Now comes the portion of our Project Runway blogging where we struggle mightily to remain entertaining and do everything we can to tamp down the bile and not sound like bitter fanboys who didn’t get the ending they wanted. It gets harder and harder each year. And people ask, “T Lo, why do you still do it then? Why blog about this show if you don’t enjoy it?” But the fact of the matter is, we do enjoy it, on a marginal level.
The first half of the season is usually pretty fun. That’s because that’s the half of the season that still has the headcases and weirdos in the cast, which means the runway show can often be one glorious WTF? after another walking that runway and the workroom resembles a community room in a mental institution. One word: Frokemon. Remember him? Where else on television are you going to see someone like that? Ain’t no Frokemons wandering through the background on Honey Boo Boo, after all.
We were recently asked in an interview about the decline of Project Runway – and it’s interesting how that question is so often framed. It’s never, “Do you think Project Runway has declined in quality since it moved to Lifetime?” It’s always, “Why do you think Project Runway has declined since it moved to Lifetime?”
In other words, it’s a given, and we’ve never heard anyone claim otherwise. Anyway, in this recent interview we said something that surprised us because it almost sounds like a defense of the show, which we suppose it is. We said, given that the show is in its tenth season, it’s a wonder it hasn’t declined further, and offered up America’s Next Top Model as an example of a show that has declined to the point of being completely unwatchable.
Project Runway isn’t the painful joke that ANTM has become; it’s just boring as hell. Bunim/Murray, Lifetime, Full Picture, or the Weinstein Company; whoever’s really responsible doesn’t matter, but the upshot is, someone in charge made the foolish decision that the show isn’t about creativity, it’s about storylines.
But when you’re in the tenth season, the contestants are far too aware of that fact, which means we get stupid shit like “I made my dress out of my mother’s X-rays” because all-too savvy contestants know that such a thing is seen as reality TV gold by the people in charge. And because creativity isn’t even on the menu anymore, we sat through a mini-runway show last night with belly tops and shorts instead of the jaw-dropping gowns and separates of seasons gone by. Because we’re the types who yell at our TV, when those sad pieces walked out last night, we yelled out the names of finalists from seasons gone by.
Each one of those collections only serve now to damn the show for its appalling dismissal of the creative process. Those were polished, cohesive, high quality looks that would have been quite expensive had they been offered up for sale. Last night’s runway looked like a bunch of Marshall’s and Chico’s rejects. It’s embarrassing. It’s not necessarily an indictment of this year’s crop of finalists. They’ve just been primed to believe that their personal stories are more important than their creative abilities. How could they not? More time is spent asking them about their sob stories or who they hate in the cast than is given to them to complete a collection. Ten looks in five weeks is only slightly better than the time they’re given for each garment during the competition. There used to be a huge difference in quality between the competition looks and the finale looks and now, there’s no difference at all. Each of the above pieces look exactly like what they are: a garment made in a matter of days.
We don’t dislike any of the finalists and we think they all have fairly distinct points of view. But their creativity and skills are not the centerpiece of the show or the reason why they’re finalists and on some level, they all know that.
What the show desperately needs in order to regain its mojo is a complete overhaul. Everyone knows there’s going to be an unconventional materials challenge, team challenges, “real woman” challenges, etc, ad nauseam. And everyone knows that ten designers are going to show collections at Fashion Week. Everyone knows they’re going to Mood. Everyone knows Heidi’s, Michael’s, and Nina’s tastes and that the taste and opinions of the guest judge almost never matter, nor does Tim’s advice. There are simply no surprises in the formula anymore. We want a season where the designers truly don’t know what the hell is going to be asked of them, instead of having to suffer through painfully obvious faux expressions of surprise when the show does exactly what it’s always done for years.
We’re really not angry. It’s been too many years of the same crap to get angry now. We’re just bored out of our minds. We saw the finale shows and there’s nothing coming up even close to the level of seasons past. It doesn’t really matter who wins or loses this season. There’s nothing to root for.Why do we still blog about it? Inertia, we suppose. A sense of responsibility to our readers. A warm, fuzzy feeling of gratitude for the show that provided the launch pad for what has turned out to be a couple of really fun, amazing careers. We don’t hate Project Runway. But it’s hard to stay in love with it anymore.
[Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke for Lifetime - Stills: tomandlorenzo.com]