Project Runway: Enough

My PR recaps started as a fun writing exercise. In Season 9 – three+ seasons, two All-Stars, and almost exactly two years ago – I was aggravated with the limitations moderated into the TWoP message board, so I thought I’d see if I could do whole recaps. I played with it as time went on: given a limited time, can I convey some information that goes beyond Project Runway (the amazing 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, a New Yorker cover capturing the art of fashion updates, unicorns, marriage equality), or even a theme for the season (art vs commerce, the use of narrative in “reality” tv)? It was, for a time, fun.

It’s not fun anymore. PR has become downright offensive to me.

I’ve been telling myself, it’s ok, I’m ridiculing them, exposing the artifice for what it is. But who am I kidding: there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and by posting links and such, I’m supporting, however obscurely, something I’ve come to despise.

The final turning point came last night when they aired Ken saying, “I need a gun.” Yep, when all else fails, trot out a Scary Black Man. They just put Howard University’s “Do I Look Suspicious? ” campaign out of business (addendum: this is not in any way to defend Ken’s obnoxious behavior). This follows the Week of the Scary Russian. Is the Republican National Committee a sponsor? To add insult to injury, in the preview there’s Tim “I Used to Be a Hero But Now Will Pimp Anything For Heidi” Gunn in a camouflage-patterned business suit talking about “glamping,” and I don’t even want to know what the gather-round tears are about.

I’ve had enough.

I love competitive reality TV (I even included a nod to the genre in my final paper for my Fiction of Relationship class) in spite of the artifice that’s part of the entire genre; I like comparing my impressions with that of the experts, and I frequently learn something. I’ve learned a lot – I knew nothing about fashion before PR – from the Bravo years (and I still learn from Top Chef). When done right, RTV can be an entertaining introduction to a new field: “Oh, that’s what godet/rubbing seconds/spherification means.”

I’ll admit I’m also fascinated, in a sick way, by what these shows have now become (planned dramas), and the underlying reason: reality is boring. People want story. And the mass market wants stories they already know: poor kid makes good. Pride goes before a fall. A hero, a villain. Find a way to cram in some yogurt or cars, pre-select a bland winner whose work fits some current marketing niche, and you’ve got Heidi too busy counting her money to care about what some obscure blogger says.

But even car wrecks lose their fascination if you watch them long enough, especially when the car wrecks are choreographed to provide maximum gore. Enough.

I’ll miss many aspects of recapping. I’ve become very fond of TBone from Blogging Project Runway, and of course my small band of regular commentors. I’ll miss the challenge of finding something to care about in an episode, a challenge that has grown every season. I may still dive into obscure topics like unicorns or the original Aunt Jemima or the wolf pack mentality when so inspired; penny-ante research is my recreation. And I’m not giving up reality TV entirely; I’ll see you for Top Chef New Orleans in October, and either Zin or I will be around for The Sing-Off later in the year. And of course I have a blast with literature: I smacked down Madame Bovary (the character, not the book, which is hilarious) and Zadie Smith in the same week, and once in a while I even stumble across a highly intelligent zombie novel for people who hate zombie novels.

But no more Project Runway recaps. I’ve had enough.

20 responses to “Project Runway: Enough

  1. Hi Karen,

    I agree with you and was whispering the exact same words “I quit” to myself after watching episode 5. It was a perfect waste of time and effort. Thanks for all of your wonderful and thoughtful recaps over the seasons. I’ve loved them and the fun they brought. Won’t it be wonderful to find new positive writing outlets?

    Be well, happy and joyful,

  2. I completely understand. The best thing about PR this season and last has been your recaps. This season is just ridiculous. I couldn’t believe the gun comment, either. Loved the Madame Bovary post. Makes me want to reread it! πŸ™‚

    • Well, any day that sees someone wanting to read something is a good day!

      I’m beginning to appreciate more and more Jerry Seinfeld’s decision to call it quits before decay set in.

  3. Hear you loud and clear. I dropped off in the middle of last season but hopes of a better season pulled me back in. Oh well…I’m hoping soon to do some other things with my blog other than Project Runway. All the best to you.

    • Thanks, Suz – the first episode seems to always be promising. Except it turns out anonymous judging isn’t, Tim’s input is what one of my commenters called “tattling,” and the flexible spending option is used against them unless they spend exactly the suggested amount. What if they gave a reality show and no one came? Would they have to give a better show next time?

  4. You’re breaking my heart, Karen, but I completely understand your frustration. Of course, I’ll be with you for your other blogs, but PR won’t be the same without you.

  5. Hi! sorry I never commented before. I think that my habit of watching the show now is so that I can enjoy the recaps, they are much more entertaining. Catch you with Top Chef

    • I know what you mean, Deidre; I start impatiently looking for ericthreethousand‘s recaps on Saturday afternoon. Welcome aboard – it’s kinda weird to pick up a follower because I quit a recap (maybe I should quit more stuff, I might become a media sensation), but I’m not complaining.

  6. Hard to believe the producers could take such a good original idea and keep messing it up. This season is exceptionally fake, loud, and mean. All the added hoopla and trashiness only further dilutes, diminishes the point of the contest. It’s working hard to destroy the faith of anyone who may have followed what once resembled an honest competition.
    So I’ve come to accept that you will sign off on PR re-caps (after a few painful moments holding my breath and kicking my feet) but it’s ok now. I think we’ve all been pretty lucky to have your kind of talent and expert writing to enjoy.
    Delightful, witty, and a real grasp of all the intertwining threads make for such an interesting read. Miss you already.
    It will be just as nice to follow up on your other essays and blogs; so Thanks and wishing you continued successes!

  7. I am very supportive of your decision, but *really* bummed about it at the same time! Your recaps are by far and away my favorites. I’ll have to make it a habit to keep checking in on your blog anyway; your writing is generous, insightful, and thought-provoking. Best wishes!

  8. I understand. Thank you for all the joy you have brought me with your humor and insights. Your PR recaps will be missed in a way whole seasons of PR never were.

  9. I think I’m the only person I know who hasn’t given up on PR, but that’s because I completely ignore the drama b*llsh*t and watch the techniques of the designers. I taught myself how to sew, I was never trained by anyone at all, and I’ve actually learned basic alternative techniques from watching the designers mess with those basic techniques over the years. I’ll continue to watch for that reason, but I’ve never been a fan of RTV, so I can completely understand how someone could be fed up with the whole charade. I’ll miss your recaps!

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