America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks Returns to Top Model for Cycle 24: Grade the Big Premiere

Tyra Banks brought more than just a changing of the guard to Tuesday’s America’s Next Top Model premiere.

The franchise’s creator, back in the hosting seat after briefly handing the reins over to Rita Ora, abolished all previous restrictions in the competition, including the age limit. This opened the game up to a wider variety of players as Banks aims to “celebrate the beauty in all of us.”

The first round of cuts happened American Idol style, with the panel of judges — Banks, along with model Ashley Graham, Paper magazine’s Drew Elliott and celebrity stylist Law Roach — determining whether each hopeful was “next-level fierce” enough to earn a spot in the competition.

And while there were a number of sob stories in the bunch, no one evoked more emotion from the panel than Erin, a 42-year-old mother of five (and grandmother of three!) who put her modeling dreams on hold to raise her family. “Those legs are life,” the judges told Erin, before sending her through to the next round… and making her promise never to show up in that wig ever again.

The 20 remaining contestants were then whisked away to a garden estate to separate the budding hopefuls from the washed-up weeds — literally. With six models still to be cut, everyone had a brief window to prove their worth to the Powers That Be, all while dressed in “avant-garden” outfits. This was followed by a (mostly successful) runway show, which allowed Banks to see how this season’s models moved… as flower-people.

Erin, unfortunately, choked under pressure — we were all rooting for you! — which is why her photo was not on display when Banks announced the final 14 contestants. “My kids would have been so proud,” she said through tears. “If I made it, I would have told my kids they could do anything and be anybody.”

That’s when Banks dropped the first major bomb of Cycle 24: “There are 15 girls,” she revealed, handing Erin her photo and inviting her back into the house.

Your thoughts on Top Model‘s new cycle, now with 100 percent more Banks? Grade the premiere below, then drop a comment with your thoughts.