Monday, August 11, 2008

The TV Set: Not Without My "Runway"

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My heart broke a little when it was revealed that "Project Runway" gave style-friendly Bravo a Klum-style, two-cheek kiss auf. When next we see the fashionable reality show franchise it will be in its new digs on house frau net Lifetime. Girls, housecoats at the ready! It makes you wonder what exactly Harvey Weinstein—Hollywood movie mogul turned reality television hitmaker—was smoking. Pimping out the beloved, chic, upwardly mobile "Project Runway" and putting it out on the stroll alongside the likes of Meredith Baxter Birney is wrong on a level not seen since Whitney took up with Bobby. Not that I don't have an appreciation for what Mer does. It takes serious versatility to convincingly morph Elyse Keaton into your quintessential crazy white lady. Really, Mer. You're second to none. Since you've come around it's like Tiffani Amber Thiesen who?

But seriously—Lifetime? Everyone knows it's one of those channels you turn to when life feels unsunny. It's the television equivalent of drinking alone, in the afternoon…in a very dark linen closet. This is the channel you can count on when you need to assure yourself that going through your boyfriend's phone wasn't really that big of a deal because look at what that homicidal Marcia Gay Harden is up to. The only fierce thing you're sure to be wowed by in the Lifetime neck of the woods is the psychotic determination of jilted men and women unfazed by restraining orders or the advent of the untapered jean.

I know my fellow reality show connoisseurs are nodding in somber agreement. To us, Bravo is the Johnny to our Baby. Just because we liked a genre of television that had been ghettoized—"Real World" producer Bunim Murray, how do you live with yourselves?--didn't mean Bravo was going to let anyone put us in a corner. We didn't have to feel dirty to keep it real. Most Bravo reality show cast members—see PR, "Top Chef" and "Flipping Out"—stand in stark contrast to the MTV, VH-1, E! template of prefab dunces outfitted in whiskered denim, fake tans and who enjoy what can only be described as a "distant" relationship with the English language. Don't forget the clincher, the biggest prereq of them all—they have to be completely devoid of any discernible talent. Sorry Kardashians, being more vapid than all the rest doesn't count.

Yes, Bravo is quite literally our bright light. Their signature white backdrops used for show promos signal to the audience that style and taste live here. The look is an eye pleasing, clean, modern, art gallery aesthetic. Bravo appeals to the Banana Republic/J. Crew meets quirky NYC flea market find demographic, or at the very least people who like the idea of quirky NYC flea market finds. The network's slogan implores you to "Watch What Happens" and why wouldn't you? Their shows reliably and deliciously press all your drama buttons—Jeff Lewis, how goes it?—but it is within the context of the chaos of creative endeavor. You're impressed by the participants not because of how many people they're capable of hooking up with in a single season, but because of the to die-for party dress they were able to design McGyver style out of coffee filters and vacuum cleaner bags.

This isn't to say that Bravo is incapable of an abomination or two. The highly unpalatable "Date My Ex: Jo and Slade" comes to mind. Jo is totally Bravo's version of the ghetto fabulous VH-1 personality "New York". But for the most part Bravo excels at making us feel like it's okay to like reality shows because it's a genre that is evolving as we do. It appeals to that slightly more cultured side of you that started to emerge in earnest after you graduated from college and discovered cooking beyond the confines of your microwave and it will keep appealing to you long after you've got your feet firmly planted in the middle of adulthood.

Now there's word that the situation is even worse than originally feared. Magical Elves, the production team responsible for "Project Runway", has bolted leaving Harvey to make a deal with the devil themselves—Bunim Murray—and it gets grosser. The show is moving to LA. I can see poor Tim Gunn now trying desperately to lure the "designers" out of the hottub with a bottle of Jagermeister, urging them to make it work. After all, guest judge Heidi Montag is expecting a frock guaranteed to land her the cover of US Weekly.


  1. What?! LA?!! NOOOOOOO!!!!! Not cool! That is not OK!