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The Reel Critic Puts A Spotlight On ‘The Super Models’

Written by on September 29, 2023

Apple TV’s The Super Models documents the lives and professional careers of models Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington Burns and Cindy Crawford. Reggie “The Reel Critic” Ponder met with the creators of the four-part docuseries to discuss the inspirations behind it. 

The Super Models follows the careers of Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington Burns and Cindy Crawford, and examines how the four shook up the modeling industry and found unimaginable success. 

The series includes archival footage, interviews and an in-depth look at how these supermodels entered the industry and made a name for themselves beyond the runway. 

Reggie Ponder spoke with directors Larissa Bills and Roger Ross Williams about the creation of the show, their visions, behind-the-scenes moments, highlights and more! Explore their full conversation on this week’s segment of The Reel Critic with Reggie Ponder.

The Super Models aired on Apple TV on September 20, 2023. All four episodes of The Super Models are now streaming on Apple TV+.

Reggie Ponder: I’m Reggie Ponder, The Reel Critic, and this week is all about the models — the Apple TV+ docu-series The Super Models, which features Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington. I got a chance to speak with the directors of the series, Larissa Bills and Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams. Here’s an excerpt from that interview. 

What was your vision for this documentary? In one way, it is a celebration of all these icons and industries, and another is like a cautionary tale regarding the industry. And then even in another, it kind of just highlights female power and empowerment. Did that vision change, or remain the same along the way?

Larissa Bills: I think we always wanted to tell the story, their biographical stories, but also look at that industry and their lives through today’s lens, and some of the things that they had gone through. The fact that we’ve been through the Me Too movement, we’ve been through Black Lives Matter, what was different then? How has it changed? Has it changed? We wanted to sort of explore all of that through their first-person stories. And I think there’s also a sense, for me, of a bit of nostalgia and wanting to revisit this time that I had first come to New York, and everything was very new and exciting. And the music was really great. And revisiting that era before the internet, before we had all this information all the time, and people had magazines. As Michael Musto says, I think this was one of Roger and my favorite lines in the show, “Kids, before the internet, there was this thing, and it was called magazines.” And I wanted to revisit that and I loved the photography, and I felt like there was more depth to the role of the model. And these women in particular, just given their success, there had to be more to the story. 

Roger Ross Williams: I mean, for me, it was important also to see them now, as older mature women and to cut back and forth between the present day. You know, a lot of people have commented on Naomi talking about having a hot flash, and that we put that in there. 

LB: Thank you, thank you. 

RRW: Larissa has them all the time. She’s always …

LB: That was our little easter egg! But people really seemed to catch on, because it’s so relatable, and it’s Naomi Campbell.

RRW: Even Naomi has hot flashes. But really showing them now, as mature women who are doing great things in the world and cutting back and forth. I love that balance, and that was really sort of a great way to do it because it kept you engaged and, you know, they’re still working. They’re … and they all, their personalities. Cindy on her jet, I doubt it’s her jet, but on the private jet. Naomi and Kenya on the ATV, in the studio, in Arthur Elgort’s studio where Larissa worked as a young intern with Christie and Linda, Linda on her Fenty shoot. So it’s like, that flashback from what they’re doing today. 

RP: For more from this interview, you can go to the AAFCA YouTube channel. As for the series itself, I liked it. I thought they did a really good job of allowing these women to tell their story. It took us back to the ’80s, we learn how they entered the industry. We learned a lot about some of the challenges they had, and we learned a lot about the triumphs, what made these women supermodels. 

Now, I will say that what The Super Models excels at is telling each one of the stories so well that the viewers are left wanting more, wondering why the series stops at just four episodes. It’s clear that there’s more to their stories, and it left me curious about whether some of the topics were intentionally kept superficial, or if certain details were left on the cutting floor by the director, or if the women chose not to delve into certain issues at all. The Super Models is a very good series, despite these shortcomings. But because of them, I found myself wishing for at least four more episodes. The Super Models is nostalgic, fun, disheartening and hopeful all at once. I’m giving it three reels out of four. It is worth watching. You can find it on Apple TV+, and you can find me on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube @TheReelCritic, and I’ll see you next time.

Check out more reviews and interviews from Reggie Ponder here, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram

Interview and audio production by Reggie Ponder

Written introduction by Abigail Harrison

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