Remember last week when I said I watched as much Project Runway as hockey? Yeah, it's time to throw down.
Like most viewers, I watch PR more out of habit and obligation than genuine interest at this point. It hasn't actually been all that interesting since Season 4. When Johnny Neck Tats won Season 3, it officially started the show on its gradual decline although it's still moderately entertaining. My complaints are two, and I imagine they are fairly common. First, the "judging" on the show is little more than a way for the producers to get rid of the cast members who aren't focus-grouping well enough. Actual talent seems to be about 4th on the list of priorities. I know, I know, it's TV. But the competition seems to be less about fashion and more about who can make the "edgiest" audition video, who has the most memorably idiotic haircut, and who has the potential to come up with the most irritating catchphrases. Second, the cast is essentially the same every year. Only the names change. There is a formula and the network(s) stick to it. It's like a Mad Lib. With hipsters.
It's so easy, any viewer can do it. Who needs Lifetime (and its desperate, futile efforts to get PR viewers to watch anything else on Lifetime) when you can plug your own characters into the various roles, find someone who can do a good Tim Gunn impression (I can, by the way), and make your own season right at home. I'll prove it. To make your own season, you'll need:
1. THE REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEALLY GAY GUY
Yes, something like 90% of the male contestants are gay. But each season there must be at least one gay guy who embodies every stereotype – at quadruple strength – that comes to mind when I say "gay fashion designer." Most of the cast are just regular dudes, but the Alpha Gay Dude goes the extra mile. Viewers, no matter how tactful, look at this guy and wonder "Holy balls, where did they find someone that gay?" The answer is that he was manufactured in a laboratory, assembled from parts taken from guys who were not quite as gay. I'm not sure if it's appropriate for us straights to use the term "flaming", but…what I'm saying is, flaming. Gay like a french horn solo in a Mardi Gras parade.
Examples: Austin Scarlett (Season 1), Jerell (Season 5), Kayne (Season 3)
2. THE COMEDIAN
This designer has average talent at best but gets strung along all season – usually one of the last people to get cut before Bryant Park – because he is funny. He makes good B-roll, great soundbites, and keeps the other cast members from murdering each other. The audience loves them, as their humor is not the polarizing type. Flat-out funny.
Examples: Santino (Season 2), Chris March (Season 4), Anthony (Season 7)
3. THE CLINICALLY INSANE ONE
Each cast needs one member who is absolutely fucking bonkers. Like "I drink your milkshake" crazy. The ideal candidate talks often about auras and fairies and assorted other pieces of New Age horseshit while engaging in bizarre behaviors that leave the other cast members genuinely fearful. Or it could just be weird, like incomprehensible Elisa who liked to spit on things.
My chi is covered in spit.
Examples: Elisa (Season 4), Stella (Season 5), Malvin (Season 6)
4. THE ONE STRAIGHT GUY
100% guaranteed to bring up the fact that he is straight early, often in the introductory episode, and very often thereafter. They often look like rejected extras from Jersey Shore.
DUDE, KNOW WHAT I LOVE? TITTIES!
Examples: Jeffrey (Season 3), Kevin (Season 4), Johnny Sakalis (Season 6)
5. HOT GIRL
The producers understand that many a boyfriend/husband/etc. are forced to watch this show against their will. So there is one extra-hot female contestant in an attempt to placate them. Their design talents are often considerable, enabling the producers to keep them around to the bitter end. They are always nice, too, so that male viewers can think they are the ideal girlfriend. The kind who would never make them watch PR.
"Althea, Nina wants you in a tighter shirt."
Examples: Alison (Season 3), Emily Brandle (Season 5), Althea (Season 6)
6. MIDDLE AGED WOMAN
Bravo knows its audience, but Lifetime reeeeeeally knows its audience. There has to be at least one contestant upon whom the middle-aged female viewers can project themselves. These contestants range from highly talented (Laura, Season 3) to "Why is she there?" bad (Marla, Season 2; also, hot), although we all know the answer to that.
My kids don't call me either. Let's go out for appletinis.
Examples: Laura Bennett (Season 3), Marla (Season 2), Peach (Season 8)
7. THE ASSHOLE
Every season of every reality show ever made has the one asshole everyone wants to choke. The other contestants (and most viewers) spend a lot of time hoping he or she will trip and be impaled on a pair of scissors or Nina Garcia's jagged, angular face. The assholes are often very good and may even end up winning, making them increasingly unbearable until a friend or family member has them euthanized.
God, you are so beneath me.
Examples: Irina (Season 6), Kenley (Season 5), Wendy Pepper (Season 1)
8. THE CARTOON CHARACTER
These are the pure self-promoters, trying as hard as possible to be "quirky" and constantly throwing out ridiculous catchphrases. Like a sitcom character, they fight for more camera time for reasons that have nothing to do with talent. Usually very young and immature. They often go by one name (a la Brazilian soccer players) or some ridiculous moniker befitting their gimmicky appearance.
I refer to myself in 3rd person. Seriously.
Examples: Christian (Season 4), "Suede" (Season 5), "Epperson" (Season 6)
Fill out the rest of the cast with people who are quiet, bland, unremarkable, and pretty good at making clothes. Et voila. You're now a producer.