After 12 years and crowning 22 top (in title only) models, “America’s Next Top Model” quietly ended its run Friday night with its second male winner, deaf model Nyle Dimarco. Tyra Banks’s muse gave the world the ultimate freak-out, endless surprises and Jade. However, in its final installment, “ANTM ” failed to encapsulate its own place in pop culture history, going out with an episode rather than a celebration.
Beginning the two-part finale with four contests: Lacey, Mikey, Mamé and Nyle, the show milked the models’ roles to extreme lengths with ubiquitous off-camera commentary — which consisted of Lacey’s weight loss and purity tirades, Mikey’s mini-monologues on his destiny for prison, Mamé’s relationship drama and Nyle’s gushings on modeling and deafness. Even by the end of the first episode, it’s painfully obvious that each contestant’s uniqueness had been talked to death, leaving no words fresh enough to further the cast’s dispositions. And when models aren’t discussing themselves, topics range from explorations of narcissism to vamping of the competition’s meaning and importance.
Following the final four’s last photo shoot, a campaign for Zappos Couture, Mamé and Nyle are declared finalists, competing in the finale runway show flanked by their fellow cycle-22-ers. Mamé (semi-successfully) addressed how she cozied up with Mikey after beau, Justin, was eliminated in episode 10. This cycle’s clown, Devin, has just enough camera time to remind viewers why he wasn’t missed while the remaining almost-top models not-so-subtly support their pick for the title.
Tyra Banks — the show’s only consistent figure — was its compass as always. Surprising viewers with fashion choices (that nose ring), and charming them with her gravitas and energy, it’s only sad that her gravity to the program wasn’t expressed in screentime or fresh commentary. Too often, her lines left deliberations and feedback in the realm of any old “ANTM” rerun on Oxygen rather than than that of a true series finale.
In between the fleeting moments of tenderness between contestants and their mothers and fashion industry chic, “America’s Next Top Model” ’s final shot felt dated and left me missing Janice Dickinson more than ever.