Friday, October 28, 2011

It Girl Happens: The Project Runway Finale recap

Final score:

Inspiration: 1
Perspiration: 0

The fact that Anya won Project Runway is really revealing, right?

First, Tim Gunn went to visit her in Trinidad to check on her progress and her progress was exactly, well, zero. (Except, possibly, a typewriter filled with the words: “All work and no play makes Anya a dull girl” over and over again.)

Tim was so flummoxed by this that he went back to New York and blabbed to Heidi Klum about it:
“Girlfriend, I went into her studio and there was just an empty rack where her collection was supposed to be.”
Shut the haustür!”

Then she showed her three piece collection—supposedly the apex of her work, mind you— and only one of the three pieces wowed the judges, so she simply junked the other two.

Then she went to Mood with the Tim Gunn bonus $500 and utilized the finely honed strategy of: “Whatever pops out at me, I buy.”

Then she essentially turned her Tim Gunn consultation into a concession speech (“Between you and I , I had a very rewarding experience but I know it’s not my best work. . .”) 
Then she created several new looks in 2 days and was literally sewing her grand finale dress on her model moments before Lincoln Center, much to Joshua’s continued dismay.

And then she. . .well, God damn it if she didn’t win Project Runway.

Oh and p.s.  . . she also won Fan Favorite, which I easily could’ve overlooked, since Lifetime chose to announce this major development in a tiny crawl that ran under the show. (I’ve trained myself to not read the Lifetime crawl, since they usually say things like “Coming Up Next: Army Wives!”)

How do you explain it? Especially when Joshua, Kimberly, and especially Viktor worked so hard, put in so much effort, planned so far ahead?

Bottom line: Life is unfair.

Anya may have had the least experience, she may have put in the least sweat equity, she may have the weakest construction skills, but she has that unmistakable thing called “It”—and so she wins (at life).

Because not only was her line gorgeous—it was. (That first dress was staggering, to borrow a Gunn-ism.) But the judges were right: She created a fantasy. I want to be that easy, breezy, Caribbean girl who wears flowy print dresses and walks barefoot in the sand whilst eating coconuts with my hottie fisherman boyfriend and listening to a steel drum band.
Or, as I put in my notes: “I so want to lose 20 pounds, 2 bra sizes, and live in Anya’s clothes!”

Okay, since I’ve devoted half this blog to wonders of Anya, let’s go over the other designers, huh?

We’ll start with Viktor. I’m glad he went out with at least one Sassy Catch Phrase That Will Never Catch On ™:

“Oh my Lord of the Rings!”

Followed shortly by another Sassy Catch Phrase That Got Screwed Up Midway So He Just Kinda Went With It ™:

“You gotta grab the handles right now. You gotta stir the . . . motorcycle!”

But I give the lad tons of credit for scrapping that créped, tiered grey dress that the judges (and I) loved—“It was too messy,” he said—in favor of some quilted black pants and a black top.
Viktor has an almost preternatural confidence in his own abilities. The man has balls. (Sorry, Anthony Ryan.) It will serve him well going forward.

As for his collection? I actually thought it was stunning, even the see-through looks that the judges were so meh on.
(Transparency, apparently, is a good thing in government, but not so much on the runway.)
If it were up to me, Viktor and Anya would've been last two standing, but it wasn’t up to me, now was it?

Next Kimberly.
I give the girl mad props for sticking to her Gunn(s) on the roped earrings and bracelets. That was a huge inspiration for her work and I personally liked them. However, her collection, which Michael Kors said was all about “exuberance, glamour and kickass attitude,” just didn’t move me. (He also said that her black shimmery gown was “killer diller.” I sooo want that phrase to make a comeback.)
That shiny, clingy sky blue dress? Just no. That generic tank top and cargo pants look with the “surprise! I’m a slut!” backless component? Wrong again.
I did, however, really love her bow-tied ivory top and high-waisted pant combo and, like Heidi, would liked to have seen more in that direction.

Finally,  Joshua:
Good lord people, those lime green shorts with the draw strings and the camel toe had no alibi. Seriously. . . I can’t even. . . (Nina claimed that she didn’t like them on the runway, but upon further reflection decided they were very editorial. Go with your gut, Nina.)
But I do kinda sorta get Joshua’s collection. It’s tackiness elevated to art.  . . or art filtered through tackiness or. . .something like that.
And I love how darling and conservative his father is. (He’s just got to be an orthodontist, right?) Puts Josh in perspective. Also, still hoping to see “Sibling Revelry” in production by this summer.

Here’s a few final thoughts on the show in general:

I almost felt sorry for Anthony Ryan, sittin’ there, minding his own business, thinking he had this “Fan Favorite” thing wrapped up. Sorry Anthony Ryan—left dangling again.

Corinne Bailey Rae in the house! Corinne Bailey Rae in the house! Squee! (“Put Your Records On” is one of my all-time favorite songs and I don’t care who knows it.)

But what the hell was Thomas Jane doing there? Seriously. Anyone. . .?

As long as cameras are involved, Jennifer Love Hewitt would go to the opening of a zipper.

“Although I don’t like his personality, I like Josh’s collection.” –Don’t change, Jay McCarroll, don’t change.

I’ve decided that Tim Gunn’s tendency to turn everything into a breathless collective question—How thrilled are you? How gorgeous was that? How excited are the 5 of us right now?—is his own version of Yoda’s inverted-subject speak. And I love it.

And, there you have it, folks. . .another season of Project Runway in the books.
Congrats to Anya for . . . getting to be Anya.

And thanks to all of you, for sticking with my blog all season. We made fun of the fug, we secretly loved Josh, we girl-crushed hard on Anya, we ugly cried, it became a part of us.  . .

Tune in next week when I start blogging the new season of Top Chef!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Grim Retail: The Project Runway recap

Okay, there’s no way to write this sentence without coming across as insensitive as hell, so I’m just going to spit it out: The key to success on this season’s Project Runway is clearly having a dead loved one.

Remember when Anthony Ryan’s testicular cancer was the show’s big tragedy? Now that seems like small balls compared to the rest of his castmates. (Yeah, I know that “small balls” isn’t actually an idiom, but it would be funny if it was!).

First, his missing testicle was trumped by Josh’s dead mother.
Then, toward the end of the season, we find out that Kimberly lost HER mother when she was just 17.  Damn girl.
Now, in this, the penultimate episode of the show, we discover that both Viktor and Anya have lost their brothers. I mean, what the hell, people?

I guess it’s not that surprising. Inspiration is often born out of tragedy. But four-out-of-four finalists having a deceased loved one? (If there were Project Runway prop bets—Off-Rack-Betting, if you will—I’d say the “four dead loved ones in the finals” bet would yield a big payday.)

Anyway, enough with the doom and gloom. It’s The Mixed Up Files of Mr. Timothy Gunn week on Project Runway, always a treat.

First he heads out to White Plains, Maryland. (I would like to point out at this moment that I live in Maryland. In fact, I am the editor of the region’s largest monthly magazine. . .and yet I have no freakin’ clue where White Plains is. . . Hold please. . .The Google box says it is in Charles County, near Waldorf. Some serious Blair Witch Project shit out there.)

So I love how Project Runway always embraces the obvious in their pre-home-visit montages. For Kimberly’s rustic home, we see a goat. For Anya’s Caribbean home, we see coconuts and fish being cleaned.  If any of the designers lived in Alaska, we’d definitely see some moose and Sarah Palin. Texas? An electric chair.

Turns out, Kimberly is a transplant from pre-hipster Brooklyn so she wants to pay homage to her old ’hood by doing clothing for the “transformed urban girl.” A huge part of this line is Salt-n-Pepa style giant earrings and bracelets. I only mention this because it comes into play later.

Then we meet Kimberly’s sister and her best friends and they are a lively cheerful bunch that I would very much like to hang out with (but not enough to go to White Plains, Maryland, mind you.)

Next, to Trinidad to meet up with Anya.
 . . .Cue the coconuts, fish, and beaches. (The fact that they managed to not play Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen” during this montage showed remarkable restraint.)

We meet Anya’s kid brother Yves, who is, like, 15 going on 45. “I’m glad that people now see the talent, more than just the beauty,” he says of his sister. Make that kid the Caribbean spokesperson for NOW—stat!

Then we hear the sad story of Pilar, her brother who died at 18. Anya actually has a tattoo of his name on her forearm. Sigh.

Off to her studio to see her “progress.” And I put progress in quotes, because she hasn’t “made any.”
She basically just went shopping. She’s got her fabrics and. . .that’s it.
(This would be like if I had a 10,000 word article due and all I did was buy a dictionary.)

“Where are the garments?” Tim asks, not getting how dire the situation is.

And what follows is one of the most awkward critiques in the history of the show, with Anya hemming and hawing out a response.  (Actually, some real hemming might’ve done her some good. . .)

“Where I’m not so clear is shapes and, you know, the actual garments. I’m a little bit behind in terms of construction,” she finally spits out.

(Also, the Miami Dolphins are a “little bit behind” in the NFC East and Newt Gingrich is a “little bit behind” in the Republican primary polls.)

Tim raises his eyebrows in that classic Tim way and basically tells Anya to get her shit together.
“It’s time,” he says. “And you don’t have a lot of it.”

Next up, New York to meet Viktor and his rosy-cheeked,  slightly square, rugby-shirt sporting beau, David. (Not what I was expecting AT ALL.)

Viktor lives on the fifth floor of a walkup.
“Grandpa needs a rest,” Tim says, after he schleps up the stairs. Heh.

So, as mentioned, Viktor’s collection is dedicated to HIS dead brother. . . (I don’t know how much more of this I can take. )

Tim likes it a lot, especially Viktor’s tacky-as-hell, Grand Ole Opry meets Evel Knievel white leather jacket (just me?).

Then he gives Viktor what proves to be bad advice: He tells him that the jacket alone is not a wow moment, he needs to create another showstopping look to go under the jacket. (Later, Heidi, MK, and Nina are all: Yeah, a black t-shirt and a pair of leggings would’ve done the trick. )

Next stop: Lunch with Joshua and his gorgeous sis McKenzie.  So yes, if you’re playing the home game, his sister’s name is McKenzie McKinley. WTF, mom and dad? (Thank you, JED for that observation.) (By the way, I smell a reality show—Sibling Revelry?— for those crazy raven-haired kids in the not-so-distant future. )
Also, when Josh was younger, he was a jock, and had long hair and looked like Apolo Ohno. So there's that.

Josh’s critique is hilariously awful.
Tim Gunn basically hates everything.
The print is “gimmicky”
The skirt is “sherbety”(“I do love a good sherbet,” Josh says. “But do you really want to wear it?” Tim counters.)
In case Tim wasn’t perfectly clear earlier, the print is “one of the homeliest textiles I’ve ever seen in my life. “
The dress “makes me want to weep.”
(But besides that, how’d you like the boat ride, Captain Ahab?)

Josh responds to this news in comically over-the-top fashion (I actually LOLed when he screamed during his confession.)

“I mean, I’m crazy right now,” he says. “This print is the major, major focus of this collection.”

Moving right along: Three weeks later, everyone reconvenes at the gorgeous penthouse suite of the Hudson Hotel in New York.
It is, to borrow a Joshism, “major.”

(By the way, how is it that Christian Soriano’s “fierce” became a catch phrase that swept the nation, but Josh can’t get “major” to stick? Discuss among yourselves.)

The contestants need to show their 3 most representative looks to see who makes it to Bryant Park.

To the studio, where Viktor is wielding his white leather jacket like a weapon of mass intimidation. It’s working.

“That jacket is major,” Josh sighs anxiously.

Tim comes in
He basically likes Josh’s collection but isn’t totally sure who his customer is.
He wants to marry Viktor’s looks and have their babies.
He’s passionate about Kimberly’s “edgy Brooklyn urbanite” but feels her looks are a bit scattered.
Then he makes his way over to Anya, and basically tells her  to surrender all hope. You see, she has retreated to her comfort zone and there’s not a wow moment in the bunch.

Anya’s little lower lip begins to tremble and I just want to hug her. (And this is BEFORE I found out that she was the victim of a sex tape scandal! Why am I always the last one to know these things?)

Whoa! Could Anya actually be the one who doesn’t make it to Fashion Week? Oh, the dramah.

Runway day. No guest judges: Just the Original 3, as it should be. At this point, do I really care what some random B-Actress-With-a-Clothing-Line has to say about things?

Let’s go through the collections:
What I thought: I must say, I loved it. Okay, I hated the “Johnny Bravo” jacket, but loved the grey tone sheer dress that went under it. And his mirrored top was both original and way cool. For once, a little sass from him might have actually been justified. (And, of course, there was not a double air snap or an “I do what I do” to be found.)
What the judges thought: Mostly they loved it, but felt that he needing some better editing. “We told you to turn up the volume, but you didn’t have to go all way,” MK says. (Schizophrenic much?)

What I thought: Yes, her one amber striped dress was pure perfection. But the bathing suit and the gown were both seriously meh. I’m gettin’ nervous here.
What the judges thought: Loved the one dress. But the rest was not easy breezy enough. The shoes look like something a bad news anchor would wear. (Side note: Does bad footwear actually affect one’s ability to read the news? Hmmm.) The gown looks tortured. Ruh roh.

What I thought: I hated her bright blue, hot pink and gold color scheme. And that bubble skirt had no alibi. But the shimmery gown was pretty hot.
What the judges thought: They liked the vibe and the point of view, but felt the looks were too heavily accessorized. They think she should lose the roped bracelets and earrings—only the lynchpin for the whole collection!—and MK thought that the cobalt blue pant blending into the cobalt blue shoe created a “club foot,” rarely a desirable look.

What I thought: Left to his own devices he. . . put a seatbelt on one of his girls, did a semi-dull little black dress, and a slutty in the front, sluttier in the back gown. All in all, worth moving on, but hardly spectacular.
What the judges thought: Hated his dress in the back, but loved the tailoring on his jacket and his overall styling. Ironically, Mr. I Never Met a Feather Boa or Leather Corsage I Didn’t Like actually did the best job accessorizing out of the bunch.

The general consensus is the boys stepped it up and the girls

Moment of truth:
Joshua you are. . .showing at Lincoln Center!
(“It’s major!”)

Viktor you are. . .in!

So it’s down to Kimberly and Anya.

Kimberly you are . . .showing at NY Fashion Week!

Does this mean Anya is going home? I don’t know if the show is getting overly predictable or Heidi’s poker face is not what it used to be but somehow I was never truly worried.  (Were you?)

Aaaaand Anya. . .is in as well!

So Anya goes back stage and Joshua is just so glad that the four of them get to advance together.  It’s so beautiful that they went through this process together and they get to stay together for their final moment of glory as a foursome.
Ah, who am I trying to kid? He is totally PISSED.

“I’m confused all around,” he says.  “I thought it was going to be 3 of us going..  . . I don’t think Kimberly or Anya’s critiques went that well. I don’t think either of them should be going. This isn’t fuddy duddy dress up.* This is NY Fashion Week. A critique like that I don’t think it worthy of taking it to the main stage.”

But how do you really feel, Josh?

As if to emphasize what a whiny little ingrate Joshua is being, Tim Gunn comes back stage and is positively kvelling.
“So how happy are the five of us?” he gushes.
(Not as happy as you think Tim Gunn).

Next week’s finale is going to be MAJOR.

*No, I have no idea what that means either.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fanning the Flames: The Project Runway recap

Can anyone explain what the heck is going on with the Fan Favorite vote?

 Anthony Ryan is in the lead with—wait for it—48 percent (must’ve been his 9-9-9 plan: 9 patterns, 9 buttons, and 9-inch hem lines).

Anya is nipping at his heels with 45 percent.

Now, I’m no math major, but that leaves a mere 7 percentage points for the rest of the designers to duke it out over. And yes, Josh gets 1 percent; Bert gets 1 percent; Laura gets 1 percent; and poor Kimberly gets 0 percent. (In other words, Kimberly gets the exact same percentage points as Gunnar Deatherage, WHO NEVER MADE IT ON THE SHOW.)

Clearly, something is rotten in the state of  New Amsterdam. These are the kinds of leads that African dictators get in their elections.

But hey, why should I care about ballot stuffing if the producers of the show clearly don’t?

(Also, to the person who cares enough to ballot stuff a fan poll for Project Runway? The phrase “Get a life” was pretty much invented for you.)

So the show starts with Josh bitching about Anya’s lack of construction skills—again.
This will be a motif that runs throughout the entire episode (leading to something of a surprise twist at the end). You can basically assume that, unless I specify otherwise, Josh is off in a corner bitching about Anya’s inability to make a sleeve.

The designers get to go on a little road trip to Governor’s Island—where they’re told to seek inspiration for 3 distinct looks from anything on the island,  not necessarily the GIANT geometric sculptures on display. (It would awesome if one of the designers totally ignored the 800 pound sculptures and instead got their inspiration from a blade of grass. Doesn't happen.)

To Mood they go and, I don’t want to alarm anybody, but OMG, they killed Swatch! Seriously, where has that little fella been the past few weeks?
Ever since the awesome Swatch/Tim GIF went viral (well in my mind at least) he’s been AWOL. (Thank you, Eric, for the GIF, which I can't get to animate because I suck at the Internet.) (Click below if you want to watch it.)

If I don’t see Swatch in next week’s show, I’m putting out a Terrier Alert.

Back at Parsons, Tim breaks out the velvet bag of doom.

Laura literally gasps.

But it’s nothing to fear, just the cavalry, in the form of Bert, Anthony, Olivier, Becky, and some other guy I’ve never seen before. (I kid, I kid. . . it’s Bruce. . I mean Brent. . .I mean, Bryce.)

Kimberly gets to pick first and, thank God she picks Becky, because I don’t think Becky’s self-esteem could take another hit.

Then Viktor picks Olivier, because he could use a dose of Olivier’s patented enthusiasm and spunk.

Laura picks Anthony, hoping to bump up her 1 percent Fan Favorite vote through osmosis.

Anya and Josh are left. One will get saddled with Bryce.

There’s a kind of mock antagonistic moment between them that turns into an actual antagonistic moment (Josh to Anya: “You’re really getting aggressive”) and everyone sees it and it is awkward.

So Anya gets to pick next and she picks Bert, who is all smiles these days. (I’m actually beginning to suspect that his giant shipment of Paxil arrived at some point during the Project Runway shoot.)

Josh gets Bryce, who is picking up on all the bad jujus in the studio.

 “When I left, everybody was loving each other,” he says. “Now you can really feel the tension.”

To wit, Josh is STILL moaning about last week’s challenge: “I just had $20,000 taken away from me by a beauty queen. What was it? The beauty or the talent?”

(Yes, Josh, because a gay man and two straight women are totally seduced by Anya’s quixotic beauty.)

So people are doing what they do.
Anya is creating interesting, sophisticated, wholly original dress shapes that she has no idea how to sew.
Bert, who is helping her with construction, is flummoxed.

Their conversations, and this is just a paraphrase, go something like this:

Anya: You know how you see something in your mind and you have  no idea how to make it and then you start randomly sewing and  it comes out perfectly?

Bert: No.

Josh is adding unnecessary pieces of plastic to his designs, much to the delight of Kimberly, who is watching from her station: “Throw that plastic on. Do it! Do it!” she encourages. For Josh, as always, more is less.

Kimberly is her usual lovably-kooky-heroine-in-a-rom-com mess, designing 35 looks without any clear direction. Becky—in her capacity as the supportive, unlucky-in-love best friend who is always eating ice cream straight from the container—is concerned.

Laura is once again daring Nina to question her taste level with dresses that appear to be fashioned from six-pack-beer rings.

Viktor is having a sourface-off with Olivier.

Runway time.
Zoe Saldana is the special guest judge.

Out come the looks:
Okay, I loved one of Josh’s three looks. Can you guess which one? (Yes. Yes, you all can.)

Yeah, the cream and black mesh cocktail dress, pictured, is stunning—and Josh probably deserved to go to the finals for it alone.
However, I’m with Zoe: The evening gown looks like a metallic toga. And as for the casual look: How anyone could take a 5’9”, 100-pound model and make her look like Wonder Woman’s “before” picture in a Super Heroes Weight Watchers ad is beyond me.

Heidi questions his use of shiny fabric.
“Were you attracted to the lurex because it was nice and shiny?”
“Is that an assumption?” Josh asks archly.
(More like a profoundly obvious statement based on weeks and weeks of indisputable fact.)

Then we have Kimberly, who is inordinately proud of her “scarf outside the coat” look. You see, any Tom, Jane or Harry can put a scarf inside the coat. But this scarf? It goes outside. (This must be what Jonas Salk felt like upon discovering the cure for polio. )

Her metallic mini-dress, however, is great, despite the “goiter on the side.”

But her form-fitting orange top with peek-a-boob opening and metallic goiter-skirt is a bit slutty looking, if you ask me.

The judges no likey and Kimberly starts basically making a concession speech.

“This has been a great experience. I’ve learned so much. And I’m not upset by anything you guys are saying right now,” she lies.
“Are you giving your goodbyes to us right now?” Heidi responds. (The blunt sarcasm of Heidi Klum is an international treasure that truly needs more recognition.)

Next up Laura, with her “hey everybody: CIRCLES!” looks.

Zoe Saldana is impressed that she didn’t place one circle over each breast and another circle over the crotch. (When that’s the nicest thing you can say about a dress. . .)

Laura whipped up a skirt, like, 5 minutes before runway and she ain’t foolin’ anyone.

“It looks like you whipped up that skirt, like, 5 minutes before runway,” Heidi says.

The ironic thing is, I’d actually wear her baggy, crepey, crème brule-colored evening dress (the one all the judges HATED), but I can see that it’s:
a. Not fashion forward
b. Has NOTHING to do with the other two circle-gets-the-square looks. At all.

Next up, Anya:
Not a sleeve or a jacket or a non-flowy pant leg to be found, but three gorgeous, Anya-esque looks, accompanied by perfect styling choices. The black dress, in particular, is a showstopper.

Finally Viktor. Tasteful, wearable, saleable, blah-blah-blah-able.
“That’s how we do,” Viktor snaps, as his looks go down the runway. (A flair-up of his Seasonal Sass Disorder, obviously.)
Everyone lurves his looks, but thinks he needs to “turn up the volume” a bit. (Ya think?)

Now the fun part: Pick the other two designers you’d like to see accompany you to Fashion Week.

Josh picks Viktor and—in what has to qualify as a surprise in light of his nonstop bitching—Anya.

Kimberly picks Anya and Laura. (Girl power, FTW!)

Anya picks Joshua and Viktor.

Laura picks Viktor and Anya.

Viktor picks Josh and Anya.

So can I just say something slightly controversial right now? You know how Heidi is all about how “one or more of you will be out”? And you know how it’s always “one of you” and never “more of you”? Well, this time I think they should’ve just kept the top 3. Because it’s clearly Anya, Viktor and Josh and “the rest.”

And to that end, Kimberly wins the “Professor and Mary-Ann” consolation vote. (It’s a Gilligan’s Island joke,  Josh: Have Bert explain it to you.)
I mean, does anybody really think that Kimberly can win this thing?

So there you have it, folks. Laura, despite dreaming of this moment since she was 8 months old and her mother first lined her crib with the Barney’s catalog, is OUT.

Next week kicks off the finale.

Off to give Gunnar Deatherage my vote on the fan poll.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bird Brains: The Project Runway recap

Remember that old joke about the missing dog poster?

LOST: Dog with 3 legs, castrated; no tail, & only 1 ear, brown color with bad case of mange, blind & almost deaf.  Answers to the name LUCKY

Yeah, that was pretty much Kimberly this week.
First she got paired in the head-to-head challenge against Viktor, who is both a legend in his own mind and, sadly, in actual life.
Then her fabric got a stain on it.
Then she was attacked by a giant cockroach.
Then she sewed through her finger.
Then she burnt her fabric with a glue gun.
The she ugly-cried in the bathroom.
Then she shared the sad story of her mother dying when she was just 17.
Make it stop!!!

But how did it come to this?

Well, the show starts with Heidi telling the “sewtestants” (credit: EddietheDad) that, this week, “we really want you to spread your wings.”

Naturally, they assume skydiving. 
 “What does skydiving have to do with fashion?” one of them muses. (You’d think that would be their first clue that the challenge was, in fact, NOT skydiving-related. No one said this was a pack of mensas.)

“My wings are spread, girl,” Viktor says sassily. Then he adds, inexplicably, “I’m just playin’.”

(If Viktor had a character named after him on Saturday Night Live, it would be: “Not Nearly As Sassy As He Thinks He Is Guy.” Or if he had an illness, it would called: “Seasonal Sass Disorder.”)

In fact, the wings are a reference to exotic birds, not skydiving. They are put in pairs and each assigned a bird to inspire their design.

Anya and Laura get the raven. (Go Ravens!) (Sorry. Force of habit.)

Viktor and Kimberly get the cockatoo. (Heh heh. She said “cockatoo”).

Bert and Josh, who are besties now (when did that happen? I do NOT approve!) get the Amazon parrot.

Everyone is hugging because togetherness is so awesome, but then Tim Gunn drops the bomb: They will not be working as a team, but going AGAINST each other head-to-head. Oh noes!

(I’ve never seen embraces turn into stinkeyes so fast.)

Off to Mood they go, where Josh is seen licking the fabric. Yes, licking the fabric. (Swatch is all like, “Don't knock it til you've tried it.")

Bert is having a hard time getting inspiration because he thinks his parrot has a questionable taste level.

They go back to the studio and Kimberly’s little mini-drama has already started and then Tim comes in and says gather round.

Ruh ro.

Yup, they now have to make a second high fashion look inspired by their bird (which is a lame surprise challenge, frankly.)

Back to Mood. Back to the studio. Attack of the killer cockroach, which Anya kills with her heel, Lara Croft Tomb Raider-style, according to Josh. Heh.

Speaking of Anya, can we take a moment to pay homage to her bold jewelry choices? I’m afraid to wear a too-chunky ring and girl has a pair of earrings that look like bicycle wheels and a necklace that looks like a glockenspiel.

I am in awe of her fierceness.

So Tim comes in and gives Kimberly one of his patented Tim pep talks, but she’s having none of it.
“I’m just having one of those days,” she sighs.
“I’m coming around. You need a hug.” (Oh, Tim.)

She decides to scrap her second dress completely, and is left with 3 hours to make a new one.

“I’m going to have to pull an Anya and go from tragedy to triumph,” she says. But will she succeed? (Spoiler alert to infinity: They always do.)

Then Tim walks up to the hot, feathered mess that Josh is designing and says, “Quest-ce que c’est?”

“What’s guess-ke-say?” Josh asks. (Oy.)

Bert laughs and laughs, because when he and Tim Gunn were lads, French was so NOT an elective.

It’s really no surprise that Josh has created a dress that looks like Carmen Miranda mated with the love child of Big Bird and Cher. This exotic bird challenge was basically begging for trouble.

Still, his second look, a bright orange draped cocktail dress, is gorgeous. It’s amazing how talented Josh can be when he holds back. (Of course, later he has to go add a “Caribbean party corsage” (™ Michael Kors) to that same dress. . . but that’s our boy.)

So Joshua decides to scrap the “guess-ke-say” dress and asks Anya if he can use some of her extra fabric and she basically lies and tells him that she might need it later.

“Her true colors are coming through,” snips Josh.

(In truth, everyone is getting a wee bit more competitive at this stage in the competition, as it should be. We’re down to the final 6. )

Viktor’s ego continues to be the Thing That Ate Parsons. He’s now convinced that Kimberly is copying his one-shoulder gown concept. Little man, get over yourself.

Tim comes back. More gathering around.
You may want to put those scissors down Laura,” he says. (Yikes! He’s afraid she might STAB him?)

New wrinkle: The designers can only send ONE look down the runway. Hello? Didn’t he just ask them to make a second look? Apparently, this is a lesson in “editing.” 

“In the real world, fashion designers must edit their collections,” Tim says. Also, in the real world, we have an hour and a half to kill on the show.

This whole editing thing works out great for some designers (Kimberly!) and not so great for others, like Anya, who already had two great looks.

Decisions, decisions. . .

Runway time.

Guest judge is Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein, who basically looks like a villain in a Bond film.

First, Anya and Laura go head-to-head.

Anya chose the more sculptural of her two outfits, a gamble that clearly paid off. (Just LOOK at that thing, above.)

“It’s my favorite outfit that you have produced so far,” says Nina. “You moved away from your comfort zone. It’s modern, dramatic, just great.” (Little did she know that Anya’s model was trapped in it, straightjacket style. But why quibble?)

Meanwhile, they like Laura’s outfit well enough, but think she went a little crazy with the birdseed.
“It’s too birdy,” says Heidi.

Winner: Anya

Next, Honey Badger vs. Twinky Bear (aka Bert vs. Joshua)

Bert made another one of his fugly, shiny, snakeskin monstrosities. God, I like Bert but I hate almost everything he produces.
The judges felt it didn’t capture the joy or exuberance of the bird, what Bert called “this dumpy little parrot.”

As for Joshua, well. . .you know the drill: Perfect dress. Tacky corsage detail that nearly ruins it. Nearly.

Winner: Josh.

Next, Kimberly vs. Viktor

“I want  to beat Viktor so bad,” admits Kimberly. “He’s been put on this pedestal, so to beat him would be major.”

The judges like both one-shoulder dresses but think that Kimberly’s is a little more fabulous.
(They also seem to be giving her credit for whipping it up in 3 hours. Fair?)
“Viktor’s is impeccable. I just liked yours more,” says Heidi.

Winner: Kimberly!!!

The judges have a little chat and the “clear winner” is. . .ANYA.

Josh comes in second and immediately starts sulking in the Green Room. He’s so incensed, he can’t even sit next to Anya.

“Her model had to be cut out of the garment following the runway show,” he grouses.

Then he goes into this whole rant about how Anya “definitely has some sort of strategy for this game.”
(Yeah, Josh, it’s called BEING AWESOME).

Kimberly’s in.
Viktor is in.

And it comes down to Honey Badger vs. Laura, she of the magically disappearing and reappearing bangs. (Did anyone else notice that?).

And Honey Badger—who had been less Honey Badger lately and more like your mother’s loveable “confirmed bachelor” friend “Uncle Bert”— is OUT.

So Bert goes backstage and says goodbye to the gang. Then he shares a few more educational anecdotes about rotary phones and Betamaxes and Nolan Miller and calls it a day.

Monday, October 3, 2011

R.I.P. Huddy

Warning: What follows is pretty much the ranting of a bitter Huddy fangirl. Read at your own risk:

So tonight is the 8th season premiere of what used to be my favorite show, House.


Remember last year when I wrote this entirely optimistic—gushy even—essay about how House creators David Shore and Katie Jacobs were going to avoid the so-called Moonlighting trap (i.e., ruining a show by hooking up two of its main characters)?

In case you’re not in the mood to click on the link, this is what I wrote:

If last night’s episode was any indication, Shore and Jacobs know exactly what they are doing with the consummation of Huddy. It’s just another way to explore the inner workings of House, one of the most complex characters on TV.

Oh, how horribly wrong I was. 

Here’s where I went wrong:

First and foremost, I assumed that Shore cared about the characters he had created as much as the viewers did.

Instead, the show treated House and Cuddy, a.k.a. “Huddy” (pardon the portmanteau, it’s just too darn convenient)  like any other plot arc—a (not entirely pleasant) task to be ticked off in 15 convenient episodes.

I assumed that the flirty sparring, the “eye sexing” that launched a thousand Tumblr gifs, the combativeness laced with longing that made the Huddy relationship so hot and unique, was going to remain intact.

Instead, the couple was 10 times sexier BEFORE they were in an official relationship. (The chemistry between actors Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein could power small villages—but once they were an official item, they barely shared a few chaste pecks.)

I assumed they would allow the long-suffering House to have a bit of happiness.

Instead, the show was so afraid of losing something they saw as essential to his character—his misery—they couldn’t even let the poor bastard enjoy the relationship for a few episodes. (In fact, as the Season 7 DVD commentary “Huddy Dissected” revealed, Shore specifically instructed actors Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein not to SMILE at each other too much.)

I assumed that he understood that we “Huddy” fans didn’t expect the relationship to be conventional, or smooth-sailing, or mushily romantic. We liked the Huddy relationship for what it was: Sexy and smart and deeply flawed, with a deep core of love and trust that managed to somehow sustain it. 

Instead, they managed to suck the joy out of the relationship before the inevitable death-march to its conclusion: Turning House into an insecure neurotic and Cuddy into a disapproving shrew.

And yes, I assumed that they would eventually break House and Cuddy up, but I didn’t think they would irreparably destroy their relationship and friendship—six seasons in the making—in the process.

All of this was bad enough, but things only got worse. After they broke House and Cuddy up, the show unleashed executive producer/director Greg Yaitanes to an unsuspecting public. This guy, a prolific Tweeter, seemed intent on mocking anyone who despaired the breakup, often engaging in gleeful Twitter wars with depressed fans. (Mocking your fans seems a strange PR strategy, but, uh, I guess he had his reasons. )

Then there was the (literally) bloody awful season finale in which a jealous House crashed his car through Cuddy’s living room. With that single act, David Shore officially crossed his titular hero over from troubled-but-noble-anti-hero to out-and-out sociopath. (Tonight’s premiere has House serving jail time for the act, a begrudging and in my opinion insufficient concession Shore has made to outraged fans.)

Then, the final nail on the Huddy coffin—the thing that made a sad season almost unbearable for me—Lisa Edelstein quit the show, amid rumors of truly insulting contract negotiations. (There were also rumors, unconfirmed, that the show’s parent company, NBC Universal, tried to muzzle Edelstein’s outspoken left wing politics. If so, shame on them.)

So . . .what are we left with? The brilliance and hotness of Hugh Laurie, of course, which is no small thing. (He is pretty much what they had in mind with the cliché: “I’d watch him read from the phone book.”)

There’s the bromance between House and his best friend and conscience Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). It’s always satisfying to see these two gifted actors play off each other.

There’s the writing, which has taken a turn for the dark lately (from cynical to downright misanthropic) but can still occasionally produce something of style or wit.

And. . .that’s basically it.

I’ll watch tonight’s premiere out of misguided loyalty, while practicing the cello, or ironing (okay, I don’t actually own an iron, but if I did. . .), but certainly without any of the enthusiasm and excitement I had a year ago.

It’s a shame. They had something great and they messed it up. I miss the days when my favorite show was  . . . my favorite show.