Friday, October 13, 2017

Project Runway Recap - Season 16, Episode 9

If you remember correctly, good people, last week's episode didn't quite end on a high note. In fact, it didn't seem to end at all. We had a winner, but no one was yet going home.

Except Harvey Weinstein.

But his wife, Georgina Chapman, won't be around when he gets there. WTF is wrong with Hollywood? How could Weinstein's behavior have been an open secret for so long without anything being done about it? How was the old "casting couch" trope allowed to be a reality well into the 21st century? Seth MacFarlane joked about the situation back in 2013, at the Academy Awards best actress nominations presentation. “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” It was a joke that was no joke, but people still laughed for a good beat or two. Sexual harassment is serious fucking shit, people. In my workplace, an institute of higher learning, all employees must have sexual harassment prevention training and we are quizzed on it annually. Why is it still ok that individuals who are already powerful, who can make or break people's careers and indeed even their lives, can get away with doing such terrible and demeaning things to other human beings? I have to wonder if Weinstein ever harassed Heidi Klum. If so, will she come forward? Or has her own power corrupted her into silence? I can only assume they had a close working relationship from their Project Runway connection. Perhaps she was one of the lucky ones, and perhaps she knew nothing.

Personally, I think anyone not a victim who knew anything about the Weinstein situation and neither said nor did anything is complicit and should be held accountable, at least in a karmic way.
</end of this week's rant>

Back to the show.

After Heidi declared Last Annoying Twin Standing, aka Hairy (also occasionally called "Claire" for some reason), as the winner of last week's challenge, Michael walked off the stage. He doesn't think the competition is fair and squeals to Tim that every garment that the Annoying Twins produced was copied from something they already owned and wore. Though I disliked the twins, I don't think Michael's accusation was quite fair. Their garments from the very first challenge, for example--Hairy's layered tulle dress, and Baldie's unflattering baggy shorts and crop top with weird flowy streamers--didn't look like anything the two of them wore on the show. Ditto for the ugly plastic outfits they made for the unconventional challenge in episode two. The Twins themselves wore sweatshirts, skinny pants (usually leggings), leather jackets, and other "street wear" type things. Except for the black and navy lace top that Baldie wore during episode six, which we only saw the one time. In that episode, it was obvious that there were similarities between the Twins' own clothes and the garments they were producing for the runway. Hairy's design for that challenge involved a sweatshirt; Baldie's was a mashup between the blouses that she and her model wore, and an exact copy of her model's pants.

Meanwhile, back on the runway, the judges are nonplussed. "This has never happened before," states Heidi. She asks Hairy if Michael is upset with her win; Hairy has no idea. Margarita says, mysteriously, "none of us wants to point fingers," just before everyone starts pointing fingers. She then runs backstage to check on Michael, who has just dropped his bombshell on Tim. Margarita tells Tim that Hairy measured her clothes. Tim says, "everyone has a tape measure at their workstation," and "if you want, you can measure the garment you are wearing in the room." He seems confused, for good reason. He's been presented with two issues: 1) copying; 2) measuring. Neither of them seem to be actual problems, if one judges with only the scant amount of information Tim has at hand.

Back on the runway set, Heidi asks for enlightenment. Batani helpfully tell the judges that Hairy had ripped off Margarita's design from the earlier challenge. She then added that Hairy measures her clothing. Hairy, who is standing there openmouthed, admits to taking a pair of her own pants, measuring them, and using those measurements as reference to make the pants she created for this challenge. The judges agreed that was fine.

Backstage, Michael finally tells Tim that Hairy has a tape measure in her room, to which Tim replies that they will "look into it" before sending Michael back to the runway. Once there, he apologizes for his behavior but says he couldn't stand there for a win he felt was unjustified. Yolanda Hadid then asks Michael if he is an exalted highfalutin judge like herself, or merely a participant--a designer knave whose sole purpose in life is to produce the clothes that her daughters wear as rich, sought-after, models.

The judges still don't understand what is really going on. Hairy seems completely clueless, or is at least pretending to be. Michael then declares he can tell the judges the exact reference Hairy used for each garment she made. She defends herself with "nuh uh!" Because for one thing, he can't, and for another, it's no crime to use other garments as reference. The judges agree. They tell the designers to focus on their own work and not that of others. In other words, to mind their own beeswax.

Back to Tim, who is still standing around backstage looking somewhat befuddled. He looks at the camera and tells us that Hairy's copying of Margarita's dress is a non-issue, but if she indeed has a tape measure in her room, that is against the rules and there will be consequences.

Meanwhile, Heidi reiterates that Hairy is the winner of the challenge and the $25K and can leave the runway, along with Kenya, Kentaro, and Margarita, who are safe. Margarita is embarrassed about how they (meaning she and Michael) handled the situation. If they thought one or both of the Twins were cheating, then they should have said something to that effect to Tim or one of the producers two or three or four or five episodes ago. In the same way that people who knew about Harvey Weinstein's deplorable behavior toward women should have said something.

Perhaps they should have taken a knee instead. But that's another argument for another time.

Back in the green room, Claire feels the whole thing was a personal attack. The Good and Evil challenge is brought up. Michael and Margarita claim that the tank-style top she made for her dress was based on something one of the Twins was wearing that day. And that she measured it. At home. She cops to taking four measurements from a tank back at the apartment. She doesn't seem to realize that having the tape measure outside of the workroom is against the rules. Tim steps in and asks if it's true that she has contraband (which also includes pens and paper). Hairy confesses that she is in possession of the forbidden instrument and that she had used it on a tank and the crotch of a pair of pants. Tim then rescinds her win and sends her packing. He doesn't say, "we'll miss you," and he definitely doesn't use his Tim Gunn Save™.

There's now no winner for the challenge, but Dixie still wants to put one of the computer generated designs into production. They choose Brandon's, and he seems inordinately excited to have his doodles on the side of a paper cup. There's no word on anyone receiving the cash prize.

Wow. It only took fifteen minutes of this episode to resolve this challenge, and a much longer time for me to write about it. I guess the producers have had to pad it out because now that the Annoying Twins are gone, the show is boring. The remaining designers are all too nice and get along too well. There's no drama at all for the remaining 75 minutes. Which begs the question: why do the episodes need to be 90 minutes long if there's not 90 minutes worth of content? I seem to remember hour-long episodes being just fine.

We next see the designers going back out onto the runway set, which is choked with toys and little girls playing with hideous dolls and their hideous accessories. Tim gets the rugrats' attention and they march out onto the runway with him, each holding a colorful troll-like creature in their hands. These ugly bits of plastic are called Shopkins, a name that brings to mind small, nebbishy, Jewish men. The original Shopkins are tiny toys from Australia named after grocery store items. The Shopkins these kids are playing with are larger, from the "Shoppies" line. ("Shoppies" sounds like street slang for people who practice the art of shoplifting. Don't these companies have R&D?) The dolls allegedly hail from different parts of the world and have ridiculous monikers like Spaghetti Sue and her friends Pia Pasta and Maria Meatballs from Italy, and Bubbleisha, from China. (China?) There are also several characters that are inanimate objects, like Luigi Lasagna and Peppa Ronnie Pizza.

Hold on. I gotta go vomit.

Anyhoo... Kotomi Nanjo, an employee of the manufacturer of these unfortunate technicolor gewgaws, is there to help Tim present this week's overly complicated challenge. The designers are to create an avant-garde look inspired by the little girls' favorite Shopkins. Ok, so that seems a little more straightforward than other challenges this season. But they can't just pick up a doll and get inspired by it, no, they have to consult with the kiddos who have drawn pictures and have funny stories and blah blah blah. The winner of the challenge will get a bonus of $5K and have their design turned into a special exclusive Shopkins doll. If that's not exciting, I don't know what is.

Oh yeah, most things.

Tim pairs up the kids with the designers. Somehow the African American kids get the African American designers, the one Asian kid gets the one Asian designer, and the Caucasian designers get white kids. It's hard to tell with Margarita's kid; she could have Spanish roots, or her family could be from one of the many other nations bordering the Mediterranean. Michael's kid seems pretty darn white though. Tim had the button bag in hand, but that only gives him the order in which the designers are chosen. Incidentally, the kids themselves are not playing with racially-matched dolls. Yes, I notice these things.

The designers and kiddos consult for 30 minutes, which would have killed me. Ugh. All that pink plastic. And all those enthusiastic children. Michael's kid is into disco, so he decides he'll make a disco ball. However, he has to be careful not to reference an actual disco ball, lest he have to accuse himself of cheating. Brandon's girl is obsessed with chocolate and she wants him to grind up chocolate and smear it into the dress, and then pour chocolate over it. Brandon's not into that at all, which surprises me. Considering that a few of his garments this season were blotched with what looked like baby poop stains, his kid's suggestions should be right up his alley. Over on the other side of the room, Amy taps into her inner child and plays happily with her kid, not really paying much attention to the fact that she should be thinking and sketching. A portent of doom if I ever saw one.

After consulting, the designers head to Mood with $300 to spend. They should probably brush their teeth too, after sugar-fest they just experienced.

Now that both Annoying Twins are out of the picture, the workroom is calm and quiet. And boring. I think I fell asleep for a few minutes because my notes on Tim's critique are pretty vague. He tells Batani to lose the fishing pole she has sticking out of the colorful mounds of fabric she's calling a dress. He tells Ayana that she's got a lot of stuff going on and she should lose this fabric and consider that one carefully, etc. Once Tim leaves, Ayana starts making a cage out of chicken wire. Wonder what he would have said had he seen that?

Michael's sequinned fabric is pretty unforgiving so he needs to watch every detail. Amy's outfit is great from the hips up but otherwise yuck. And Brandon's is....well, Brandon doesn't really have much done. And it's green, not baby poop brown, which is nice change from the usual. For him, switching colors like that is somewhat avant garde in itself, but there's not much garment there otherwise. Tim makes some suggestions to him, pronounces himself excited about what is generally going on in the workroom, and beats a hasty retreat.

The models come in for a fitting. Michael has made a sheer bodysuit thing, and I'm not sure how that's fitting into the design because while sparkly, there are no sequins on it. Batani's model is unsure about the pile of fabric she is being made to wear. It shows off her back fat, which some people might consider unflattering. Brandon's model has nothing at all to put on, so she sits in the green room to play Candy Crush for a while until he's cobbled together some pieces.

There doesn't really seem to be all that much workroom time in this episode, probably because of all the wasted time at the beginning. In a flash, it's the next morning and Tim is telling the designers they have one hour (only one hour? isn't it normally two?) to send their models to the Rainbow Brite makeup studio and the Strawberry Shortcake hair salon. I don't recall any mention of the JC Penney Accessories Wall, but I may have blacked out momentarily. [Edited to add: My lovely and talented  husband, who managed to stay awake through the entire episode, says Tim suggested that it's important to use the JCPAW very thoughtfully for this challenge.]

The guest judges this week are Kate Upton's boobs. There is no way to unsee those things. She's got 'em, so she's flaunting them in a super low-cut dress that looks a bit dangerous.

The judges were impressed enough with the show this week to choose four top looks and only two bottoms. Kenya and Kentaro are safe, which I had figured, as they got the least amount of camera time this week.

Ayana's dress is called a "show-stopper." Unfortunately, by my clock, there's still about 30 minutes left in the program, so that's not at all true. Zac calls it "surrealist Bo Peep," (I think it looked like a giant baby bassinet.) They love the color, the volume, the giant bow. It is a fun look, and if you think about it, it fit Ayana's "modest" aesthetic pretty well as only Liris' neck and her lower legs was showing. It was a "different side of Ayana" that we hadn't seen before.

Michael revealed that his was meant to emulate a "melting disco ball." The judges felt it was well-made and imaginative. Zac called it a "futuristic tin man." I think it looked like a boa constrictor had crawled into his garment just before his model did and it had wrapped itself around her body.

Brandon's is roundly praised as being "really cool." I don't think it was any more "avant-garde" than anything else he had made during the course of the competition. It had layers, appeared to be made from cotton (though it was probably a more expensive material) and sported a shit ton of those weird strips of cloth that he likes to put on everything. I thought it looked like a pile of folded napkins tangled with an apron left behind by Craft Services.

Batani's looks like a pile of scraps. She had left a bit of black stretch skirt un-embellished, and that looked like a mistake to the judges. To me, too. It appeared to be falling apart, unfinished, not polished. Zac said he wrote down "laundry day." I'm guessing he meant a pile of dirty laundry and not the one clean thing left to wear, but it works either way if the only clean thing was a duvet cover.

Amy's coat thingy is a bit baffling. Her usual streamlined aesthetic isn't visible, and the overall design isn't risky enough. Zac felt it was "sad and depressing." Nobody mentions that it looks nothing like something inspired by a line of saccharine pink and purple kids' toys.

Heidi loved Margarita's look. She thought it was "beyond stunning" and "like a cloud." Like Batani's look, Margarita's was a big pile of fabric, but it was more thoughtfully assembled.

While the judges were taking a closer look at the garments, Zac noted that they were getting close to fashion week and perhaps should start really cutting back on the designers. That prompted the elimination of two people this week. Batani's elimination was obvious, but it was also Amy's time to go. She had made some great garments this season, though was only safe every week. I think it was unfair for her to go home for her first mistake. I mean, it wasn't awful, just not good. But the judges were feeling rather cut-throat, I guess, after the whole debacle with Hairy Twin.

Disco Ball Michael got the win. Can't wait to see the hideous toy that results!

Next week: ZZZzzzzzZZzzzzzz! Oh wait - it's an unconventional materials challenge. Could be fun, but probably not.

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