As Asia’s Next Top Model (AsNTM) Cycle 5 sashays to its end on June 28, Malaysian viewers are waiting with bated breath.
Will homegrown contestant Shikin Gomez – who is part of the remaining three finalists – walk away with the coveted title?
The last time a Malaysian got this close to the top was Sheena Liam in S2, and as we all know, she triumphed.
This time around, Shikin faces stiff competition from the Philippines’ Maureen Wroblewitz and Vietnam’s Minh Tu Nguyen (better known as Tu).
On the show’s official website (asntm.com), Shikin describes herself as a woman of the new age, unapologetically pursuing modelling despite coming from a traditional family.
Throughout the season, the 24-year-old is consistently praised for her professionalism. But the judges keep describing her as a somewhat incomplete package, i.e. a puzzle that’s missing a piece.
Touted as “The Teenage Dream”, 18-year-old Maureen is the youngest participant. But at 168cm, she is also the shortest. Will her lack of height be a disadvantage, when compared to her taller counterparts? (Shikin and Tu are 177cm and 178cm tall, respectively).
From day one, Maureen has been fighting for her place in the reality TV show, being tagged as “pretty face with no skills” by other contestants.
The soft-spoken Maureen is backed by passionate fans in her native country; just check out AsNTM’s Facebook page to see their outpouring of comments.
No doubt they’re hoping Maureen will be the first ever Filipino to win this competition. (In the first three seasons, Filipino contestants have emerged as runner-up, never the victor.)
According to online rumours, either Shikin or Maureen will sweep the title. But I won’t count Tu out of the game just yet.
Described as the show’s “feisty fox”, the 24-year-old has been criticised by the judges as being too sexy in her photo shoots.
Tu, who speaks her mind freely, has proven to be a force to be reckoned with. But as one of the girls who belittled Maureen, will that work against her?
Thus far, Shikin and Tu have won two challenges each, while Maureen has won three. So, really, it’s anyone’s game.
Where the other eliminated contestants are concerned, I personally think Indonesia’s Clara Tan, 21, was the MVP of the season.
As an only child who had things come easy to her, she felt entitled and was prone to childish tantrums. Bearing a striking resemblance to sultry Taiwanese actress Shu Qi, she delivered the most waterworks.
She was the most entertaining; even taking a bus ride proved to be an adventure. She also came up with the show’s most valuable bon mots. These included: “The judges are telling me I’m lost but I don’t think I’m lost. I’m Clara.”
In my past review of AsNTM, I noted that it was lacklustre and did not live up to its “Expect the unexpected” tagline.
The challenges have been meh, while returning judges are what you’d expect from them.
Host and head judge Cindy Bishop is her usual charming self, who goes from maternal to fierce. Creative director Yu Tsai still barks his orders, and model mentor Cara Grogan is pretty but unmemorable.
The most buzz-worthy addition to the cast, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, only appeared in the first episode, to deliver a generic pep talk to the girls.
Well, it took a long time coming, but an unexpected twist finally occurred at the end of episode nine.
Bishop introduced new model Xiao Qing into the line-up to raise the stakes. However, it was later revealed that Xiao Qing was an undercover judge.
Also unexpected in that episode? The complete about-turn of a guest judge’s demeanour.
In the last season, he infamously used the four letter word, driving a contestant to tears. This time around, he was (unexpectedly) nice.
With this newly-gained momentum, the season will hopefully conclude on a high note.
Shikin, we’re rooting for you.
The finale of AsNTM Cycle 5 airs June 28 at 9pm on Star World (Astro Ch 711/HD Ch 722).