Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

19° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Culture Blotter

Oh, “Project Runway,” we’ve been through so much together over the last six years. Remember the time Santino made up that story about Tim Gunn and Andrae going to Red Lobster together, or the time Michael Kors said an outfit looked like “barefoot Appalachian Lil’ Abner Barbie”? I reminisce about Austin Scarlett’s flowing multi-tonal Emmys gown as it floated down my mental runway again yesterday. But wait, where has all that greatness been this year? I don’t remember buying a season pass to The Greatest Blah on Earth. At the risk of sounding like a Meat Loaf song, I want to keep loving this show, but I’m not sure how to anymore.

Let’s start with the cast. In past years, “Project Runway” managed to reflect a wide range of aspiring designers within the “egomaniac” category – everyone from the prim, patrician Laura to the hammer-headed, neck-tatted Jeffrey ­- and it’s been our job as viewers to reconcile their sometimes charming, sometimes cruel personalities with the undeniable freshness of their work. There was special gratification in deciding if someone as bat-crap insane as Jeffrey deserved to win after he’d verbally berated Angela’s mom mid-challenge.

This season, we got neither the personalities nor the raw talent, but a bunch of shallowly histrionic crybabies with a loose grasp on the meaning of the word “inspiration.” The only thing that has truly impressed me is how often the contestants burst into tears. I haven’t seen an episode this year where a designer hasn’t wept, perhaps because so little of his or her work speaks for itself.

Take the last episode for instance: Set free in the Getty Museum for their final challenge, the remaining contestants chose pieces of art on which to base their designs. Chris didn’t even go inside; he chose (wait for it) a rock covered in algae, and the resulting dress looked like the Halloween costume you might choose if you’re going for “slutty butter knife.” He lost his composure before the judges, but the theatrics were beside the point: sobbing didn’t make his dress any more attractive than, oh, a rock covered in algae. Similarly, a Monet painting moved Gordana to tears, but all that emotion didn’t stop her gown from looking like one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s vulva flowers. When it came time to choose a winner, I found myself yearning to check the “none of the above” box. I don’t know whom we’re supposed to like out of this cast.

Maybe my ambivalence about the contestants is due in part to the fact that our trusty judges took random leaves of absence throughout the season. Without King Kors there to emanate radioactive self-tanner and pithy wisdom, the judges’ commentary amounts to a series of shrugs and yawns. Bringing in former contestants as guest judges is a flaccid substitution (What makes them any more qualified to judge than the current contestants?) and Heidi Klum isn’t exactly doing any heavy lifting. We get it, Heidi, you look good in everything; auf, auf, auf.

It’s not surprising ratings dropped given this much suck, but still, I’m not ready to throw away my relationship with “Project Runway.” Somehow I’m optimistic Kors will return next season refreshed and ready to regale us with sweet and salty zingers. Until then, we’ll call it a break.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Culture Blotter