Parsons, We Have A Problem

I would really like to know what has happened to my beloved Project Runway. Because it really isn't a very good show any more. And I, like Tim Gunn*, am concerned.

Back in the days when PR was on Bravo -- and it feels like it was hundreds of years ago, now, but it was only two years and three seasons -- PR was groundbreaking television. It was not like many other reality shows at the time: it was, is, and remained about fashion. First, last, foremost, and pretty much only about fashion.

Sure, in a competitive reality show, you're going to have some interpersonal interaction, but this was not like Survivor or Big Brother. This was a show about making great clothes. Do, or do not. There was no negotiation, no politics. There was no "voting off the island." It didn't really matter whether the rest of the designers liked you or not; at the end of each episode, you either made good stuff and stayed around, or you made crappy stuff and got sent home.

Now, I am not not naive, and I understand that people are not cast for a reality show about designing based solely and entirely on whether or not they can actually design. But since fashion is a creative industry, and what with creative people being how they are, there has been no shortage of "characters" on this show. You might have heard of one or two of them: Jay. Wendy Pepper. Austin. Santino. Jeffrey Sebelia. Christian Siriano. Laura Bennett. My favorites, Chris March and Nick Verreos. Fascinating people, every one, but they didn't do what they did because they were "popular" or "players" -- they made it, or didn't, based on their clothes.

I still think that's the case with PR, but something has changed. The show switched from Bravo to Lifetime, and I really feel like the focus of the production has shifted from "interesting people making beautiful clothes" to "a bunch of big-mouths being nasty to each other and causing drama and sometimes making something that someone in the audience would wear." There has always been some drama and nastiness -- see: Wendy Pepper, mentioned above -- but when PR started the nastiness was shocking because it seemed like such an anomaly.

(Come on, Tim Gunn has got to be one of the nicest guys on Earth. Do you think he would have signed up for this if it was going to be all drama all the time? I sure don't.)

If I had to come up with an explanation for what drove the shift from "making high-quality television" to "making highly-viewed entertainment," I would say that it came when the producers and the network changed. Now the show is produced by Bunim/Murray, the same outfit behind The "Real" World (emphasis added), and the show airs on Lifetime, the network responsible for that cinematic classic Mother May I Sleep With Danger? starring perennial Oscar-bait Tori Spelling.

And please note that I say this from a place of love, because I used to watch The Real World religiously back in the day, and I actually kind of like Tori Spelling -- but these changes blow.

Now the show is an hour and a half long, instead of just an hour, and that extra half hour? Is nothing but the designers criticizing each other's designs and basic general bitchery. It's stupid and unnecessary. Nobody looks good under these circumstances. If these people were really that good, they wouldn't need a reality show on basic cable to get people to buy their stuff. And I assure you: there are only maybe three people on this show whose clothes I would actually consider buying, and one of them has already been eliminated.

I don't know that I really have a suggestion on how the show can be fixed. I would definitely recommend cutting out the extra half hour, and maybe going back to Bravo. But I'm not sure even going back to the original homebase will help; some of the stuff that we have seen on PR is slowly creeping into other quality Bravo shows now. I don't really care how much the contestants on Top Chef hate each other -- the more I have to see the giant egos interacting, the less I feel inclined to eat at one of their restaurants. I don't want to eat where the chef doesn't respect anybody but himself.

And don't even get me started on Work of Art, which was seriously an unmitigated disaster.

Maybe what I am saying is this -- Dear Project Runway people: If you're reading this (and I doubt that you are, because you are not my mother, so why do you care?), stop with the drama! Just make clothes! You're making Tim Gunn* concerned, and I don't like it. Concerny faces give me wrinkles. Thanks! PS - Stop showing the Schick Quattro razor-trimmer commercial during PR because I really don't want to think about the shape of other women's "topiaries." Eww.

* Tim Gunn is probably not concerned, but that is what he says all the time.


  1. i'm guessing this means the new season of PR started already. an hour and a half long, though? that's just stupid.

  2. are you coming up palmer days...and there are pony rides love mom