‘Project Runway’: Why is this the season of the meltdown?

Last night’s episode of “Project Runway” had a great deal going for it, didn’t it? Jesse Tyler Ferguson! Bow ties! A trip to Mood! Some exceptional designs (Cam’s and Bradon’s come to mind) walked the runway! Alas, all of that was overshadowed by Sandro. Sandro, who’d seemed like a somewhat eccentric, mostly tasteless addition to the show (remember when he sent that model down the runway with her vajayjay showing? Oh, how we laughed!), proved himself to be less quirky fun than entirely unhinged.

Of course, this was reality TV gold, so the episode started with his meltdown, then returned to it at the end of the show so we could hear every bleep and, whenever possible, read lips to fill in the gaps. F word! S word! C word! Something Russian! Whoot!

If this show was part of “The Real Housewives” franchise or maybe WWE, I guess this would be fine and dandy. But “Project Runway” has always distinguished itself as a show about something other than (just) bickering. While I don’t think anyone always agrees with the judges about who should be saved and who should go (or even who should win — Gwetchen? Still pissed about that one), usually we can see why certain people are on the show. Some designers seem to stick around much longer than their talent warrants because a producer has (allegedly) impressed upon the judges the need to keep them around for ratings, but at least this was ostensibly a show about fashion and design. This season, I’m not so sure. 

There have always been meltdowns on “Project Runway,” and the show is set up to make them happen. Design an evening gown in a day! Out of paper plates! On three hours of sleep! Yay! But this time around, meltdowns are coming fast and furious from designers who, realistically, have no business being on the show in the first place. As other designers pointed out time and again, Timothy (who got the boot last week) had few skills and seemed more interested in unicorns and his own completely delusional take on what it means to be green than actual design. Sandro has been flailing since the first week, unclear on what the judges expected from him (hint: decent clothing) and frustrated that his ability has gone unrecognized. I will gladly admit that Sandro had exceptional skills (despite that horrible bathing suit, he could clearly make a dress), but the judges seemingly rolled their eyes whenever any of his clothing hit the runway. 

Given how long this show has been on the air and what we know about the audition process, it’s hard to believe either Timothy or Sandro made the cut. Wasn’t whatever Sandro submitted taste-challenged back then, too? Weren’t the clothes that Timothy showed off just as ugly as the stuff he made for the show? I’m sure every design student in America is trying out for their shot at “Project Runway.” It’s hard to believe that colorful, clever AND talented designers aren’t coming out of the woodwork. 

But no, we get mentally unstable ninnies or questionable abilities, and “Project Runway” gets theatrics. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the bickering, the snide commentary, the arguments when they happen. Often, this just seems reflective of how creative people work together while under pressure. But when much of the (already painfully extended) episode is devoted to cray-cray, the only people missing out, really, are viewers. And maybe Sandro and Timothy. I’m sure their meltdowns aren’t doing much for their careers. 

Do you think “Project Runway” has gone too far? 

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