Friday, September 3, 2010

Catching Up With... Project Runway Season 8

Not even Mondo's mad skills can help Peach with this design.
Photo Credit: Lifetime
By Paul Steven Brown

'Project Runway'
Season 8 - Episodes 1 - 6
"And Sew It Begins"
"Larger Than Life"
"It's a Party"
"Hats Off to You"
"There IS an 'I' in Team"
"You Can Totally Wear That Again"

Despite being one of the few reality shows that I watch on a regular basis, I really had no intention of watching the eight season of 'Project Runway'. I think I was just burning out on the concept. However, my wife is still a fan and well... if the television is on... I can't turn away. And like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III, they pulled me back in. Damn you, Heidi and Tim.

The show has been expanded to an hour and a half each week. Luckily, this doesn't feel like added filler. Tim is allowed more time to critique in the work room, which was always something that felt too abbreviated. More Tim is a good thing, because he knows his stuff and has been able to really steer some designers into the right direction. The runway and judging take up the last thirty minutes of the show, allowing for more commentary and deliberation. This is really beneficial when I'm not seeing eye to eye with the judges, so this really helps their arguments.

More time means more drama, and boy, has there been some drama. The first two wins justifiably went to Gretchen, who quickly established herself as one of the designers to watch. She's really good, but after that second win, it all went to her head. "I'm a force to be reckoned with." Sheesh! Confidence is one thing, but Gretchen slammed the accelerator all the way down to ego trip.

Gretchen quickly became the queen bee of the young, cool designers; at least the young, cool designers that could see through her b.s. Andy and Christopher are totally under her spell, as is Ivy. Mondo is so arty it hurts, but at 32, I think he's grown up enough to recognize this sort of clique mentality and thus far has stayed away from it. Mondo has been the other stand out and early designer to watch. He's really talented, takes risks, and pulls it off most of the time.

Most of the drama so far in season eight has centered around Michael C. He seems like a nice guy and he was obviously a good enough designer to get on the show, and not because of some outrageous persona like, say Santino Rice. Apparently, his technical skills are not the best, he struggles in the work room, but seems to pull it all off by the time of the runway show. His finished work looks good, maybe safe, but there hasn't been any real glaring errors or noticeable fashion faux pas with his work. He's won twice.

However, at some point around the third episode, a few of the cool designers got it in there head that he's an awful designer. With Gretchen being one of these folks with a dislike for Michael C., it wasn't long before the clique jumped onto the Michael hating bandwagon. The worst offender has been Ivy, a middle of the pack designer who seems to be borderline delusional. During the last episode, she was convinced that Michael C. was telling people at a showing that she was the bitch of the show and not to vote for her look. Now, reality show producers and editors looooooooooooove drama, and I would think that if he had actually said these things, it would have been shown on camera. Upon learning of this, Michael confronted Ivy in front of a few of the other designers. This was smart, since if they had been alone, she could have twisted his words to her liking and taken her side of the story back to the pack. Of course, Ivy chose not to believe him.

The week before that, Michael was on a team with Gretchen, Andy, Ivy, Christopher, and A.J. He had earned immunity for his win the week before, but his team proceeded to throw him under the bus the entire time. Michael Kors quickly pointed out that it's easy to blame the guy who can't be voted out, but their hatred seemed deeper than that. He didn't do much on the team because they wouldn't allow him to do anything. The cool kids keep harping on his poor sewing and construction skills, but the evidence of this hasn't been translated well on camera. The one item that he was allowed to make was well like by guest judge Georgina Chapman.

The cool kids team went down in flames and Gretchen was a mess during the judging. First she supported the work, then she hated it, then she blamed Michael C. for everything, despite having kept him from working on just about anything. It was so bad that the normally collected Tim Gunn called her out in front of all the other contestants. Yes, Tim Gunn is awesome.

The second win for Michael C. was pretty great for the underdog. While I would have given it to Mondo, Michael's was still a pretty great transformation of a the dress that was given to him to work with. Gretchen and Ivy and Co., were completely beside themselves over his second win. They just can't see where the judges are coming from. Gretchen even went as far as to begin questioning the taste of the judges. How quickly she has forgotten that they granted her two wins, too. Has the cool kids' distaste of Michael C. completely blinded them to any possibility that, while possibly not the best at construction, could still be a really strong designer?

For the most part this has been THE narrative of the season, and it's a strong one. Slightly schlubby underdog? Check. Talented but egotistically villain? Check. Henchmen? Check. Objective voices? Check. However, I don't think that it's a story that can be maintained for the entirety of the season.

We're at the halfway point of the season, but you can usually divide it up in thirds based on the types of designers that get eliminated. The first third are usually the ones that didn't stand a chance in hell of making it to Bryant Park. The second third are the ones that are either good at the technical stuff or design, but not both. The final third is the systematic dismantling of all the really talented designers until we get the best three. Most of the time, the judges have done a really solid job of weeding it down properly, with only a few surprises. That's not to say that there aren't some surprises along the way. Some really good talent has been eliminated due to a freakishly bad performance, but those are rare.

Prediction time! The next five to be eliminated will be (and in no particular order) April (who hasn't wowed anyone yet), Michael C. (I think his flaws will finally become apparent), Michael D. (he barely made it out the last judging alive), Christopher (he's been middle of the pack most of the time), and Ivy (looking forward to her inevitable self-destruction). I'm guessing that the big five will be Andy (has some strong construction skills), Cassanova (he really got his act together during the last two challenges), Mondo (very strong), Gretchen (very strong and knows it), and Valerie (has been in the top three more than any other designer so far). Mondo and Gretchen are certainly on track for Bryant Park, so it's a toss up between the other three on who will be the third.

Of course something crazy will happen next week that will blow a hole in my predictions, but that's part of the fun. That and the drama.

No comments:

Post a Comment