We can all bitch and moan about what’s become of our beloved Runway in season five, but the signs were already there. Even The USA Today had noticed that winning big on Project Runway was even more meaningless in the fashion industry than an American Idol win was for a musical career, and Bravo set out in season four to collectively skullfuck us until we remembered the names of their chosen disciples. Season four brought us the “Show Us How You Rethink Design” commercials and spawned Christian Siriano’s circlejerk cameo on Ugly Betty. Christian, in spite of finally showing a genuinely likeable outpouring of delight when he took the prize, was more of a cartoon than a human being for most of the show.
How many long months and Top Chef casts did we wait between seasons three and four of Project Runway? By the time the commercials were aired, we were so happy that we didn’t even stop to snark about how we couldn’t tell it Bravo’s advertising staff was punning on “It’s Show Time” or “It’s so time” (emphasis, hopefully, implied by Bravo ad execs). We were all so pleased with Christian that we all let it slide when those same people told us that casting was already underway for another season—send in your audition tapes, y’all!
We lapped it all up with a spoon and the Weinstein’s mistook our ravenous need for more Runway with genuine approval of their formula. This season, we’re reaping what we’ve sewn: the product placement challenges are more pronounced and the focus is on a cast of characters who could sell real estate for David Mamet; while the challenges have been phoned in like Stephen King pitching his next book. If Runway has any hope of a future at Lifetime or anywhere else, the Weinsteins are going to have to realize that their success depends on more than just Tim Gunn saying “Thank you, Mood” in the most homosexual way possible.