Sunday, August 25, 2013

In Which I Review Project Runway (12x6)

Under normal circumstances, I would be loathe to write a review of Project Runway (or any reality TV show) for a few reasons.
First, reality television is a genre that is constructed around the of idea of being over the top. There is a reason why casting calls are put out for reality TV and they don't just pick random people off the street. The people who get on these type of shows have to be one of three types; the "colorful" characters are the ones who will provide the most drama and turmoil amongst their fellow competitors, normally by inducing rage and hysteria in their peers; the second are the "talented" characters or the ones who actually have the potential to go all the way to the end. Reality TV would not be the phenomenon it is today if it didn't showcase some measure of talent. And finally, the "misc" characters who skate rather precariously in the middle of the other two. They aren't extreme enough to warrant good drama but neither are they talented enough for us to sit up and pay attention. In the case of Project Runway they stay in the middle until all the really poor designers are done and then are quickly Auf'ed by Heidi because they can no longer hide in the skirts of lesser people. Because reality TV is built around these (now) unsurprising archetypes, the outcomes is almost known before the season even ends. At this point, there have been six episodes of the twelfth season and I already know who is going to fashion week (or should go anyway) based on how PR works. Not really fun for bloggers (unless you're Tom and Lorenzo who are so unbelievably fabulous they make me wish I was a bitchy gay queen so I could examine PR like they do).
This brings me to my second reason for lack of PR blogging, despite being an avid viewer for years now: I am not a fashion expert. I suppose we could say that I'm not a TV expert as well (my education is in history, religion, classics, languages and other mishmash) but I do know how to deconstruct symbols and read a "text." But in all honesty, I know little of fashion. In the morning, it's jeans, a black My Chemical Romance shirt, ponytail, and hot pink shoes. That's my go-to outfit. I own a grand total of one dress and one skirt. My knowledge of the fashion industry extends to my own personal aesthetic, though you could argue that this is all fashion is when you break it down to its core.
And third, is my own moral huffiness over reality TV (it's more scripted than a network drama) only extends so far. I will continue to watch no matter how increasingly clear it becomes that the producers are playing the audience like a perfectly tuned accordion.

This weeks episode of Project Runway, involving an "exotic" glamping trip into the NYC woods pissed me off to the point where I've been writing this blog in my head ever since my viewing.

This is Justin. Justin is a really sweet guy. He's low key, down to earth, keeps his head down and does his work. He doesn't get swept up in the crazy drama (of which there has been an extreme amount this season). He stitches, he sews, he draws, he shows. His teammates and fellows love him. He wear a bow tie and a jaunty little hat. He's polite. He makes little jokes. He has never been in the top and until Thursday he was never in the bottom. Sound familiar? He falls so squarely into our "misc" category that it pretty much proves my entire thesis on the casting of PR. The garments Justin produced thus far are the three D's: dull, dependable, and finally disastrous.

For example, these are the clothes Justin has put out thus far:
While I'm fond of pink this is so retro that his model looks dated. But it wasn't as bad as others  
Dull, dull, dull, dull. But again. Perfectly acceptable because others were worse
Terrible. The skirt is tacky, the top is a mess and that glue gun lace is crafty. This had every right to get Auf'ed. There may have been one dress that was worse (pee stained tent dress) but this was a very close worst second place. And it did get the Auf. And then something happened..

Justin got saved. In an effort to shake up the now tired format of PR, the producers this year gave Time Gunn a "save." One time during the season, Tim was allowed to veto the judges and save the designer about to pack up their space in Parsons Work Room. And this week, Tim used it on that travesty pictured above. 

Because here is what you have to understand, gentle reader. Justin is a decent designer, but not good enough to get to Fashion Week, and he isn't a dramatic and colorful character. But you know what Justin is? Justin is DEAF.  Justin comes equipped with his own external hearing aid, sign language, and an incredibly fashion forward translator. After I watched PR, I got on to Twitter to go through the reactions of those watching live and was shocked to read things like the following:
"Tim please save Justin! He's such a nice guy!"
"Tim Gunn better use that save of his; Justin deserves it!"
"Thank you Tim for saving Justin. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy!" 

Are we watching the same show? Are YOU watching "Make New Friends Runway?" Are we looking at the same dress? Because the dress I'm looking at needs to be put into the back of a closet somewhere and forgotten about.
Somewhere, in some dark shadowy corner, a producer is rubbing their hands together, giving a Monty Burns-esque chuckle and swimming in money. This episode alone proves that the producers of PR are terribly wonderful at their jobs. Justin is a second rate designer who is NOT going to go to Fashion Week but he is disabled (a first for PR!) and automatically everyone thinks he must be treated like fragile china. 

And that brings me to the real purpose of this random installment of PR blogging: the condensation of people with disabilities for profit and gain. In my hearts of hearts, I know Tim didn't want to use his save this week. I have a vision of poor Tim, who used to have such an air of legitimacy about him, being pulled aside and commanded to use his save because the producers knew how it would play on TV. And Tim with dollar signs in his eyes gladly marched off to the holding room, pulled out his little pocket square and made it seem like the next Oscar de la Renta had been Auf'ed. 
This is quality drama at its finest. We see Justin, poor helpless deaf Justin who flat out told everyone in the first episode of the season "just be normal around me!" (BECAUSE HE IS NO DIFFERENT THAN ANY OF US AND SHOULDN'T BE TREATED AS SUCH), and instantly "we must help him! We must save him from the harsh world because life has been so cruel to him already." It's condescending. It took away Justin's normalcy and made him into something more than he is and it irked me so much that the producers would manipulate not only US but HIM in this way that I had to take to the blog.  
The save was wasted and if Bradon or Dom, designers with a real eye and incredible point of view, get kicked off I will be not be happy. (So help me, Bradon will win this thing if I have to fly to New York and pull Heidi by her blonde hair and kick Zac Posen.)  
One final note: this obviously should have won on Thursday. It's funny how the judges gushed and gushed and then someone else won it. Someone who designed "poopy" pants (though the top was pretty chic). But of course Jeremy couldn't win this week and of course it had to be Alexandria who won because she got yelled at last week and that's how the producers roll here on Project Runway. 
This dress though is fantastic. And little London Gay Boy knows how to get the judges to eat out of his hand. "I wrote a letter to my husband because he is the center of my life and the woods reminded me of the world and our own little centers." Mon Dieu. 
This is exactly what you say to a room full of people with a certain artistic temperament. Nicely played, London boy.

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