Noooooooo, I'm not ready! I mean, okay, let's do this. So, Tyra has COMPLETELY changed things up, except for the fact that we have the same judges, the same sob stories, and the same general format for everything. But there are Y chromosomes! To be honest, it actually is kind of nice. And you know how it pains me to admit that sometimes Tyra does have good ideas.
So, Tyra and co. scoured warehouses throughout the United States to find the top 35 guys and girls to participate in this groundbreaking experiment. Rob thinks the whole thing is cool. I don't know if that's exactly how I'd describe it, given that we're in CYCLE EFFING TWENTY, but okay. Because this is such a special season, Tyra shows up at an early stage of casting callbacks, just to prove that even though there are dudes the screams will be just as ear-piercing whenever she walks into a room. She makes everyone strip down to their skivvies and walk, because that's her prerogative.
The whole thing is narrowed down to 35 semi-finalists, whom Tyra calls personally to let them know they will be privileged enough to share their tragic histories and personal demons with a national audience of tens. Segregated buses of men and women are delivered to an old theater where, in separate quarters, they get some crazy ghostly hair and makeup. It turns out they are going to participate in a masquerade ball runway show, where they'll walk down the runway in pairs, rip off their masks and kiss as a way of meeting each other for the first time. In lingerie, of course. Not that this whole season is going to be a giant sexy meat market orgy or anything. A photo will be taken at the end of the runway, which will be used by the judges for casting purposes.
We meet a few early notables during the masquerade ball. There is Alaskan plumber Delten, who is here to prove that plumber cracks aren't all bad; food truck Michael, whom Tyra discovered personally when she was getting a Choco Taco one day; virgin Jeremy; transgender Virgg; married and divorced at 18 Jourdan; and androgynous-non-manly-man Cory, who emerges as an early favorite. The masquerade runway is a little Phantom-y and awkward, though some of the contestants manage to remove their masks AND plant a kiss on their partner with aplomb. Cory is a genius and is the only dude to pick another man to walk with him down the runway, and bearded free-spirit Phil, chosen by Virgg, has no problem with the fact that he now knows all there is to know about the crying game. He may get annoying, but I'm going to say for the record that, at this point at least, I freaking LOVE Phil.
On casting interview day, we get to know a little more about virgin Jeremy, meet blonde and excitable Alexandra, learn that hot Ronald from Philly is kind of a jerk, grow to love Bronx Marvin (who in turn gets to love the fact that his dad is a janitor), suspect that Tyra knew what she was doing with food truck Mike, feel bad for homeless Chris H. (whose parents moved one day without telling him), crack up at free spirit Phil (even though Kelly thinks he's too much work), hear how Cycle 11's Isis was an inspiration to Virgg, appreciate Cory even more, and scowl with the judges as burly Don from Minnesota says he likes money, women, and attention in that order. Don does manage to freestyle a rap that rhymes tooch, smooch, and hooch, which redeems him somewhat.
The contestants meet at this season's house to learn who has made it through this round of cuts. We see that Adam, Bianca, Don, Nina, Jeremy, Cory, Jiana, Alexandra, Chlea, Jourdan, Renee, Caress, Chris H., Kanani, Marvin, Phill, Mike, and Virgg have made it, and numbers-wise there must be others. They are told that they can crash in the house for the night, but are going to move on to round two of casting, where Tyra will whittle the whole thing down to the final 16. Meanwhile, we bid adieu to Anjel, who didn't make it because her legs couldn't hold up her body; Lauren from Arizona, and hot hot Ronald from Philly, who I totally thought was going to win the whole thing based on his face alone.
Previously on America's Next Top Model: No boys allowed! We had nineteen seasons of estrogen, but now things have changed. Including, I'm sad to say, the quality of Tyra's wigs. Is she coming out with her own busted wig line? Is it lower rent than Star Jones wigs? In any case…DUDES! We get several seconds of long, lingering muscle shots and hear a few guys tell us that they want to be on top. Oooooh, is that soooooo? Tyra outlines the prizes and then confirms that there will only be one winner. It will be her, if she can find a decent wig again. I feel like this is some Jay Manuel hoodoo being enacted right before our eyes.
Anyway! The Top Model team scoured warehouses throughout the country to find their top 35 semi-finalists. We see male supermodel and judge Rob Evans and photo shoot creative consultant Johnny Wujek watching people strut down a makeshift runway at a casting call in L.A. Jeremy, 19 and from Mission Viejo, CA (whose purity status will soon be unveiled) tells us that a lot of the dudes at the casting aren't "guy-guys." They're feminine, as opposed to him, who lifts weights and watches football and does not have sex with ladies. Oh, wait.
Casting boys was so epic that Tyra made a stop at callbacks in New York City. There was much screaming and hullaballoo, and she explained that she was making an appearance at this early stage because she's "so" "excited" about this XX/XY situation. I think she thinks that she invented men. The contestants strip down to their underwear and walk for Tyra, because it is her professional responsibility to watch half-naked young people. We see her ask Chris H., about whom we will learn a LOT in the coming hours, why he wants to be a model. He says that life has been hard on him, in part because his mom had him when she was fifteen. He cites an apparently well-known saying that I have never heard before -- "fall down seven times, get up eight." What if you fall an eighth time, though? What do you do then? Blonde and excitable Alexandra tells us that she got rear-ended in New York City and spent eight hours in the emergency room. That did not stop her from putting pancake on her bruises and strutting her hot bod in front of Tyra, though! Triumph of the spirit!
From the comfort of her own closet, Tyra calls the 35 semi-finalists personally to let them know they've moved on to the next stage of this charade, and we see grainy video showing their excitement. "Are you ready for the first ever guys and girls Top Model?" asks Tyra. No. No I am not. It's freaking AUGUST and I want to enjoy my FRIDAY NIGHTS. Gah.