Based on the highly successful format of America’s Next Top Model franchise, Britain’s Missing Model is a six-part series selling itself on the catch-cry “Sassy, styled, chic…disabled?”
The eight contestants from the UK, Netherlands and the US range from age 19 to 27, and include a woman whose arm was severed in a bus crash, another who is profoundly deaf and an aspiring film director who suffers from a degenerative neuro-muscular disorder, which means she is largely confined to a wheelchair.
“Eight contestants live together in a fully accessible apartment, get fashion and model training from the best in the business, and fight it out for the ultimate prize…a fashion spread in one of country’s primier fashion magazines,” said the BBC website.
I’ve never even warmed to the original version. But it seems I’m always discovering another feminist, liberal, well-erudite, or male friend who watches and enjoys it–though they usually qualify it as a guilty pleasure.
One must admit this show sounds, on the face of it, only marginally worse than some Fox reality shows. (Anyone else remember The Littlest Groom?)
However, if done right, the show could sincerely challenge its viewers to reconsider ablism and aesthetics, it could be worth it.
“If done right” being a big if. The promo material isn’t promising. The title “Missing Model” misleads and condescends; most persons with disability come to adapt to their condition, and cease to feel something is “missing.” The teaser video is wholly dependent on shocking “reveals.” But if the show is better than the sum of its publicity, shock could draw people into something meaningful and consciousness expanding. In spite of the producers’ best efforts, the stars’ humanity might shine through.