Project Runway: The Straight Guy Perspective (S14, Episode Five)


by Andrew Osborne

Gunn. Tim’s gun. That’s the signal for this week’s challenge, wherein Project Runway salutes the history of fashion by pitting the designers against each other on a paintball field…y’know, just like Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani during their infamous 1978 showdown in Milan!

But first, the contestants must choose up sides, with Blake picking first (in a painful reminder that he’s still on the show and actually won immunity last week).

The Cucoco of the Damned  is button bagged into a leadership role for the second team, and inexplicably selects Perna first, ultimately winding up with an all female squad.  Sadly, Ashley gets picked last by Team Estrogen, which is extremely unfortunate — partly because she’s a talented designer who deserves better, but mostly because she doesn’t stop whining about it for the entire rest of the episode.

Meanwhile, Blake finds himself captaining an all-male group (plus Merline) as the designers head out to a paintball field to grab ugly bolts of fabric while dodging their adversaries’ multi-colored munitions…

…all except Twinkie the Kid, who cowers and hides from the challenge like the ‘fraidy cat in gym class so wimpy even the other geeks wanted to shove him in a locker.

Back in the workroom, bruised yet bonded with paintbattlefield camaraderie, Team Boys + Merline immediately start planning their collection (and, perhaps, a big musical number for the episode finale) using their captured fabric, the spattered white jumpsuits they wore during the challenge, and still yet more paint to create a modern take on a ’50s aesthetic.  (Though, of course, Blake is characteristically confused by the design brief, since he doesn’t understand big city clock time, let alone the concept of decades.)

Meanwhile, dysfunction reigns in Cuoco the Impaler’s gynocracy (henceforth, Team Herding Cats).  First, they spatter all their white fabric with paintballs until it appears to be covered in Easter Bunny ejaculate, after which they attempt to cover up their mistake (while theoretically making their various individual looks seem “cohesive”) via healthy swathes of “pantsuit purple” material from the paintbattlefield.

Perna thinks a better plan would be to create looks that are “chic and polished” (as if that hadn’t occurred to anyone else), then worries she might go home thanks to the rotten nature of the team challenge…seeming to forget she’s been on the bottom with every other challenge, too.

On the other hand, it’s not just Perna stinkin’ up the joint as all the members of Team Herding Cats struggle haplessly with their hideous garments — to the point where the outcome of the competition seems so blatantly predictable that my wife and I can only assume the editors are messing with us.

But, no.  After a brief “outtake” segment where Blake reveals that he misses his cow (information I am in no way prepared to process at this point), the two teams hit the runway for the fashion equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters vs. that sad, dorky team that never gets to beat them.

TEAM BOYS + MERLINE:

Blake kicks things off with a cute, breezy look that I have to (and hate to) admit I like a lot.

Joseph’s outfit resembles a groovy air hostess uniform (in a good way).

“Very ’50s” says my wife, Amy, of Swapnil’s look.

Jake: I dig the cape and collar.

Merline: “Too all over the place,” my wife says (though, on second glance, I decide it’s my fave of the week).

Edmond: “Oh, I really like that,” Amy coos, and I concur.

TEAM HERDING CATS:

Ashley:  “That’s a cute little jacket,” says my wife.

Laure’s look isn’t memorable at all (which is actually a good thing in this grouping)…

…as opposed to Hipster Lindsey’s, which is far more noticeably not good.

The Vampire Cuoco’s outfit is like a pile of laundry.

Boston Kelly:  a boob-strangling home ec. disaster.

And finally, “Uch, it’s a tent,” says Amy of Perna’s seeming salute to dear departed Pistachio’s unflattering, shapeless aesthetic.

After the runway, my wife thinks Swapnil or Edmond should win and a blonde — any blonde — should go home.

The judges partially agree, granting Edmond his second victory.

But then, a strange thing happens as the show suddenly morphs into Survivor, with a mean girl alliance on Team Herding Cats inexplicably uniting to throw Ashley under the bus (while Bram Stoker’s Cuoco, the apparent ringleader, also takes a shot at Laurie, Ashley’s only defender in the group).

Fortunately, the judges see right through the blame-shifting, and Barnabus Cuoco is impaled on her own petard, winding up in the bottom two…

…though, of course, it’s Perna who ultimately walks the plank, despite her continued claims that she’s just a victim of circumstance and the Auf! isn’t solely her fault.*

(*Note:  it was solely her fault.)**

(**Note:  Well, and also judges’s fault for casting her in the first place.)***

(***Note:  And that’s all for now…see you next week!)

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