Friday, October 14, 2016

Let's Talk "Project Runway" Teams

Oh, you know I love a team challenge. So, what did we learn?  Well, a couple of things.  First, it's likely that the contestants had no way of knowing that Lifetime was going to be pushing a show that was a cross between "Shark Tank" and "Project Runway" during every commercial break, in fact I feel somewhat certain of that since for once they just did this thing without any product placement.  
But nonetheless, pitching is a thing that happens most years, as are team or partnered challenges.  Each team picked someone to be the front person for their team challenge, and while, from what we saw, the workroom work was pretty equitable (well, except Team Bouton having to people who worked on one dull dress but apparently helped a lot with other things) in the end this excess of equability meant the person who talked the most in the pitch got the credit and the blame.  This is pretty good life experience really.  
Both teams worked together pretty well, and you know what, it was still an interesting show!  
So, to go back to the pitches, one team had a very polished pitch about who and where their market was, but classic yet uninteresting sketches.  And one team had a less polished pitch, were a little less sure of their target price point, but better sketches.  
In writing the comparison might be better query, less interesting sample pages, versus the reverse.  And it turned out, better sketches had all three judges committing more money to Team Bouton.  Team Bouton correctly seemed to recognize that having gotten more money they really needed to live up to the promise.  
And Team Unity realized they had targeted a saturated area of the market and tried to fix that with fabrics, which wasn't the worst idea, except they chose kind of a weird mix of fabrics.  
I think one of the crucial things that people don't realize about the Tim critiques is that he is focused on the things you can still change.  So, if he says, this dress doesn't match the rest of your collection to one team, and you will need to own your somber color palette to the other, it doesn't mean he thinks team granny dress is in more trouble, it means he thinks team granny dress can fix their dress, and team somber colors can maybe jazz it up with accessories.  
I will say, in contrast to some other team challenges, things weren't either crazy lopsided team to team, or such a mish mash that there was no clear winner.  But I think Brik and Jenny were very lucky that the overall strength of their team kept them from too much scrutiny.  It also said something that their collection (in the end) looked cohesive while still having two pieces that the judges could immediately identify the designer. 
For Team Unity, the judges went back to the pitch.  This is another thing that I think is important less for what they said, that for what it means.  The judges overall didn't like the collection.  So they went back to the pitch and compared.  If they had loved the collection, they certainly would have mentioned that it didn't match the pitch, and if you were actually pitching Large Department Store, you probably want to adhere closer to the pitch, but in the end, they talked about the pitch because they didn't like it. 
As for the trick questions of who should win and who should go, look, in the real world, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your team is really useful.  One the runway, first of all, it's a trick question.  They have awarded wins to people who no one suggested, and sent home people no one suggested.  So, while yes, your team loyalty is at an end here, and you should say what you think, there's also no value to saying something you can't live with, since it won't save you.  And no, they have never let anyone get away with no saying anyone, and also, if at this point you can't identify a team weakness of some sort, you have problems.  
And well, Tim, I have to disagree with you a smidge.  It is not unprecedented for someone to say, if this is what you didn't like, you should send me home.  In fact it happened in the very first season.  It has also happened since, usually with folks saying, well, if dress A is your least favorite, you should probably send me home.  Sure, it has often been uttered with less reluctance than Alex.  But I think Alex realized that he had loved his dress, and been a part of both the pitch and the fabric selection, so he was just as much at fault as any of the others if that turned out to be what they disliked most.  
Here's hoping the harmoniousness of the contestants continues on.  

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