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Location: Los Angeles, CA

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Embarrassing Admission #365,012

It's not a television show that I ever thought I'd watch, but I just love PROJECT RUNWAY. It's like someone sneaks in and removes my brain for the 40 minutes or so that I Tivo through the thing. It's this great combination of bitch-fest and television producer manipulation that (somehow, don't ask me how) appeals to me.

For those of you who haven't lost your sanity, let me briefly explain.

Every week, Heidi Klum -- past super model and now washed up reality show producer and host -- visits a group of wannabe fashion designers for about one hour, after the producers and real host Tim Gunn (who allegedly has something to do with teaching fashion, though all he seems to do is cattily snark at the wannabes) have given them a challenge, The challenges are something like: design a dress for Barbie, or, design a garden party outfit made totally out of leaves and flowers, or, design something hideous and then defend it later on when Heidi rips it to shreds.

Actually, when the wannabes finish their rush designing and dress creation, they put it on a low-rent model and then there's a runway mini-fashion show in front of Klum, Michael Kors (who must be famous for something besides this show -- I hope), Nina Garcia (who writes for Elle Magazine, which means that she doesn't design clothes but can rip the shit out of the hearts of the wannabes -- who do design clothes), and someone else who happens to be passing through the studio that day.

The show construction is very predictable and pretty damned exciting. The editors/producers manage to wring as much excitement out of the wannabes cutting fabric and using their sewing machines as they can (thank god that television audiences accept rapid cutting nowadays). They manufacture one or two rivalries per episode, whether they really happened or not, and then drag out the revelation of who lost the week's challenge and is voted off the island.

Oops, I mean, who is asked to leave the show.

Every week someone gets kicked off or, as Klum says endlessly, "someone is in, and someone is out."

It's all a giant morality play, with gnashing teeth and endless unspoken gay jokes thrown in for good measure.

As wretched and awful and predicatable and dumb as this all sounds -- it's actually a guilty pleasure beyond belief. And I find myself thanking the stars that Mr. Tivo woke up one morning and said "Let there be DVRs. And let them be able to record crap."

Another exciting thing about show is that there are fan sites that have grown up around it. Oh boy, there are fan sites! Remember when you were in junior high school, there were a group of guys who were total STAR TREK or STAR WARS or WHATEVER fans, and they'd gather together and discuss the previous evening's show and talk about all of the plot points and build fake laser guns and all that. And you thought that they were creepiest people imaginable.

Well, they're back, except now they watch reality television and chat about it later on the net. And they are still the creepiest people imaginable.

But they sometimes can be loads of fun. Witness Dan, who is the bitchiest, creepiest, funniest fan around. Read this post as he dissects a recent episode of PROJECT RUNWAY. And someone with the nom de net of Auntiemame, unloads on the show here. Let's face it, the show may be funny, but this blow-by-blow description totally explains why it's funny -- in a catty, I'm-not-explaining-it sorta way.