Project Runway

So tonight is the main event – the much-awaited debut of Project Runway on Lifetime. It’s been over a year since we last saw Heidi & Co. strut down the runway, and a lot has happened in the interim. Lawsuits, network changes, coast changes. The show is now in LA instead of New York, it’s on Lifetime instead of Bravo, and the production company that created it is no longer a part of its production.

And I’m worried.

My reaction when I first heard that the show was changing networks was one of contempt; in fact, my Lifetime-bashing jokes were the source of my first Great Commenter Revolt (you’re not a real blogger until the commenters turn on you, kids!). But Richard Lawson, one of my favorite bloggers, crystallized my continuing apprehension over the show’s move. Lifetime and Bravo traffic in fundamentally different ideas and subcultures; Bravo is sleek and snarky and self-aware, Lifetime is more heavy-handed and sentimental.

And my anxiety over this switch is only bolstered by the promo commercials that Lifetime is running for the new season: they’re emotionally wrought testimonials by contestants about how designing is their life’s dream, and they’re bathed in slow-motion and soft light. I don’t want my Project Runway to be sappy and friendly and nice! I want sneering, crap-talking and snickering. That was always one of the show’s greatest assets: it was smart and snappy instead of dumb and slow like so many other reality competitions.

And I’m also worried because, as Lawson points out, the last season of PR on Bravo wasn’t that spectacular. After Christian Siriano won, everything was sort of downhill – the contestants were too obviously aware of what archetypal character that they desired to play, and the clothes, with rare exception, were just not particularly fantastic. So if even a hip network like Bravo can’t sustain something as fantastic as Project Runway forever, what chance does Lifetime, Bravo’s decidedly less cool aunt from the suburbs, really have?

And then there’s the issue of the show’s physical location. Los Angeles and New York City are simply NOT comparable, when speaking of fashion authenticity. I can’t imagine Tim Gunn gadding about in Hollywood, but he and the show’s other denizens seem so perfect against the backdrop of New York. Moving the show is a further step into the mainstream middle-brow culture of America, and sadly, that culture is not one that embraces high fashion. There’s nothing wrong with being middle-brow in general, but it doesn’t work for this type of show.

I still have hope, though. I love this show so much that I have to. In college, we used to play drinking games while we watched it every week (if Tim Gunn says “make it work,” take a drink! If someone does a Tim Gunn impersonation, finish your drink!), and it was the first show that I ever recapped. It’s such a gleefully intelligent, sleek show in a TV lineup of almost endless drivel (some of which I also recap) that it would be a shame to lose it to mediocrity. So I’ll be watching tonight (on DVR, after Real Housewives of Atlanta) and recapping it (which will be published on Monday – unfortunately, both shows air at exactly the same time, and there’s no way for me to recap them simultaneously for Friday), and hopefully this will all turn out better than I fear. But until then, I’m prepared for the worst.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • tadpolenyc

    i have the exact same fear. i’m not happy about the move to la and lifetime. at all. if tonight’s show is filled with sob stories involving triumphing over adversity and cheesy montages, i will SCREAM. it’s all on you, tim gunn. you’re my only hope.

  • sandeyes

    I love this show so much that I am just going to cross my finger, hold my breath and hope that it is still fabulous!!!

  • cherish

    I swear the last season ending (aka winner) was Bravo’s attempt at sabotaging the show before passing it along…. sigh

  • Sue

    I am definitely watching tonight and already have my DVR set! I’m also looking forward to watching the Project Runway All-Star Challenge, too, which is on for the two hours before the season debut!

  • Rashmi

    Wow has it been a year gap already!! time does fly, doesn’t it? Well, I’m glad I upgraded my Dish Network programs this morning as I now have both Lifetime and AMC. wuhuuu!! can’t miss Project Runway and my favorite series MAD MEN.

    I think it might be a nice change from nyc to LA. I heard many celebrities like Nicole kidman and christina aguilera are guests on the show. I’m positive and hopeful. As long as they bring “good” budding designers who can make “good” clothes, I don’t care which channel airs the show. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

    on another note, did you guys watch MAD MEN? Amanda, you should blog about MAD MEN too :)

  • @Rashmi I would love to blog about Mad Men, I’ve heard such fantastic things, but I have to catch up! I have the dvds, I just need to set aside a weekend to watch ’em. So maybe next season!

  • Elaine

    I watched the all star show (most of it—2 hours was a bit much) and that was entertaining enough. But the new cast??egh. annoying, obnoxious, strange, etc. Of course I love Heidi and will continue to check out a minute of each episode to see her outfits and hair- but otherwise, PR lost me last season and they don’t look like they’re getting me back.

  • not missin’ pr anymore

    Project Runway’s new season premiere was great! And the nauseating Fashion Show was a clear sign that Bravo isn’t nearly as “sleek, snarky, and self-aware” as some might think it to be.

  • Jecy

    WHAT AN AWESOME PREMIERE! I love the versatility and personalities. Why do we need cookie cutter designers that are all in the same in experience and taste? I think that is what sets PR apart from any other Fashion reality show on t.v. I think the move to L.A is awesome and so close to home! L.A has just enough as N.Y has to boast about with Red Carpet Premiers that N.Y designers love to be on and L.A designers that are discovered! FIDM being the new local is totally cool and I was thinking of applying there this fall! The lofts and the sunset scences, the proof of talent, the stress and all that comes into these challenges is what I know will make me come back for more! I have been a fan since forever and I know that I will be a fan no matter what channel or who’s on it!