Thursday, July 13, 2006

Things People Should Know: The Project Runway Edition

I understand that there is something different about reality shows where you are demonstrating a pre-existing talent in the hopes of skipping over steps to make it big in the industry of your choice. That you may feel your talent is the only thing you'll need. Yet, as I watched the first episode of Season 3, I was struck with the irony that season two and now season three have brought us people who are unfamiliar with the show and the concept of reality shows in general. (Or perhaps, over-familiar but we will get to that).
The first season of any new show, participants can be forgiven for not knowing entirely what they have signed up for. They answered a casting call that, one assumes, sketched out a concept that appealed to them - or a prize that appealed to them. But they had no idea how the challenges would be worked.
So I find it fascinating that it was season two that brought us a contestant who thought the magical reality elves were really doing all the sewing behind the scenes and someone who had apparently never used an industrial sewing machine before. Now to be fair the contestant who thought there were magical elves can be forgiven for feeling there was more going on than viewers at home were really seeing. And the first season's crop produced such great stuff, one could argue she had no idea how they would accomplish that without magical elves.
Also in season two, there was Santino, who apparently never saw the dress Austin created for the challenge that eliminated him, or so one assumes, since he bought the exact same fabric for a challenge where one of the judges was a contestant from the first season. (This was a memorable fabric with a dip dye effect, we are not talking navy charmeuse here).
In last night's episode we had the first challenge, which was - as it had been before - innovation. In this case the contestants had to find items in their apartment to use for their outfit. A number of them used sheets, shower curtains, and window curtains. (There was also a moment where returning to the apartment they had recently ripped apart, several of the contestants were saddened to discover the reality elves had not restored order to their apartments or replaced the items they used.) So the first contestant, Stacey, fell due to her inability to use an industrial sewing machine. (To her credit, she gamely hand sewed her item, but it meant she did not have time to finish it well.) As Adam, at Things Thrown Together Five Minutes Ago said, - "if I knew I was going to be on Survivor, I'd sure try to learn how to make fire before I left. If I ever make it to The Amazing Race, I'll finally learn to ride a bike. And . . ."

PS - Having now caught up on the divine Tim Gunn's podcast for the episode, he chuckles at the thought that the designers thought they were at the Plaza and that housekeeping, along with a decorating team should have raced in while they were at the workroom. I have great sympathy for coming back to that while drop-dead tired - but again. As Tim would say, "Make it work".