The Tyra Banks Show Tried Very Hard

This is TV Time Capsule, our chance to revisit moments that defined a genre, era, or generation. In each episode, we’ll take a critical look at a show, theme, or entertainer to relive the absurdity of pre-streaming programming.

In the early aughts, Tyra Banks was a very busy woman building her own media empire. Riding the success of America’s Next Top Model, her next move was, of course, to launch a daytime talk show. Enter the iconic, entertaining, and often erratic The Tyra Banks Show.


The crown jewel of The Tyra Banks Show were its bizarre undercover segments: Banks would film entire episodes “incognito”—as much as one can with a camera crew in tow—on “the streets,” sometimes as a person experiencing homelessness or as an exotic dancer.

In the video above, Jezebel’s Ashley Reese and Rich Juzwiak revisit some of these segments and Banks’s habit of masquerading ego as service.

Creative Producer and a Cubanasa from the 305.




Picture it, Los Angeles, 2006. I had just moved here literally the day before. I saw a listing in probably backstage or something about a model open call, so I go. It’s at the Crowne Plaza in West LA, where parking was like $50 a day or something, so I park at this lot across the street, thinking, “How long could I possibly be there for?” Once again, second day in LA.

When we entered the interview room, we all had to sign a filming waiver, which was written up between us and what turned out to be a fictitious modeling agency, saying that we had to give them the right to tape us because they need to see how we walk, etc. Basically making it seem super innocuous but still giving them the right to tape us. So I signed because I was like, “Well, that seems like a valid reason to tape us.” We all signed. You had to in order to be interviewed.

Enter the interview room, talk with an “agent,” am told to wait around some and eventually I’ll be taken into another room for the taping and to have photos taken. Okay, sure. I’m super happy because I got past the first interview and they must have seen something they liked and yay I’m in LA and wow, am I gonna be an actual model? Life seems good.

10 HOURS LATER (once again, second day in LA) I’m still waiting. A few hours prior there sounded like there was a skirmish in the hallway that the “agents’ assistants” went out and dealt with, and honestly, since then, there seemed to be repeated incidents and yelling going on in the hallway. Another girl asked what was going on and one of the assistants said there was a fight in another one of the ballrooms. Finally, a chick BARGES INTO THE WAITING ROOM BUCK NAKED and screams, “IT’S NOT REAL! IT’S TYRA BANKS! SHE’S GONNA TRICK YOU INTO GETTING NAKED AND THEN PUT YOU ON HER SHOW!” Fucking mascara running down this girl’s face and everything. Obviously we’re all like WHAT.

So we’re all like oh hell no, fuck this, and collect our things and go to leave. I run into a girl I had made friends with earlier in the day, who is in a group of girls who is screaming and waving their waivers in a PA’s face, yelling that they’re gonna sue, ripping up the waivers, etc. PA is reminding them over and over again that they all signed the waiver and have no right to sue. New Friend tells me basically what happened was that you would enter the room, two male “agents” would be there, they’d start photographing you, and eventually would ask you to get naked. New friend had been modeling for a long time, and according to her, nude modeling wasn’t that weird of an ask, especially outside of the U.S., so she was like, “Sure.”

So what happens next is Tyra, who has been hiding in a closet with a hidden camera the entire time, WAITS UNTIL YOU’RE FULLY NAKED, and comes running out of the closet like, “Girrrrrl, no! You don’t ever have to do that!” and tries to put a blanket around you and give you a fucking hug like you’re Fantine and shit. For some reason, she couldn’t pounce out BEFORE you got naked. Had to wait until you were REAL ripe for embarrassment. Apparently the theme for the show was going to be “The Dark Side of Modeling,” and in true Tyra fashion, instead of just like, you know, interviewing models who had been taken advantage of, she had to stage an actual event and...take advantage of the models herself.

So while I’m lucky I never made it into the actual room, the parking lot across the street was closed by the time I got back over there, so New Friend gave me a ride home, roommate gave me a ride back over the next day, I waited until someone was about to exit the garage and just tailed them out of there because I didn’t have a fucking hundred dollars to pay for overnight parking, and New Friend and I brought the case to AFTRA to try to have the episode pulled, but I don’t think it ever was. I got a call from one of the producers when they were ready to film the in-studio part of the show asking if I wanted to come on and talk about my experience and I was like, “Only if you want me to say out loud what you guys did,” and he hung up on me.

She is not girl power. She does not care about anyone but herself (as evidenced in the above video). She’s horrible. She shouldn’t be hosting DWTS. She shouldn’t have a career. She needs to be fucking cancelled.