Project Runway: The Straight Guy Perspective (S14 Autopsy)


by Andrew Osborne

So, the Season 14 designers gathered one last time for an hour-long Project Runway Junior infomercial…I mean, reunion special…and the results were as ugly as most of the contestants’ runway looks.

Tim starts things off by pretending he didn’t hate the entire season and most of the designers in it, then says, “Ashley, do you think being a plus-size designer was a factor in your win?” — but fails to ask the obvious follow-up, “Or that hydrogen is a factor in water?”

Naturally, everyone instantly pretends Ashley was simply the best designer (and the BRAVEST!!!) and that it didn’t actually have anything to do with her being a plus-size designer (even though being one is VERY BRAVE…and Project Runway is EVEN BRAVER for saying “plus-size” 17,000 times this season…BRAVE!!!!) — and I guess they’re right about her not “just” being a plus-size designer, because her Fashion Week runway looks would have looked terrible on models of any shape or size.

Then Tim asks Kelly about her second place win and she basically says it was an honor just to be nominated, followed by clips of her winning the real prize:  Nina’s grudging approval (if not her vote to actually win the season).

Another clip package busts Edmond for basically copying all the other designers throughout the season, and then it’s Couc Chocula’s turn to speak…

…at which point, the cameras cut to most of the non-Final Six designers backstage taking a simultaneous pee break, because they (and the editors) apparently hate Candice.

Well, everyone except Pistachio, who pours herself another glass of complimentary champagne and declares, “Life is all about drunk!”  Oh, how I’ve missed the Happy Nut!

But then, after a commercial break, all the backstage designers rush back in to see the reunion’s main event:  Tim’s big rematch with Swapnil (who’s wearing a giant silver disc on his ear, evidently so nobody will shoplift him from the studio).

Once again, we’re treated to the clip of Tim going all ham on the hapless nicotine enthusiast, followed by a helpful explanation that the formerly unflappable mentor only screamed obscenities at him because the contestant wasn’t living up to his full potential.

More damning Season 14 video is shown of Swapnil admitting he initially had a strategy to win that involved pacing himself rather than bravely designing clothes for plus-size women, after which the handsomest man on Earth shrugs that maybe he should’ve tried as hard as the other contestants to pretend they weren’t all just eventually going to lose to Ashley.

Unable to wring any more drama from the resigned, placid Indian (who seems content to simply drown his sorrows in complimentary champagne for the rest of the episode), Tim launches into an odd soliloquy about how the Project Runway editing is totally fair and balanced and “kind to everyone — then caps off that whopper with the awesome Irony Hall of Fame segue, “So, Blake…”

Because, yes, the kid’s table designers have finally been allowed to join the Final Six in the main reunion room, whereupon Tim asks Twinkie the Kid if he’s really as much of a non-time-telling, kaslopis-ignorant dumbass — or, rather, “as naive and innocent” — as he seemed on the show, whereupon he just giggles and disappears behind a handful of glitter and pixie dust.  Or something.  I’d kinda stopped paying attention by that point…

…which turned out to be an excellent strategy, considering the next 15 minutes (or possibly three days) of the reunion involved a grueling recap of the whole “Ashley picked last” fiasco.  Naturally, as a grown adult, you have no memory of the incident, wherein designers were selected for teams via “school yard pick’em” IN A STUPID GAME SHOW CHALLENGE THAT OCCURRED WEEKS AND WEEKS AGO.

Unfortunately, it seems the soul-crushing slight is still as painful to Ashley as any other incident in her whole life where she’s been criticized, looked at funny, or not sufficiently showered with praise, and so she starts weeping as she relives the trauma once again (with the formerly-adorable-but-now-just-shrill Laurie shrieking about all the other cackling mean girls who conspired to vote her out or dump pig’s blood on her head or whatever).

Someone points out that the male designers could just as easily have picked Ashley for their team, but Joseph explains the men just figured it would be easier to work together since they were all rooming together.  “When did we decide that?” Swapnil asks, confused, momentarily looking up from his 14th glass of champagne to discover the cameras are still rolling.  “You were out smoking,” Joseph replies, hilariously.

Meanwhile, the “mean girls” try to explain, with varying levels of tact, that nobody wanted to pick Ashely ’cause they thought she’d be a giant pain in the ass — a prediction which instantly came true when she got all sulky after the other designers had opinions and didn’t just do exactly what she wanted to do.

Lots of Maury Povichian yelling and finger-wagging ensue as Ashley and Laurie (and Blake, ferchrissakes) chastise the others for being a big mean clique of bullies…but, sorry, guys:  being anti-bully isn’t the same as simply giving the emotional wreck everything she wants, always.

Other reunion observations:

  • I love that Pistachio and the Cuoc Lestat have the exact same haircut. How did I never notice that before?
  • Who the hell was that bearded, pony-tailed guy with the thick Australian accent?  Was he on the show?
  • Blake and Pistachio drunkenly pairing up + Jake saying, “Remember, he doesn’t know where the kaslopis is” = best Reunion moment.
  • Once the reunion reminded me of Gabrielle’s existence, I realized she probably could’ve matched Ashley tear for tear if she’d stayed on the show longer…so thank God she didn’t.

But the real highlight of the reunion was Kelly scoring the made-up $25,000 “won most challenges” prize (a.k.a., the “okay, we all know you should’ve won the season” award)…

…and that’s it for Project Runway ’til next year (since the thought of Kelly Osbourne snarking at teenagers every week just makes me break out in hives).

See you for awards season!


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