Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dear Project Runway, Make It Work... Or You're Out!

As the current season of Project Runway limps to a close, the general consensus is that this season was not very successful. Much has been made about why this season, which initially had so much promise, devolved into a such an uneven and tedious affair. The easiest criticism to make is the regular absences of both Nina Garcia and Michael Kors on the judging panel. It resulted in some head-scratching wins and eliminations. Since Nina Garcia has already interviewed that she, Kors and Heidi are there for every judging panel in Season 7, the inconsistency should be . And even though it's too late to offer suggestions for the already taped upcoming season, here is a short list of changes I hope the Producers made to avoid the missteps of Season 6.

#1) Specific Challenges - A lot of this season's challenges were just too open-ended. A challenge about Blue? A pregnancy outfit for any occasion? A Red Carpet dress for any occasion? A "model industry outfit" for any occasion? The list goes on and on. With such a short amount of time to design and construct the outfits, I think it hinders the designers more than helps them to have no parameters to the challenges. I think it's harder to judge them too, because there was so little criteria for them to fulfill.

#2) Longer Challenges - there were a lot of one day challenges this season, and I don't think that's a fair amount of time to create something really fantastic and original especially when you're doing these challenges back to back to back all season. At least give them two days! With only a day to make things, mostly just wind up with some nice dresses and disasters that couldn't be fixed, but nothing that really dramatic or shows a design point of view. It doesn't help to have interesting characters on the show, if all their garments are boring and conventional.

#3) Stick to NYC - California was a total bust. It wasn't a horrible idea to experiment with the location. Top Chef goes from city to city each season, and I think it helps that show to move around the country. Not so with Runway. It really is a New York show. Besides the beachware challenge (that went nowhere) this season did nothing to really utilize it's new setting. They could've been anywhere. The only thing that was clear was that they were not in NYC. The rotating celebrity judges L.A. offered really didn't add anything to the conversation. We don't need recognizable guest judges. Just get important people in the industry. If we are using Top Chef as a comparison again, I don't recognize any of the master chefs they bring in for judging each week, but I still understand they know what they're talking about in regard to food (and celebs like Natalie Portman still manage to show up seeking veggies.)

#4) Fix "Models Of The Runway" or Kill It - In it's first episode, I thought "Models" could've been a really interesting behind the scenes look at the experience of the models on the show. It never followed through on the promise though. The models had no challenges of their own when they were away from the runway and the show was incredibly boring. There are two widely known reality competition shows already out there - America's Next Top Model and Make Me A Supermodel. Steal some format ideas from them. Give the girls something to DO. Either that, or eliminate the whole "models, this is a competition for you too" angle of the show. It's always been under-served and with the designers picking the models, they have very little of their fate in their own hands. I appreciate that Lifetime was trying to come up with something new, but this show had some serious design flaws. Pun Intended.

So hopefully these problems will be addressed in the next season. If the mantra is true that one day you're in and the next day you're out. Hopefully the reverse is true as well. Perhaps with this season Project Runway is out, but next season it can be In again.

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