“Just the Tip”
June 27th, 2010
Like Cougar Town in the fall, Hung was a show in which some viewers and critics became hung up on its title and its initial premise to the point where they were unable to see the ways in which the show was something more than a dude with a large penis. Those of us who kept watching, and writing about, the show were considered outliers, those who were perhaps reading more into the series than was actually there. And as Hung returns for its second season, it does so in a way which makes us wonder if us outliers were wrong all along.
It’s not that “Just the Tip” is particularly bad, but rather than it feels particularly pointless: the plots in the episode feel either like continuations of first season stories or cliche-riddled story arcs which feel divorced from the social circumstances which created them. While there is meaning in the fact that the central image of Ray’s struggle, his fire-damaged house, remains fire-damaged, it also means that the show feels exactly like it did last summer, which is a problem on a show which seems like its stakes should be escalating rather than normalizing, and which makes me question just what this show wants to be.
“This is America or Fifty Bucks”
August 30th, 2009
More than any episode before it, “This is America or Fifty Bucks” lives and dies by the show’s timeliness in the midst of an economic crisis. With Jessica struggling to adapt to Ron’s newfound money problems, and Ray struggling to make money in order to rebuild his house, the show has always been dealing with the reality of the current economic situation.
But there has always been a problem central to Ray’s struggle: in dealing with such a high end prostitution ring, he’s trapped at a point where their clientele is shrinking. Lenore’s clients are rich women with no real sense of the value of money, but once you move beyond them we’re beginning to see the business of Happiness Consulting falling apart in the midst of these circumstances. In this week’s episode, we find both Ray and Jessica at a crossroads, and they find the exact same temptress waiting for them at the roadsign, beckoning towards a sense of luxury and self-worth while Tonya struggles to maintain a sense of normalcy in the midst of an almost absurd (when you step back) business relationship as best she can.
But America is changing, and normalcy is changing, and the status quo of the series is starting to fall out from underneath our characters as they start to fall in on one another – the result is a really intriguing leadup to the end of the show’s first season.
March 24th, 2009
When three people left in the first episode of the season, this was an inevitability: it was almost required that there would be some kind of twist where people could gain the chance to come back into the season. It was even something they did last season: finalist Marie-Genvieve was eliminated after a particularly erroneous garment, but then returned to end up clearly better than most of her competition.
However, the difference in Season 2 is that, to be entirely frank, there wasn’t anyone who felt like they particularly needed to come back, people who went home for reasons that weren’t quite true. While an argument could be made foy Baylor, that isn’t who the producers brought back as the designers head into this week’s challenge, and it’s really hard to get excited about Jason and Genevieve coming back into the game when the designs they were eliminated on were, well, deserving of elimination.
So while the show is perhaps justified in using this as a big “A-ha” moment, it’s all backwards: rather than people we missed returning to create some sort of karma, it feels like we’re being punked. And, I don’t like being punked, and neither do the designers who get sent home in the wrong fashion.
“Return of the Supermodel”
March 17th, 2009
This is going to be a pretty short one, because this episode is as simple as it gets: no gimmicks, no major drama, just five designers given a task to create an outfit for a supermodel. While I think that Adejoke’s depressed take on the challenge was a little bit off kilter, she’s right: while it sounds like this should be really exciting as an opportunity for young and new designers to showcase their work on a grand stage, in reality it’s not actually that interesting.
The only way it gets interesting is if people step outside of the challenge (See: Sunny), or if people are unable to execute their ideas (See: Kim), or if they don’t quite fail miserably but instead settle on being dead wrong about a challenge’s purpose (See: Genevieve). The end result of the entire affair is nothing even close to surprising, and the most interesting thing to come out of the episode were the scenes from next week – that’s never a good sign for a reality show, which is supposed to get more interesting as it goes along.
“Hope Springs Eternal”
March 3rd, 2009
So, I want to first off apologize that I was nowhere to be found for last week’s episode of Project Runway Canada – I wasn’t able to watch the episode live, had a heck of a time getting it to stream on Global’s website, and then once the decision became clear I just didn’t have the drive to write about it. I did, however, converse with a few people on Twitter about it, and the consensus seems clear: with Sunny running away with the competition, and the rest of the designers failing to bring anything to the table, there just isn’t anything that the show can do to convince us that we’re watching an honest to goodness contest. What we’re left with is, well, the Sunny show.
The thing is, though, other than Danio’s tragic early exit (followed in time by his tragic passing from Cancer), the people who have gone home all deserved to go home until we hit Baylor, who was unfairly punished for a mistake that, while certainly not minor, was not on the level of the episode’s other competitors. It’s not like the designers are just getting rid of all of the talent, it seems like it wasn’t there to begin with and that’s a problem that falls on the producers and not necessarily the contestants themselves.
But this doesn’t mean that this week’s hackjob, where only three contestants really get anything close to praise from the judges, is in the hands of the producers: this was quite honestly the most clear challenge that we’ve had in the show’s run so far. A spring dress, made for commercial outlets, that goes from day to night – they’re buzzwords that these people should be able to work with, and yet again people just go around ignoring them all over the place. And this is the kind of challenge where you show that you can do the most simple basic tasks…and if they’re failing here, what does it say about their future.
It’s all adding up to a lack of desire to really blog about this show when, in the end, it seems like a foregone conclusion, even though we saw a potential competitor emerge.
“Re-Fashioning the Houses”
February 17th, 2009
One thing that Project Runway Canada has been good with this year is designing challenges that are actually just that: a challenge. This week, the designers are placed into teams of three in order to complete quite the task: not only do they have to design a three-piece couture collection, but it has to be a collection inspired by a famous fashion design house, and their looks need to be made out of vintage clothing from Preloved. As a result, it’s the ultimate challenge: they need to work together, they need to make something high class out of not so high class fabrics, and they have to show a knowledge of the design world in which they desire to operate. Oh, and they have to present themselves as a designer, because they always have to do that.
Unfortunately for Project Runway Canada, their aspirations for these designers are quite considerably higher than their actual talent level. Only two designers seemed to really earn a passing grade from the judges out of nine, and the other seven were varying degrees of epic failure when it came to meeting the multiple requirements of the challenge. It was like there was one requirement too many for all of them: either they didn’t work well with the other designers, or they failed to make their own stamp, or they didn’t know who their famous designer was (yes, someone failed even this part of the challenge). I admire the show for its high expectations, but I really wish that they had a crop of contestants that was all living up to that potential, as opposed to a bunch of also-rans fighting for the scraps of the top designers.
At the very least, though, one feels as if the judges make the right decision in the end: while they take into account all of the challenge’s factors in the end, it’s the person who most married poor design with poor perspective who got sent home.
“Claim to Fame”
February 3rd, 2009
Early in the season’s second episode, Jessica observes that something is beginning to change around these parts: after the first week where everyone was concerned about staying, they enter into one of two modes. They either, like Jessica and a few others, switch from survival mode to awesome mode, or they switch into a mode where all they have is personality-driven drivel. It’s a sad existence for those few, and it is not very surprising that they are amongst those who are almost out the door by episode’s end.
They might be designing a dress for Elisha Cuthbert, but considering that her requests are for a dress for a “night on the town” it’s not like this makes her very special. Instead, it’s a test of the designers’ ability to design a simple dress in a way that isn’t too ugly, and that isn’t too much for them to handle. It isn’t surprising, really, that it is the people who spend more time feuding and ranting during the conception phase are those who can’t put together a dress to save their lives in the end.
But in the end Jessica is right: we don’t get much of a sense of any major design emergences here, instead focusing more on personalities. And considering that they’re dressing a celebrity, I guess it makes sense to focus on some of the people only concerned about trying to become one through the world of reality television.