Why We Want These ANTM Icons Back

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.
We already know that Tyra Banks is making a triumphant return to America’s Next Top Model for the upcoming 24th cycle. It was some welcome, great news for longtime fans of the show — Rita Ora imma let you finish but… something is still missing. And I couldn't find it in myself to ignore a certain ache in my heart. Obviously, Tyra was the face of ANTM for years, but it was her panel of judges who were the heartbeat of the show. Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel, and most importantly, Miss J. Alexander, played a huge role in defining the spirit of ANTM. And we want them back! If recent teaser images from Instagram are to be believed, we might see our wish granted for the upcoming cycle.
Barker and Alexander posted a picture of the three of them crossing a New York City intersection together, as Entertainment Weekly reports. Manuel uploaded a snap of the three former judges sitting around a laptop with a caption that included “the family is back together.” I’m already so excited that I can barely think straight.
For Barker, Manual, and Alexander, ANTM marked their transition from fashion royalty to pop culture icons. Sure, we’ll always remember Tyra’s infamous “we were all rooting for you” rant. But what about about Manuel’s endless stream of shady moments? And Miss J.’s priceless facial reactions? I use this one at least once a week in personal correspondence. Barker was the level-headed Englishman who rounded out the trio, and his ANTM photo portfolio alone is Pulitzer-worthy. These three spent way more time with the contestants than Tyra did. It’s their one-liners and responses to contestants that really drove the show.
Not to mention the fact that the diversity in terms of race, sexuality, and gender with this panel is on point. This is the stuff that great television is made of. Pop culture has really been banking on nostalgia lately, and that’s certainly a selling point for the return of these OGs. But this trio could still bring something fresh to a television landscape that is still struggling with diversity.

#? Yup this happened...the family is back together! @miss_jalexander @nigelbarker @mrjaymanuel #CanYouGuess?

A post shared by Jay Manuel (@mrjaymanuel) on

And consider this: ANTM debuted and reached its peak in a pre-meme era. We didn’t have have the magical forces at Giphy to perfectly capture their best reactions on a continuous loop. Just imagine all of the possibilities with this quadruple threat in 2017. So, VH1, please make America‘s Next Top Model great again, and make my dreams come true.

More from TV

R29 Original Series