Since we all know that life is essentially high school writ large, and that reality TV is essentially life writ small, it's fair to say that reality TV is basically high school with grownups on TV.
Never was that more evident than this particular installment of Project Runway. We started with the Mean Girls (Gretchen, Ivy, and, to a lesser extent, Valerie) accepting the artsy stoner girl (April) with a rather conspicuous display of team spirit. There were lots of hugs, a huge welcome note on the chalk board in bubble letters, and some sort of wreath of carnations that spelled out her name on her bed. (Did they think she had just won the Belmont?)
April, for her part, looked mildly nonplussed.
Later in the show the outcast (Michael C.) and the freak (Mondo) will realize that they have much more in common than they initially thought and come together to form some sort of super geek squad that is basically begging to be turned into a John Hughes film. (Featuring Turtle from Entourage as Michael C. and Elijah Wood as Mondo.)
On the runway, Heidi is wearing something from the MC Hammer/Aladdin collection that puzzles me, but why get into it? She tells the gang that they'll be meeting a very special guest for brunch at the marina. After two seasons of budget cuts, we already know that the “very special guest” is just going to be one of the regulars, perhaps in disguise.
Indeed, it's Tim Gunn standing next to a Michael Kors wax figure. Oh wait, that is actually Kors.
The challenge is for the designers to create a resort wear look that illustrates their point of view as a designer.
Mondo grumbles over this. He’s never been to a resort. “I wake up late and walk around in my T-shirt and underwear. That’s resort wear for me,” he sighs.
I’m not buying Mondo’s “I’m just a regular dude” bit for a second. We all know that Mondo has an Excel program that color coordinates his jammies based on days of the week and the seasonal palate, so why pretend to be a stained t-shirt scratching his junk kinda guy?
April, meanwhile, hears resort and immediately thinks sexy, black, and risqué. “She’s taking this resort vacation to this asylum,” she says of her fantasy girl. Alrighty then.
Casanova takes this challenge, like every other one, as a personal affront.
“This challenge is very Michael Kors. This is not my challenge,” he says. (Casanova's ideal challenge would be the "slutty grandma" look, but that is a very specialized challenge and he shouldn't hold his breath.)
Off to Mood. Tim Gunn commiserates with the always sharp French bulldog Swatch, the only one who truly understands him. And back to the studio.
Everyone commences work until Tim Gunn comes in, holding the velvet tassel bag of doom.
The gang knew this resort challenge was a little too easy.
Yup, the designers will be working in teams, with each partner acting as the other’s “personal sample room.” But here’s the twist: They’ll be judged on the piece they designed, not the piece they tailored. In other words, if your partner can’t stitch, you’re in a ditch. Immediately, 9 designers begin praying that they’re not paired with Michael C.
The partnerships go like this:
Valerie and Andy
April and Christopher
Casanova and Gretchen
Ivy and Michael D.
Michael C and … Mondo.
Mondo is pissed. He starts being all snippy and condescending to Michael C.
“Your construction is awful and the fact is, you have immunity,” he grumps.
But Michael C. has adopted the sweet learned helplessness of an abused dog. He remains so eager to please, so inquisitive and good-natured, that Mondo finally breaks.
“Sorry I was being such a bitch,” Mondo says later. “I have faith in you.”
(Elijah would KILL that scene.)
Now they are besties—arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders in solidarity. Soon Michael C. will be wearing jaunty little caps, bow ties, and color-coordinating his jammies, too—just you wait.
Frankly, the whole Mondo/Michael C. drama was just a misdirection. The real dramah is taking place stage left with Ivy and her very own illiterate man slave, Michael D.
I really don’t know who to blame for the flaming debacle that is Ivy and Michael D.
Yes, Ivy is bossy. Yes, she has an inflated sense of her own talent. Yes, she can bore a hole in your very soul with a single, well-placed glare.
But Michael D. is not exactly a superstar, now is he? He’s “20 percent” capable of designing a pair of paints? A pair of pants? And he actually had the nerve to accuse Ivy of designing something bland, when she had dumbed down her look to accommodate his remedial sewing skills?
That being said, when hasn’t Ivy designed something bland? She really wasn’t kidding when she said she was inspired by hospital gowns and curtains after her fainting spell. If April is designing the outfit the fierce bitch wears en route to the asylum, Ivy is content to design the regulation hospital gown she is issued when she gets there.
So Team Michael D. . . sort of.
Gretchen and Casanova have their own hilarious dynamic, with Gretchen doing the designer’s equivalent of shouting at a foreign person: She’s making sketches so large that Casanova could see them from Puerto Rico.
“She treat me like a retard,” says Casanova.
It’s not just you, darling.
Tim announces that another “esteemed guest” is coming to evaluate their designs. Who could it be? Georgio Armani? Tom Ford? Marc Jacobs?
Uh, it’s Michael Kors again. Why do they fool me every time?!?
His Royal Orangeness goes around and actually offers some very solid critiques.
In particular, he blasts Valerie for her color palate and tells Ivy that her print is “not taking me to the resort.” Take heed, Ivy! (Spoiler alert: She doesn’t.)
Ten minutes before runway, Tim Gunn tells the designers that they can take possession of their own designs.
Michael D. can not jump away from his sewing machine fast enough. Ivy steps in to immediately fix his top stitching and his stay stitching and his whatever-other-kind-of-stitching he screwed up.
Today’s very special guest judge is. . .Nina Garcia! Just kidding. It’s “stylish American actress Kristen Bell.” (Xoxo, bitches.)
Nothing truly inspiring comes down the runway. I did sort of dig April’s psycho baby doll coverup, although how Kristen Bell thinks it’s “wearable” is beyond me.
I also liked Christopher’s news-printy top with the khaki bermuda shorts. And Michael C’s “glammypuss” halter top with palazzo pants is surprisingly less tacky on the runway than I expected—maybe it’s the brown leather belt?
Besides that, a big pile of meh. The judges may’ve loved Andy’s bathing suit and coverup, but to me it looked like something from the Holly Madison collection at Fredericks of Hollywood.
The less said about Mondo’s look the better, although I suspect that if Mondo was an 11-year-old girl this is exactly how’d he dress.
Ivy and Casanova could do a special fashion show together for people who are offended by color, point of view, and style.
So. . .the top 3 are April, Andy, and Michael D.
And the bottom 3 are Ivy, Casanova, and Mondo.
You see what they did there? Michael D is on TOP and Ivy is on the BOTTOM. Producer manipulation for the win, people!
To pick up on last week’s theme, the phrase “throw under the bus” is like some sort of virus—or a potato chip maybe. You can’t say it just once.
So Ivy does, indeed, throw Michael D. under the bus.
And then Heidi tries to break the world record for an Austrian supermodel using the phrase “throw under the bus” the most times in 30 seconds (I counted 7) and then Kristen Bell, wanting to be one of the cool kids (it’s high school, remember?) also agrees that Ivy “threw Michael under the bus” and then Nina Garcia, trying on the quaint American idiom for size, also says it and it’s a freaking bus throwing orgy.
All I know is, if your name is Michael on this show, you WILL be thrown under the bus, so watch your back, Michael Kors!
April wins—yay! This is so exactly like when Molly Ringwald designed her own dress in Pretty in Pink and was the coolest most stylish girl at the prom!
And it comes down to Ivy vs. Casanova.
I really wanted Casanova to stay, because he brings the funny and has had a few hits (to go along with a whole lotta misses.)
But it’s Casanova’s time to go. They do a little Casanova’s greatest hits montage, because he’s such a wag, and then he pretends to hang himself on the door of the green room with one of his scarfs, which is just another one of his waggish moments for the finale montage.
And the truth is, I’ve never seen a contestant less upset about going home. Casanova is totally over it. Has been, frankly, since day one. It’s like he never realized there’d be challenges—and judging!
“I grabbed one ball off New York and New York grabbed one of mine,” says Casanova. (Laugh track!)
To keep my (now tortured) high school metaphor going, Casanova was the foreign exchange student who came for a semester, showed the boys how to rock a scarf, made a few good friends, and realized he much preferred it at home.