Friday, November 20, 2009

A Finale Worthy of the Crappy Season Preceding It

It's no secret that this season of Project Runway has been objectively bad. I wrote about it, everyone else has written about it, we all know the reasons. There's no real purpose in going over all of that again.

But in spite of everything else, the judges did probably find the three strongest people for the finale (if you don't count Shirin and Ra'mon, that is). And as much as everyone I've talked to has said, "I don't even have anyone I'm rooting for. They all suck," I actually had someone I was rooting for. Carol Hannah had made consistently nice stuff AND managed to spend more time on her clothes than on bitchy comments. Was she up to the standards of past PR winners? Maybe not, but she would still be a very respectable pick.

And that decision was amplified when I saw the collections. Usually everyone brings their A-game, to the point that people you go in hating sometimes cause me to reconsider, and it's hard to figure out who really was on top. But not this year. This year Carol Hannah was FAR AND AWAY better than the other two, who I thought both MAJORLY disappointed. While her collection wasn't "cohesive" if cohesive means "all exactly the same," she was the only one with any memorable individual pieces that actually looked good. And it wasn't all black. Seemed like a no-brainer.

As for the others, Althea's so-called "sportswear of the future" looked like pretty normal clothes you could find on anyone, any time. And even getting past the fact that she went for more casual wear, it wasn't very interesting. Of course, this episode has been sitting on the shelf for over a year now, so maybe "the future" to them was Spring 2009, and this was really cutting-edge back then. I certainly wouldn't know.

Now, I'll give winner Irina the benefit of the doubt for a moment. She said that black doesn't look good on camera, so it's certainly possible that what I saw was nothing at all like what the judges praised. But what I saw was many variations on the same outfit with stupid hats and a couple of the exact same fur things she's already made multiple times before. As for the "warrior" look, they all just looked like ice queens. So when one of the judges said "You know what women you're designing for," I have to conclude he was referring to....Irina.

It wasn't just the decision that made this finale such a let-down. Everything about it seemed second-rate. Michael and Nina often looked apologetic/embarrassed/unconvinced by what they were saying. There were no contestants from seasons past there for the show. The biggest guest judge they could get was...a Susan Boyle look-alike? Plus I spent the whole time wondering if the designers were being blue screened in, since I had heard they weren't allowed to show themselves at the time for spoiler reasons.

Anyway, yes, Carol Hannah was robbed, but the more important thing is that this season is over. Next year is back in New York and back to normal, this LA experiment an unpleasant memory behind us. And if moving back to New York doesn't help, then well, I guess we're even bigger suckers for still watching it.

On a happier note, Glee was so good this week that I almost didn't realize there was no Sue Sylvester. Though that did make for one of the more dramatic episodes, with many honest and emotional scenes and, yeah, some crying. But all of the pregnancy drama with the parents was treated in enough of a realistic and un-melodramatic way that it worked, and made Finn and Quinn both more interesting as characters.

Still, what made the episode worth writing about was the Will and Rachel storyline. First we got a hilariously awkward duet of "Endless Love" in which Rachel chased Mr. Shu around with "crazy eyes" while he made horrified expressions. Then, even better, a mash-up (why are Glee's mash-ups always so good?) from Will of "Don't Stand So Close to Me" and "Young Girl." The more into his message he got, the more excited Rachel (and Emma!) got to be watching him.

Closing out the episode with a feel-very-good group number of "Lean on Me," it was an episode with a lot of music and a lot of heart. Thankfully Sue's back next week to wreak some havoc and bring in the funny, but this episode's more realistic tone helped balance out some of the wackier stuff. Ryan Murphy's come a long way from Nip/Tuck.


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