I know in some circles, “reality” is a dirty word when it comes before “TV”. I happen to be of the opinion that reality TV, like most other genres of entertainment, has its good and bad examples. And truth be told, Project Runway is one of my favorite shows right now.
Admittedly, I was a little late to the party. I didn’t start watching until I came across the show on Lifetime toward the beginning of last season. That is, season eight. In my defense, I didn’t have Bravo for most of the show’s existence. After just an episode or two, though, I was hooked. So when the new season started a few weeks ago, I was watching it online the very next day.
An explanation of the show’s appeal has to start with Tim Gunn. Who wouldn’t want him as their own personal best-gay-friend? I wish that he would pop into my life throughout the day and remind me to “make it work!” I love the way he says, “Thank you, Mood!” whenever the designers finish buying fabric. I love the expression he gets when he’s “very concerned” about someone’s look. And for anyone familiar with the season nine opening credits, I love the part when he says, “How do I have attitude?” Oh Tim, you always have attitude.
Speaking of Mood, the fabric store that the designers visit during almost every episode, I’m a big fan of Swatch, the Mood dog. (See the adorable photo at the bottom of this post if you aren’t familiar.) Someone in the editing room usually inserts a shot of Swatch into every Mood sequence. There’s nothing like the image of an indifferent canine to add levity to a moment of frantic reality competition. Sometimes Tim Gunn talks to Swatch, and then I’m positively beside myself with joy.
At first I was skeptical about the new season’s batch of designers. There was no Mondo, to say the least. (If Tim Gunn isn’t available to be my best-gay-friend, Mondo would be a very agreeable alternative.) That girl from Minneapolis was making us all look incredibly boring, and what is with Anya from Trinidad who apparently can’t sew? Her presence is a constant annoyance. But per usual, some of them have grown on me. I have such a love/hate relationship with Joshua McKinley, that lover of bedazzling and sassy behavior. He can be hilarious in his determination, but his love for Anya makes him suspect, not to mention his treatment of Becky in the last episode. I’m also enjoying Bert as the cast pariah, making him this season’s Michael Costello. Their hatred is especially amusing because good old Bert is actually not a bad designer.
But really, I think Project Runway‘s strength is that it’s assembled such an amusing group of judges and an unbeatable character in Tim Gunn. Those are the people who remain constant season after season, making the cast of designers almost secondary. Maybe this is why people continue to watch American Idol too, but I can’t vouch for that personally. However, I will argue that Project Runway is a consistently entertaining show that requires actual talent from its contestants. So we’re already a step above, say, Rock of Love with Bret Michaels.