Project Runway will be starting a new season very soon, and I have a decision to make: am I willing to become a Lifetime woman in order to watch?
Before Project Runway, I could very honestly and proudly proclaim, "I don't watch 'reality shows.'" The whole Survivor thing totally passed me by. It puzzled me that people would find that sort of thing interesting.
Okay, I did watch the first season of The Real World, when I was still in high school. Back in those days I would have watched anything if MTV aired it. I was also a fan of Beavis and Butthead and Liquid Television (were the animated series Aeon Flux began). But that's not "reality television," because the term didn't exist then.
All right, I followed one of the seasons of Big Brother, I'm not sure which, but it was in the single digits. My defense for that is our lack of cable television at the time. Beaumont, Texas only had five stations that were analog broadcast; we didn't even get the WB!
But I never really got "hooked" until my 2 a.m. feedings with Princess introduced me to a giant maniac named Santino and the gentle wisdom of Tim Gunn. I became an avid follower of Season 2 of Project Runway (still, in my opinion, the best season) and have never looked back.
For those of you unfamiliar with the show, here's a quick tutorial:
1. Heidi Klum: Host and judge. Heidi plays the role of "everywoman" on the judging panel; she has no experience designing or sewing, but she spots things that would be visible to most supermodels capable of walking the runway at a Victoria's Secret fashion show eight weeks after giving birth. You know, just like you and me.
2. Tim Gunn: Mentor. Tim Gunn is the most fabulous being ever created by reality television. He uses wonderful big words like "egregious." His job is to help explain the challenges to the designers, oversee their shopping trips, and give feedback about their designs-in-progress. He always gets teary at just the right moments. He defines "unflappable." I love Tim Gunn.
3. Michael Kors: Judge. Michael Kors is a well-known American designer who has dressed many celebrities and important persons. He uses phrases like "I'm underwhelmed" and "I feel like the Pope at a sex club," though I'm fairly certain those were in response to two different challenges.
4. Nina Garcia: Judge. Nina is a bigwig in the fashion magazine industry, first as fashion editor of Elle magazine, then editor-at-large. Nina is completely bored with everything anyone has ever worn ever, and wants something new. She scares the contestants more than any other judge.
5. Guest Judge: Sometimes celebrities (Natalie Portman, Sarah Jessica Parker) but usually fashion insiders, these guest judges are generally connected to product placement or sponsorship in some way. They can be entertaining, but rarely.
6. Designers: Each season starts with 13-16 designers who, each show, must create a garment (or outfit, which they call "a look") within certain parameters. At the end of each show, one designer is told, "You're out," by Heidi, and that poor sucker goes home. The final three (or four) show a 12-13 piece collection at Fashion Week in New York.
Naturally, a lot of the show is drama between the designers. Sometimes they have to work in teams. One time they had to dress themselves, another time they had to dress each other. Tempers run high and artistic temperaments break down. Delicious.
Seasons 1-5 of Project Runway were on the Bravo Television Network ("TV for Gay Men and the Women Who Love Them"). The focus was on the snipy, the snarky, and the fabulous. Season 6 of Project Runway will air on Lifetime ("Television for Women Who Cry Soft Tears and Hold Each Other Gently"), which is not my thing at all.
Will this change my beloved PR? Will they begin to focus on the female designers, as though female designers are capable of any sort of personal feeling? Will they have to dress women who weigh more than 82 pounds?
I don't know. The premiere is Thursday, August 20, and all I can say is, I'll try.
Now pass me that Kleenex and hold me. Gently.