I stand by my belief that the 11th season was the nicest ever on “Project Runway.” I’m not so sure about the reunion. Though hostess Zanna Roberts Rassi tried to keep everything mostly on the positive side, handing out hugs and compliments, I’m not so sure the designers were quite as lovey-dovey as she wanted them to be.
The first inkling of a deep-seated division came when Kate made a point of apologizing to Amanda for lumping her in with Layana and Michelle as one of the “mean girls” on the show. Even after Zani gave her an opening to retract the whole mean girls indictment, Kate made it very clear that she only feels bad for saying that about Amanda. The other two? Not so much.
Oh, sidebar: there is something uproariously funny about Kate declaring that the designers aren’t Disney princesses WHILE SHE’S WEARING A TIARA.
Anyway, there are more awkward moments, and oddly enough, they all seem to involve Michelle. For the record, I’m a fan of Michelle’s, both of her designs and her pithy commentary throughout the season. She was a great interview, too. Love her hair. But if I’d never seen the show before the reunion, I’d probably go with Kate’s assessment. During the reunion, she seemed irritable, and I have to think some of the other designers, while well-behaved on the episode, must have taken some pot shots at the winner before filming began. For someone who took home a boatload of prizes and bragging rights, Michelle just didn’t seem particularly happy to be there.
As funny as it was to watch Michelle roll her eyes at Patricia’s “crap” designs and flinch whenever the earth mama hugged her, it was somehow less fun to watch Michelle and Daniel banter. I get it. As much as Zani gushed over how “nice” and “inspiring” Daniel was on the show, he isn’t exactly Tim Gunn. There’s a sincerity to Tim that’s notably absent in Daniel.
I sense Daniel can be a lot to take in real life. As the season progressed, he became less and less likable, ultimately getting into snit-offs with other designers like an old Southern gentlewoman. Daniel is devoted to being the nice guy, but his refusal to cop to his uglier feelings is exhausting. When his feelings are hurt, he declares he’s weeping “tears of joy.” After a while, you just want to tell him to be a just get mad already.
When Daniel suggests that Michelle was hugging him for the cameras, then complaining about him behind her back, it’s clearly an old wound he’s been nursing despite his protestations that “what’s past is past.” Michelle admits to being frustrated, which I perfectly understand. But later in the episode, it seemed like she was exchanging looks of exasperation with Amanda and Stanley while Daniel was talking. It was probably hard to resist. We’ve all done it. Michelle freely admits to not being aware of the cameras, and clearly that’s the case. It’s just that would have been a good time to keep those lenses front of mind.
I don’t want to come off as a Michelle apologist, though. She seemed happier when she was an underdog, and on the reunion she still seems attached to that idea, claiming the judges never really connected with her. Whether or not that’s true, it’s a hard idea to buy from the season’s winner.
Michelle and Daniel were never going to be friends, regardless of the conflicts they had on the show. Different aesthetics, different approaches to life, different personalities. But I wished they’d both been able to entirely and sincerely bury the hatchet on the reunion show. I get the impression that there won’t be a lot of hugging in their future. But then, as we were reminded, Michelle doesn’t like to be touched when she’s pissed, so that’s probably for the best.
Do you think Michelle is a mean girl? Do you like Daniel or find him annoying? Did you change your mind about any of the designers from watching the reunion?