Project Runway Season Five – “Episode Six”

“Life’s a Drag”

August 20th, 2008

You know, I’m starting to wonder if there’s some sort of psychological condition which takes the most obvious pieces of logic and totally twists them the second you enter the Parsons work room. I’m not saying that the intensive Project Runway schedule (where they’re constantly working, constantly not getting enough sleep, etc.) is not in some way going to be detrimental to their state of mind, but when they’re ignoring even the most obvious ways to succeed in the contest I do have to wonder what exactly is in the water.

When Project Runway gives you a drag competition, you do one of two things: you either go full-out into that fantasy drag outfit you’ve secretly always wanted to make or you adapt parts of your own aesthetic into a drag concept in order to show the best of both worlds. The former gets you into the Top 3, a fact shown as Korto, Terri and Joe all just throw caution to the wind in creating “fabulous” garments that their models seem to adore. And the middle of the pack all create dresses that seem like they are that mediation, of their own ideas with the ideas of drag, in a way that deems them inoffensive while competent enough to understand how this show works.

But the Bottom Three perplex me, and they’ve done it a lot this season: two of them, in particular, just don’t seem to understand that this isn’t just an opportunity to prove you have taste, or to prove you know how to cut out pieces of fabric and attach them to other pieces of fabric in a seemingly random pattern. Instead, this is an opportunity to prove that you’re capable of listening to a single word of the challenge put before you.

And when they can’t do that, why are they even still there?

There’s a lot to like about a drag queen challenge: it’s one of the most energetic runway shows we’ll see, we get the return of the lovable Chris March, and we get a guest judge in RuPaul who actually has a lot to say about the designers’ efforts and is completely willing to talk back to them. It was also quite interesting to see the fashion challenges they represent: hiding what needs to be hidden (for obvious reasons), accentuating each individual queen’s features that should be highlighted, and even the whole difficulty of adapting male mannequins into female ones in order to fit the dress. Plus, seeing them all come in without makeup was one of those little moments where you feel like you’re seeing something you’re not supposed to see, peeking behind the curtain at the inner workings of the process.

That process was with its usual pieces of character fluff, mostly revolving around Blayne being annoying and Keith being really, really full of himself. The stage was set for a potential exit for Keith as soon as they opened the show on Joe noting what we all did, that Keith’s outfit had no business winning over Jerell’s last week (I’m presuming that Shields liked it better, and had a veto as part of her performance). Keith spent the entire episode talking about how great his win was, and how he wished he had immunity, and it was the kind of thing that had me wanting to see him packing fast. Add to this yet another week of Blayne “licious”ing everything that moves, and you’ve got a bit of a bitter taste in your mouth.

And yet, when we reached the conclusion, I was oddly fine with Blayne moving on: yes, his outfit was tacky and ridiculous and almost fell apart, but he at least bloody well tried. Daniel and Keith both completely failed to understand the whole concept of doing a drag outfit. Yes, Daniel was building off of the flamenco theme of his model’s dress from the start of the competition, but it was a half-ass attempt and he actually ended up just giving Tim the finger by putting NOTHING at the top of the dress even after trying some sort of ruffled trim on it. And Keith wasn’t paying any attention to the challenge, so caught up in how awesome his fringe technique was going to be and how it was clearly different from every other identical looking fringe technique. Riiight.

I felt bad for Jerell, since he was just a victim of standing on the fence: he designed a dress that fit her personal, less flashy style, and his collar was his way of making it more drag-esque. In the process, though, he became their example of well-meaning mistakes, like length or fit, and it meant that he was selected despite a dress that seemed to have more effort than say Kenley’s. But he was never going home: Daniel and Keith were both repeating past mistakes, so one of them was going to get the boot. That it ended up being Daniel is fine, but I would have rather seen Keith totally get his ass handed to him for showboating over an undeserved win last week and then completely botching this one.

Regardless, though, that’s one more piece of dead weight down – I’m actually really looking forward to the prospect of having a group of people including Terri (Whose Kimono outfit totally reminded me of something out of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney video games), Korto (Whose structural work on the fire flames has me convinced she has what it takes to win this thing) and Joe (Who used a smart eye to make the outfit exactly what his client wanted) battling it out without the distraction of the, well, people who just don’t have it in them.

Cultural Observations

  • While, as noted, I enjoyed RuPaul as a guest judge, kind of disappointed that Chris didn’t want in on the action for the Runway. Maybe he felt, understandably, that he had been in their position before and didn’t want to have to be the bad guy (He’s not good at that, never will be). Clearly, based on the previews, Season Three contestant Laura Bennett has no such problems, which is not in the least bit surprising.
  • Leanne is very monotone, and very bland in many ways, but I love her little Talking Heads more than any others. She is just really good at boiling down annoyances in small little packages that are quirky without being trite. Maybe it’s just that it came right after Keith’s odd “I’m looking off camera every two seconds” delivery, but it was quite charming.
  • I really enjoyed how Project Runway Canada, in its first season, did an auction challenge and then actually had the auction during the show, where we got to see how much each dress earned, etc. I’m disappointed they didn’t do that here.
  • And to answer the question that’s been in my mind about showmances, after it was reported somewhere, it appears that it was Daniel and Wesley who made the connection (Or so Bravo’s site seems to presume considering they’re on the after show together). Mystery solved.

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