I'm a little late in the game (hey, it's me, that's normal when it comes to pop culture), but I have been voraciously eating up episodes of Project Runway, thanks be to Netflix. I watched Season 1 a few months ago and just watched the last episode of Season 2 today.
What an terrific television show. Wish I'd thought of it.
It's well-produced: well shot, written and edited, and even though I know they're cutting it for maximum drama, I get totally caught up in the content and am not distracted by the editing as much as I am with most television. That's good, because I've been trained to notice things like that.
I am not even into fashion. I like clothing, like certain looks, and have my own evolving style, but I am not much interested in the world of fashion. Maybe because, from my perspective, although designers may have a creative vision, and their clothing is often artful, the label and the price tag seem to become more important than the clothing itself. And often, the result is a look that shouts, "Hey, look at me, I spend a lot of money on my clothes." Like, who cares? And listening to people talk about clothing? Not really my thing, either, unless maybe, it's a historical discussion.
But this show is about way more than fashion. The things I love most are exactly the things that drive those designers crazy... challenges like the grocery store challenge or the flower district challenge... the ones that call for creativity and innovation and outside-the-box thinking... the lack of time... the tight budgets.** They start whining, and here I am -- I can't even sew -- scrunching up my face, saying, "Hello, people? Let me at it! I wanna play! It's an adventure! I thought you were a designer! Make it work!" ***
And then there's the people-to-people interaction. The first season seemed a little bit "typical reality show," but the second season -- the impressions, the singing -- often had me laughing hysterically. The chemistry between the designers was phenomenal, even when they hated each other.
So, I accidentally found out the outcome of Season 1 before I had finished watching, which lowered my level of anticipation for the rest of that season. I still liked the episodes, but I already knew the names of the winner and one of the other three finalists, and they weren't people I was rooting for. When the final episode came, I was pleasantly surprised by the collections and not disappointed by the outcome, but I wasn't jumping up and down.
This time around, I studiously avoided stumbling upon such spoilers. Which made the anticipation and excitement that built up for me in those last few episodes even more fun. I was actually sitting on the edge of the seat. And I was so, so excited when it came down to the last two -- I really wanted them both to win. Not a bad place to be watching from.
The thing I really take away from the show, though, isn't the triumph of rooting for contestants who make it into the top three. It is the spirit of creativity, of inspiration, of making something beautiful out of whatever you happen to be given.
Can't wait for the little red envelopes that bring Season 3 to my mailbox. And maybe, just maybe, this year, I'll watch Season 4 with the rest of the world. Just, somebody, please let me know when it's about to start.
* Many of the same points could be made about art, I suppose. Instead of reacting positively or negatively to a painting, a woman once said to me, "Is it by somebody I should have heard about?" Why should that matter? If you like it, and you see something of yourself reflected in it, and it makes you happy or joyful or contemplative, that's what's important, and then, yes, you should find out the name of the artist so you can buy some artwork and help them keep doing what they love. But only because you like the work, not because you want to impress other people.
** Although, really, it always seems like a small fortune to me.
*** Oh come on, you knew that was coming.