Project Runway

I don't get much time to watch TV. Don't get me wrong, I love TV. I love daytime TV, I love celebrity gossip TV, I love VH1 countdowns, I love Seinfeld reruns, I love just about anything except prime time TV, because that usually blows. And that's a good thing, because by the time we get the kid to bed, do the dishes, return e-mails and whatnot, we're lucky if we can catch one late-night Simpsons before we conk out. That is, if we're both not into the books we're currently reading. Or if there's not an Us Weekly magazine lying around to capture my attention like a little cat toy with a bell inside. Oooh, pictures of Paris Hilton -- ding-a-ling-a-ling...

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The thing I love the most about TV these days is the DVD releases of seasons of shows that I never got to watch when they were on. Especially all those killer HBO shows like Six Feet Under (oh, wherefore art thou Season Five, I'm dying out here!) and Curb Your Enthusiasm. I am currently obsessed with Season One of Lost, but as I am only halfway through it (and jonesing til the weekend when we can dive back in and stay up til 1 a.m. with reckless abandon), that gushing review will have to wait. But let me tell you one other fantastic thing about TV: Project Runway.

The advantage of getting hooked on a Bravo series is that they are usually on late at night, after the kids go to bed, and they rerun the current episode ad nauseum for the entire week so you never feel like you're gonna get screwed if you miss one. Since I would never invest in a Tivo, this is extremely generous of Bravo. Season Two of Project Runway just started, and trust me, now is the time to dive in and get hooked. It totally rules.

I stumbled upon Project Runway last time around just by accident, and was completely sucked in by the format of it. Unlike most reality shows, which consist of beautiful people either trying to sing, eat gross stuff, win a bunch of money or get married, this one is about ART. The participants on this show are aspiring (or already successful) fashion designers competing for the chance to show their designs at Fashion Week and win some cash to start their own line. So, assuming you like fashion (which I do, even though my hips and thighs preclude me from ever participating in such nonsense), and assuming you like arts & crafts and really quirky funny people, Project Runway is for you.

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Even though the show is hosted by annoying but endearing supermodel Heidi Klum, with her chirpy, Germanic catch phrase "Either you're in, or you're out," and judged by such middling luminaries as designer Michael Kors, the bitchy editor of Elle magazine, and soggy guest judges like Diane von Furstenberg, the contestants are usually incredibly creative and driven people. Most of the show is spent watching them work furiously in the Parsons School of Design fashion workroom under the watchful eye of Parsons fashion guru Tim Gunn, who basically storms in shouting "15 minutes people!" or stands behind them as they work and says really evil things like "I don't see where you're going with this," just to totally stress them out. I love Tim Gunn. Meanwhile these poor souls are designing clothes with crazy limitations set on them like: use only materials found in a grocery store! Or: must double as a functional swimsuit and an evening gown!

The contestants on Season One were so captivating in their confidence, their sense of style, and their work ethics that I was entranced by them, especially Austin Scarlett, the swishy femme boy with full face make-up and attitude to burn. And Kara Saun, the no-nonsense hot mama designer from LA who looked like she was gonna win until -- she CHEATED! By commissioning a bunch of fancy shoes for her final show that were not part of her budget! And the winner of last season, Jay McCarroll, whose running catty commentary throughout the season, coupled with his wacky hats, pudgy build, and amazing designs, really kept it all together. I'm so glad he won.

This year appears to be just as cool, if not better, than last year. My front-runner so far has got to be Santino, who in my opinion is HOT HOT HOT, and even if he's knock-down drag out gay, I am glad to have a contestant I can lust after. He is about 8 feet tall with greasy black hair and a weird biker/rocker/gypsy look that I find thoroughly delicious. There's even a bit of nail-biting action as the simpy contestant who got cut first last year, Daniel the tailor, is back for another beating.

In addition to the designers, there are of course, as always in fashion -- models! These models get cut from the show as the designers get cut, and although they don't get much camera time (thank god), they do add a bit of pathos to the proceedings, since they're so damn skinny and stupid. Hooray for models.

So please do yourself a favor and check it out. New episodes air Wednesdays at 10 pm on Bravo. And every other day and hour after that til the next one airs. Thanks, Bravo. You're in. You may leave the runway.

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