Tyra on the judging panel is the returning Kelly "Cut-throat" Cutrone, model Rob Evans, blogger BryanBoy and stylist Johnny Wujek, who is responsible for Katy Perry's cream-shooting bosoms on the 'Teenage Dream' tour. Also, the fans are getting a voice! Viewers can join the panel by Skyping in and getting catty right along with the panellists. Should be fun, no? Especially considering that this is a 'college cycle', meaning all of our contestants are also students. Tyra knows all about college, being a Harvard graduate. (Except not really.)
There's no time to waste - all the contestants are arriving at the Top Model campus, but there are so many of them that it's not worth learning their names at this point. Only 13 will remain at the end of this episode, so let's not get too invested. However, we are introduced to some very enthusiastic college-goers, including Maria, a Harvard archaeology major, and Kiara, a college basketball player. There's also a nice young lady who goes to school... online. Hey, more power to you!
It's not long before Tyra arrives at the party - which, by the way, Taryn Manning is the DJ for - and she introduces the judges this season. The girls predictably go crazy for Rob, who is sure that he can "vibe" with the contestants since he's close to their age. So that's what they're calling it these days. Johnny also gets a nice reception for his Katy connection. There's also reference to the whole 'fan as judge' thing, but it's all rather odd as it's never been fully explained. What does it mean? How much of a say do fans get? How can they have a say when the show is pre-recorded? So many unanswered questions.
Maybe we'll get answers later - for now, it's time for the first walk-off and photo shoot. The girls waste no time stripping down to their bikinis and strutting their stuff poolside (as introduced by Taryn Manning... again, huh?). Kiara makes an immediate impression on Rob, who knows "what it takes" to make it in the industry - apparently something she's got. There's also 23-year-old Jessie, the pixie-cut sporting "quirky girl" this year who apparently has an "amazing" backside, according to the judges.
The walk-off has to get through so many people that there's not much chance to get to know any of them. There are some self-proclaimed former "mean girls" and each of the girls asserts in her VT that she's going to shut the competition down, that she's not afraid of anything - you know the drill.
Afterwards, they immediately head to their photo shoot. Leila is pleased when Johnny tells her during her shoot that she looks like Kristen Stewart. Destiny is complimented for her ability to not lose contact with the camera when changing poses and Brittany is slightly overconfident when she claims that she was not given much direction because she was so good on her own.
After the shoot, Tyra reveals via voiceover that the photographs of the 30 finalists were posted online following the shoot to give fans a chance to vote on which they liked best. But now it's time for the girls to meet the judges.
First up, Laura, 21, is the daughter of one of the stars of the 1970s hit show Dynasty. Rob says that he was impressed by her in the runway show, which Johnny agrees with. However, he's a bit concerned that she's come in today looking like a publicist. Her photo is seen as "almost strong", according to Tyra, before a few fan comments are read off.
Brittany steps in front of the judges next. She's apparently a major Disney fan and got accepted to some Disney college. What that has to do with modelling, I'm not sure, but whatever. Tyra says that she looks "dark" and resembles an "evil queen". Brittany squeals and then heads off.
Destiny is overwhelmed when she steps in front of the judges, as she had a tough upbringing - she was kicked out at the age of 14, ended up in a group home at 16 and even now she's struggling to find food. Rob empathises with her, saying that his trainer used to feed him and let him stay at his gym and assuring her that his difficulties made him stronger. As for her picture, Rob likes her body in it (I bet) and Tyra thinks that her face is a little blank.
Up next, it's 18-year-old Ivory, who pulls out a retainer, revealing a missing tooth which she insists will not hold her back. On to the next. There's faux-geeky Amber, whose secret talent is terrible dancing; Briana who does some awful singing; cheerleading Christin; meowing Jasmine (erm...); and online university-going Victoria. What a mix.
Unfortunately, Victoria's feelings are a bit hurt when she discovers the other girls making fun of her happy-go-lucky attitude. But no time for cattiness, there are more models to go in front of the models. Next up, Kristen Stewart lookalike Leila, who gets praise for the gap in her teeth from the judges, who also see a lot of potential in her picture.
Get ready for waterworks - 22-year-old Maria (the Harvard archaeology student) reveals her struggle with "coming out" to her friends about modelling, and how it's helped her overcome how often she was made fun of in high school and middle school... for being younger than everyone else. Her photo leaves a bit to be desired, however, as it only looks "sweet" and not supermodel-ish. Oh, dear. In any case, Darian is up next and has a lot of personality, plus some great feedback on the "great energy" she brings in her photo.
Quirky girl Jessie gets complimented on her cat dress by Johnny, who says that Katy would wear it. I guess that's what we're in for this season - lots of Katy references. But wait - drama is afoot! Kristin, backstage, tells everyone not to make her mad as she has a history of getting into fights... but she doesn't fight anymore because her face is too pretty. Ahem. She's apparently pretty popular on Facebook, Tyra reveals. I'd be surprised if she can fit out the door with such a disastrously large head.
Yvonne is up next - she must be the "plus size" model, since she looks to be about a size 8 and that's how this competition works - and she has "steady" support on Facebook. Even Rob thinks she's beautiful and Tyra calls her "fine". Kiara's past with abuse and homelessness is something that she tells the judges she celebrates as it's made her who she is. Her picture is good as well, though Tyra tells her to think less about sex and more like an athlete.
Well, it's the moment of truth. Tyra has gathered all 30 girls out in front of the Top Model "sorority house" in order to reveal which 13 girls will go forward. She also goes through the technicalities of the all-new prize package for the winner of this season, which includes a spread in Nylon magazine, becoming the face of the America's Next Top Model fragrance Dream Come True, a modelling contract with LA models and NY Model Management, campaigns with Nine West and Smashbox, and a $100,000 prize. Not bad.
But who's going forward? Let's get on with it! The first one in is "mean girl" Kristin, followed by Nastasia. Laura gets a spot, as do Allyssa, Destiny, Kiara, Leila and Darian. With only a few spots remaining, Tyra calls Maria, Jessie, Brittany, Yvonne (she of the "curves") and finally... Victoria! Well, that's an interesting group.
After Tyra reveals the final contestants, the girls run screaming into the house to discover where they'll be living for... as long as they last in the competition. The energy is high and all of the contestants are extremely excited. There's lots of "dream come true" talk, as can be expected. And that's it for this week!
America's Next Top Model airs Fridays at 8/7c on The CW