In which I overthink Project Runway

This season has seen the return of Project Runway to New York, and let's hope that Lifetime never makes the mistake of moving it elsewhere again. It's not PR if Nina and Michael aren't regular judges, and while the previous season was lackluster mainly because of blah contestants, the absence of those two didn't help. (Attention Lifetime executives -- also, please fire the person in charge of your online viewing. It's awful.) This season is so very much better, more so since they got rid of soporific Anna and lunatic Ping.

However, the timing still seems very wonky. New York Fashion Week is going on right now, and there are still nearly a dozen contestants to go on the show. (For those of you unfamiliar with the show who are still inexplicably reading this post, the top three contestants get to show a collection at Fashion Week, which is the basis for determining the winner.) This means that there were seven decoy collections shown this week to avoid spoiling the remaining episodes.

The first season the only decoy to show was Austin Scarlett (a man so gay he makes me look like Steve McQueen). Now, obviously the whole point of competing in Project Runway is to win, but thus far only one winner has had the combination of charisma and talent necessary to actually emerge as a serious, up-and-coming American designer. For both the winners and the runners-up, showing at Fashion Week is a big deal, bringing them to the notice of the major labels and landing them good jobs in the industry.

By including ten designers in the show, it makes it too long and dilutes the attention of the people in attendance. While this is all very well for the people who otherwise wouldn't have made the cut, for the better designers it diminishes the value of making it so far. Further, it devalues the impact of the show itself, and weakens its brand.

Much of what I love about Project Runway is how it showcases genuinely talented people (for the most part), and actually helps them advance in their chosen, highly-competitive careers. I'd hate to see it lose its mojo, and hopefully the people at Lifetime are savvy enough to figure this out.

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