couchsurfing Project Runway Canada – Episode 1
I have been anticipating this show for months and I am not above blogging a weekly redux, so you are warned – Tuesdays will be PRC-centric for the next twelve weeks. Despite the fact that I do not have cable, I am lucky to have many friends who have offered to let me watch the show with them – and Anita let me take up space on her couch for the premiere.
For those of you who are not watching on schedule, I have hidden the spoilers after the break…
If you have been reading Final Fashion carefully, you will remember that I was an applicant and went through a couple levels of auditions but failed to be chosen. After watching the first show and reading this article, I can say that I am truly relieved to be couchsurfing Project Runway instead of participating. Actually, I feel like I have dodged a dozen bullets. I may not be on TV but my soul is whole… and I get to be entertained instead of played.
This show is brutal! The art of reality television seems to be a process of turning people into puppets. A highly secretive and scripted cohort of hosts and judges kick the dignity out of twelve identities, activate each designer’s doubts and delusions and scratch their sensitivities. It is like the designers are animals in some kind of crazy sketch and sew rodeo. Knowing that I narrowly escaped being one of them fills me with far more empathy than I have ever felt for TV show contestants – though it actually enhances my perverse enjoyment. It seems I am just another twenty-first century Roman watching heads roll in the Colosseum of cable television.
As if television is not brutal enough, Project Runway Canada includes a blog element with apparently unmoderated comments. Anonymous commenters are not known for tact and diplomacy and I expect that these blogs will quickly combust into flamewars which will likely be more annoying than interesting. Still, the lack of filtration gives us a clue to the reputations of the designers and the effects of their charisma on viewers.
The blogs themselves are also apparently unedited or unfiltered and for that reason help us get to know the characters better than the show can. They confirm what we already know – that designers are almost all flamboyantly semi-literate, exited when they are excited, defiant when they are definite, and often incomprehensible. The exception was surprising – Carly demonstrated a use of paragraphs and spell check. Besides that, her post was engaging and gave a better sense of her character than was possible to see on television. Who says the kids today can not write?
It is early days but I think the leading designers in terms of skill are already apparent. Lucian and Shernett are capable of incredible detail even under tight deadlines, and Marie Genevieve demonstrated a confident design vision that really stood out in the first challenge. It is not fair to dismiss the abilities of any of these designers considering the circumstances, but some are clearly not capable of performing with skill under scrutiny and seemed to be cast to create an element of fiasco.
Of the judges, Shawn Hewson and Rita Silvan both come across as true to their character, and so far seem to be able to tell when their comments are subjective and when they are objective, with an understanding that being able to evaluate design requires both taste and knowledge.
Brian Bailey in the mentor role fails to elicit any sort of reaction which is a shame considering he will inevitably be compared to the adorable Tim Gunn. Certainly he is one of Canada’s more prominent designers but beyond his peculiar mustache I can not recognize a single defining personality trait. Iman as the host manages to be both enigmatic and robotic in a way that inspires awe and allegiance.
Everything must be taken with several shakes of salt, remember this is entertainment first. What did you think of the show?