The week's episode of "Project Runway" once again had teams. And we'll just gloss right over the apparent "first" of doing a pop-up with a window display (yes, apparently we are just supposed to pretend the first season didn't happen) or the apparent surprise that people had that New Yorkers would take a fashion window display seriously. Sure, sure. That's surprising. And let's focus on the red team. Now, "Project Runway" teams are of course real life things, even if they are also reality show things. You get put on teams with people in real life. And those team members have pre-existing relationships, both good and bad, and that - particularly in a three person team, has a huge impact on dynamics. And when your team only has to last for a day*, you often figure, it's not worth trying to reset relationships, let's work hard and hope we all make it through.
And, whether on a group project in school or in work, it is one of terribly unfair things that there are often people who do less work, and sometimes because they did less work, the work that they did was better. Now look, I imagine Erin and Derek were a little surprised when they watched the episode. I imagine in their heads, they were super simpatico and have really similar styles - both as far as aesthetic and work style (ie lots of breaks and snacks). And so they viewed Cornelius's constant worry as his way, not as a warning sign that he could see issues with the fact they they had no color to break up the relentless red, not that they had a coat and a dress and nothing else even though they needed three outfits. Not that he knew if they ended up in the bottom they were both going to pick him to go home. And they heard Tim tell the neutral team to amp it up and tell them their choice was bold and did they have any other fabric and somehow thought Erin using Cornelius's skirt meant they were off the hook and not, that they were in trouble but since they had no fabric Tim had little other suggestion as to how they could fix it.
So, they were probably surprised to see that they came off as team slackers who were mean to their team member. And look, sure, reality show edits can be unkind, but in this case, I suspect it was pretty fair. Yes, they amped up the giggling and the snacking, but in the end, one person made an outfit and a half, after being overridden for every suggestion, and two people didn't. The neutrals team also had two friends and a third, but they at least showed Jenni saying I should probably go tell Mah-Jing so he doesn't think we're having secret meetings, which was not great, but at least an acknowledgment that as a three person team, we should try to keep everyone in the loop.
And as the judges said, we're in the place now where perfectly fine stuff gets you sent home, and so Cornelius' pleated skirt wasn't terrible, it just wasn't great. And the fact that he had to make a second skirt because his teammate took his first skirt went to make his teammate's outfit look good, is a factor, but still means that his outfit was the worst of the three. Personally, I would have sent Derek home, even though I had been interested in some of his stuff, but that basic red - that he called punk rock - oof.
But in the end they sent home Cornelius putting him in the unenviable position of being penalized for the very thing he had been trying to warn his teammates about all along. And honestly I found Mah-Jing's sitting between them while the judges deliberated amusing. He knew Cornelius was right, but I think recognized that nothing good would come of the things they were going to say in that moment.
I have mixed feelings about the use of the Tim Gunn save. I felt that Cornelius should not go home yet. But I'm not sure that Cornelius is who I expect to see in the finals, and so I may have held on to it, were I Tim.
*"Project Runway"s definition of a day is different from ours.