Top Model or Next Top Model is a fashion-themed reality television show format produced in many countries throughout the world and seen in over 120 countries producing over 200 seasons (referred to as "cycles"). The show takes the form of a modeling competition whose winners typically receive a contract with a major modeling agency and a cover shoot and fashion photo spread in a fashion magazine. The format was created by Tyra Banks for the original series, America's Next Top Model which was first aired in 2003, produced by Ken Mok's 10 by 10 Entertainment.
The following description of the show is based primarily on the American version of the series, though the format applies to the international versions as well.
Each cycle of the show consists of 8–40 episodes and begins with 9–28 contestants. In each episode one contestant is eliminated, though in some cases there may be double eliminations, multiple eliminations, or no elimination at all, based on the consensus of the judging panel. Makeovers are administered to contestants early in the cycle, usually after the first or second elimination.
Each episode usually begins with the contestants receiving training in an area concurrent with the week's theme. For example, contestants may get coached in runway walking, improvisational acting, and clothing to suit various occasions. A related challenge soon follows, such as a mock (or real) runway show or interview, where one of the models is chosen as the winner.
The winner of the challenge receives some prize, such as a contract, a night out, or an advantage at the next photo shoot. The winning contestant is sometimes permitted to share their reward with other contestants of their choosing and on some occasions, may gain immunity from elimination at the next judging. Losing the challenge can result in some minor punishment, like losing frames for the next photo shoot. It can also end in the immediate elimination of the contestant.
Each episode, which covers the events of roughly one week of real time, is usually associated with a theme in the world of modeling, such as dealing with the press in interviews, selling a commercial product, appearing in a runway show, or visiting prospective employers in "go sees".
In some franchises, the contestants will go to real-life castings. The model who is chosen will complete what is required for the casting, resulting in a leave of absence within the episode - sometimes skipping the photo shoot and other challenges - but is rewarded with immunity for booking the job.
The next segment is usually a photo shoot, which may involve beauty shots (closeup photos emphasizing the face), posing in swimwear, lingerie or other clothing, posing nude or semi-nude, posing with a male model, or posing with animals among other themes. Usually one photo shoot per cycle is replaced with a television commercial or music video shoot.
Performance in each week's photo or video shoot weighs heavily in the final judging.
The final segment of each episode involves judging by a panel of fashion industry experts. In addition to the regular judges, usually there is a special guest judge related to that week's theme. Contestants are sometimes given a final challenge in some area of modeling such as posing, runway walking, selling a product, or choosing an appropriate outfit or makeup to satisfy a given situation. Each contestant's photo or video performance is then shown and evaluated by the panel. After all the content has been evaluated, the contestants leave the room and the judges deliberate. Germany and Austria usually feature a themed runway segment in addition to the judging of the photos or videos.
The elimination process follows a rigid format, as the host reveals, one by one and in order of merit, the photos of the contestants who have not been eliminated. Each photo is given to the corresponding contestant, who is told by the host something similar to, "Congratulations. You are still in the running towards becoming [this country or region's] Next Top Model." The first-called contestant may receive additional benefits, such as having their photo displayed prominently in the contestants' living quarters or being allowed to share in the following week's challenge winnings, regardless of their performance in the challenge. The last two contestants who have not received their photos are brought forward for special critiques by the host before the final photo is revealed. The contestant who does not receive a photo is thus eliminated from the competition. Sometimes the last two contestants are both eliminated; rarely, neither is eliminated. Multiple eliminations can also take place.
In some versions of the show, contestants find out whether or not they will continue on in the competition in a completely random fashion. The contestants may be called forward in random order to find out whether or not they performed best during the week. The last two contestants are usually the worst performers. This format is followed by Denmark (cycle 4), the Netherlands (cycles 6-8) and Peru.
In other cases, the models are each called back into the elimination room after deliberation. Upon being called back, they are either eliminated on the spot, declared safe, or they are asked to wait for their results. If the latter happens, the process is repeated with the remaining pool of contestants in danger. This elimination format has been followed by several versions of the show, most notably Austria (cycles 2-7), Germany and Denmark (cycles 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6), along with two former versions; Croatia and Serbia.
Episodes typically end with the image of the eliminated models fading away from a group shot of the remaining contestants.
A trip to an international destination is typically scheduled at about two-thirds of the way through the competition, usually with five or six contestants remaining. While overseas, each episode covers roughly three to four days, totaling two weeks of filming abroad. In some international versions, contestants have traveled from two to six different countries.
Through cycles 19-21, America's Next Top Model enabled social media fans to vote for each contestant's photos online based on a scale ranging from 1 (being the worst) to 10 (being the best). Voting took place as filming progressed, so that the results could be seen when the show began to air on television. Each judge also scored each picture based on the same scale, with the total fan vote weighing the same as the vote of a judge. Furthermore, one or more eliminated contestants received the opportunity to re-enter the competition if they earned the highest overall score average over a certain period of time. The social media voting was removed beginning with cycle 22.
The social media scoring system was also implemented in the sixth and seventh cycles of Austria's Next Topmodel. In contrast to the American adaptation, each voter is required to cast their votes on the show's website with accounts that link with Facebook. Furthermore, there is no grading scale. Each Facebook account is allotted three votes, which can be spent on any combination of contestants. The contestant with the highest number of votes each round is granted immunity, while the contestant with the lowest amount is automatically nominated for elimination along with three other contestants chosen by the judges. A comeback round also takes place about two thirds into the competition.
The Top Model format has been adapted for numerous national and regional versions around the world. The latest Top Model winner is Alejandra Merlano, who won the third cycle of Colombia's Next Top Model.
^Charlotte Dawson was hosting the live final of Cycle 4 while Jodhi Meares was not present at that event.
^Panni Epres replaced Viktória Vámosi for hosting duties at the final of Cycle 1. Eventually, Vámosi was fired before the final.
^Dave Berry was hosting the live final of Cycle 6 while Macpherson was leading the judging panel.
^The series kicked off with an unclear host/head judge position at which Elizabeth Thủy Tiên was initially offered the ultimate power in judges' table and then Nathan Lee fought against her to become another male host of the worldwide Top Model franchise. They were both fired and Hà Anh was chosen as a replacement. Vũ Anh Tuấn was hosting the live final while the head judge was leading the panel.
The following table contains upcoming cycles that are confirmed to be currently in either the pre-production, casting, filming or post-production process. They are listed in alphabetical order, as their air dates remain unknown.
^Frances Bonner Personality Presenters: Television's Intermediaries With Viewers 2011 Page 131 "The Next Top Model franchise operates differently, not having had a popular vote and using as its main presenter a successful ex-model, rather than a television professional. It was created by American model Tyra Banks, who did have television acting experience, has presented all American series, and has since expanded her television work, including into the daytime talk programme The Tyra Banks Show."
^Wendy Molyneux Everything Is Wrong With You: The Modern Woman's Guide To Finding Self Confidence Through Self-Loathing - 2008 "Not content to be just a stunning supermodel with a sweet, sweet A, Tyra Banks has created a media empire based on her America's Next Top Model franchise that has been syndicated around the world. Ms. Banks also hosts a daily talk show where she frequently addresses women's selfesteem issues as related to beauty. "
^Manuel Castells Communication Power Page 1568 2009 "And, while not officially a Top Model franchise, an Afghani local TV station made headlines in the Fall of 2007 when it launched its own lowbudget take on the format."