I really wanted to title this recap "A Blaffair to Rememblack" because I am excited for 30 Rock's season premiere next week and saying that cracks me up, but alas this episode has nothing to do with my favorite show or with Tracy Morgan (who, by the way, is Twittering and it is wonderful). In actually related news, Epperson has also joined Twitter! He hasn't Tweeted much yet, but that is in keeping with his silent but deadly presence on the show. Not to imply that he's farty--that's not true, and also I'm stealing a Korsism. They should make a remake of The Exorcist and call it the ExKorsist and have Michael Kors play the priest and say things like "She looks like her ass is in her front." (ACTUAL QUOTE, by the way, from Season 4. So fitting). No? No. Okay, my ideas aren't all gems.
So this morning I was walking to the subway and mulling over the contestants' chances of winning this season, debating whether or not I should make a bold move and try to call the winner now (although, on second thought eight weeks in is not so bold....). It's not like there's much at stake -- if I'm right, I get to brag, and if I'm not, no one cares. Except me, of course. I care. I've been watching reality shows for so long that by now I should be the Nate Silver of elimination odds.
Here are my theories about what it takes to win this show and what it means:
Theory: Assholes Never Win... Unless They Tattoo Their Babies Names on Their Necks
If a contestant is openly combative, mean or obnoxious on a consistent basis, they will not win. (Keep in mind that bitchy does not equal asshole, especially when gay men are concerned. A healthy dose of good-natured bitchiness could catapult someone into the lead a la Christian Siriano). Assholes will probably be kept around for a while for entertainment purposes, but mark my words: they never win. The only exception to this rule is the asshole with a powerful mitigating factor. Take, for example, Jeffrey Sebelia from Season 3, who could be an asshole but was also a recovering drug addict AND had an adorable son who got trotted out every so often to remind us that Jeffrey was reformed.
What this means: All of the assholes on this show are unrepentant and have no mitigating factors, so tells us nothing. Wow, what a waste of a paragraph.
Theory: The Editors Know All
Keep in mind that editors have a TON of footage to work with. If we are seeing something, we are seeing it for a reason. Particularly in talking head interviews, if we see a lot of footage of someone being a bitch (cough -- Irina -- cough), the editors probably want you to think he or she is a bitch. Same goes for the nice guys. Bottom line: the producers are helping to form our opinions of the characters, and 9.9 times out of 10, they are trying to get us to feel good about the eventual winner.
What this means: Irina and Nic are out of the serious running. Not that one might not make it to Fashion Week.
Theory: Winners Rarely Have a Smooth Road
Everyone loves an underdog, and the producers know this. So look for someone who struggles in the first half of the season to take the crown. Interesting factoid: With the exception of Season 1 winner Jay McCarroll, every single Project Runway winner has at some point been in the bottom 2, giving us pretty decent odds that the eventual winner will narrowly miss elimination at some point.
What this means: Christopher fits this bill the best, but Logan or Gordana could be dark horses.
Okay, on to the show! Last week Heidi (and Macy's) whimsically chose a color instead of a challenge, but sadly blue was not becoming on anyone, least of all Louise, whose cruel and unusual use of Muppet fur sent her packing.
This week's show begins with a close-up on a pan of sizzling bacon and then cuts to Logan. Kudos to the editor whose idea that was. Next week, let's kick it up a notch with kielbasas. In the women's bunker, Irina sips orange juice and looks malevolent, two things I didn't know could happen simultaneously. Gordana talks about how she still has her health while looking kind of wan, and as the boys leave their apartment we see that their blackboard reads "Bring it on, Klum!" Oh, it's already been broughten.
On the runway, Heidi appears wearing a top that looks like repurposed hospital scrubs. I know she was not yet pregnant with baby #4 when the show filmed, but I like to think that if she had been, her strong German constitution would allow her to pop it out and be back at work within hours. She informs the designers -- none of whom have immunity this week--that they have new models. And then. Oh, and then. Out come nine women in wedding dresses, some of them looking like they date back to when Luke and Laura got married (for the first time) on General Hospital.
Heidi explains that these women are all divorcees. And can I just say -- while I would not pass up the chance to appear on ProjRun (ahem, producers...), you would have to pay me a LOT of money to stand onstage in front of millions of viewers in my wedding dress after having just gone through a painful divorce. Right? This challenge has the potential to be moving but also sad. The "brides" introduce themselves, and while some of them have been divorced for 16 years, others have only just separated from their spouses. The challenge for the designers will be to repurpose the womens' wedding gowns into new outfits that reflect their new leases on life.
The designers' names are drawn out of my favorite sack, and it's immediately clear that all anyone cares about in picking a "model" is how much fabric they have to work with, so the giant, poufy, Luke-and-Laura gowns get snapped up right away, while the simplest white column is the last to go (to Shirin, who is none too pleased). She notes that the dress she has to work with is 100% polyester. Ah, Polyester Bride. I listened to that song so much my freshman year of college. Reminds me of dELiAs catalogues and Dubra vodka. Shudder.
Tim comes to the workroom to debrief the group. He tells the designers that the winner of the challenge will have immunity but that it will be the last immunity of the season, and he's so grave when he says it you'd think the Project Runway immunity was the last H1N1 vaccine in the country.
The designers consult with their clients. Epperson's says that she wants to "show my me" in her dress. So... what, like a snap-crotch deal? I kid, I kid. She means her innermost soul. Nic's model is a tiny woman who demands no wool, no leather and no fur, although she is wearing what looks like fur around her neck. Shirin's model is a sassy, young divorcee who wants something "supafly" and "funky." She actually says she wants her dress to look like a Cher costume, and then Shirin interviews that she doesn't have enough fabric to make a Cher costume. Um, what? Honey, have you not seen this? You could make one out of dental floss and cocktail napkins. For the love of God, sack up.
Over at Mood, everyone has $25 to buy up to two yards of additional fabric to supplement what they already have. Shirin goes straight for the feathers (atta girl), while Logan looks for a nice herringbone wool with which to make a pair of pants. Epperson doesn't really know what he's going to do but intones in his soft, silky, yoga-master way that he has to make it work.
Back at FIDM, Carol Hannah tells us that she actually used to make a living making wedding dresses, so to tear one apart feels wrong. Irina thinks the concept of repurposing a relic of a failed marriage into a new look is empowering. And then, in a Very Special Moment that actually almost makes me cry, seeing as I've just watched The Office wedding and I'm all mushy, Gordana says that since she herself has been divorced, she needs to be mentally strong going into the challenge. We see her on the phone with (I think) her new partner, and her voice cracks as she tells him to tell her kids that she loves them. I have just decided that I want her to win it all. TEAM GORDANA.
Tim comes back to make his rounds. Chris is making a silver bubble dress with a black-and-white floral belt. "Be careful," Tim warns. "You don't want her to look like a cougar." I'm going to try not to be overly mean, but I'll just say that Chris' model already has flame-red hair and a...handsome (and possibly cosmetically enhanced) face, so really there are not enough sensible pumps in the world to de-cougar her. Tim loves Irina's dress, which she has dyed a lovely mocha hue to mask the cheapness of the 100% acetate fabric. Of Epperson's garment, Tim says, "It looks lab coat-y," and seriously, it seems that Epperson has somehow confused his divorcee with Beaker from the Muppets. Logan is struggling with a pair of pants and a weird, corseted top which seem to disgust Tim, but Gordana's is a lovely plum sheath dress that gets high marks. "Just keep telling yourself, 'I'm going to win,'" Tim advises.
Shirin has decided to ignore her model's requests and make a more modest party dress with a black belt and intricate stitching. Tim applauds her decision not to recreate a Cher costume, but Shirin is still worried, and starts to cry. "I refuse to go home for this," she says. Carol Hannah interviews that Logan is freaking out, but Logan's freak-out face is the same beautiful, blank canvas as all of his other faces. Can we see that bacon again?
"I am sending in your divorcees," Tim says, and while that's what they technically are, I wish he'd just say models. I think it's the chipper way he says it, as if, instead of ambling around in high-waisted jeans they're going to come in dancing the Continental like in The Gay Divorcee. Not that a divorced woman can't be happy and glamorous, but I think they're trying too hard to make that point, so it veers into sad and awkward territory. For the most part, the women seem pleased with their garments, although Shirin's model clearly wanted something slinkier. "I'm not interested in making a dress for her to start her new life in," Shirin says. "I'm interested in making a dress that won't get me kicked off." Damn, girl!
The next morning at the dorms, everyone is doing their hair, and I'm shocked -- SHOCKED -- that there are no shots of Garnier products. Shirin dons her yarmulke-like Peter Pan hat (sorry, babe, no matter how often you wear it it's not going to become the Kenley headband of this season) and Epperson interviews that he's not completely confident in his dress. Oh noes! Epperson! You complete me. Don't fuck this up.
The model-vorcees return to the workroom to get their final fittings. Epperson's model loves the dress, which is sort of kimono-esque but with stark black lines on the bodice that remind me of gaffer's tape. Althea's model is so happy she actually cries. Shirin's model doesn't really like her dress, but as Shirin made abundantly clear, she really doesn't care. Christopher's model is also kind of appalled, but puts on her game face (also, you know why I think she looks so cougar-y? Her face is permanently contorted into Blue Steel from Zoolander.) Nic hates the garment he's made, with consists of pants and a strange, lacey vest, but his model loves it. "I want to have your child!" she cries, and Nic gives her a look that I think perfectly reflects what we all are feeling at having to imagine him with actual sexual organs. Logan is frantically rushing to finish his pants, and Irina interviews that they look awful. To the runway!
BTW, in a cute flashback, we see that the Models of the Runway -- who had nothing to do this week but drink (seriously, that is my whole recap of the model show) -- taught the divorcees how to walk. Nic's woman says that in order to look like a real model you just "look like you're better than everyone and look really pissed off." Somewhere off camera, Bitchface nods in tacit approval.
Out on the runway, Heidi introduces the judges. MK is still in the house this week, having faded from atomic orange to a relatively healthy peach color, but in place of Nina Garcia we once again have the delicate blond fashion editor of Marie Claire, who reminds me of Emily Mortimer's "bird bones" character on 30 Rock. Tamara Mellon of Jimmy Choo rounds out the bunch. Here come the brides, y'all.
Okay, first of all, it is a huge coup to get Katie Couric on the show. And this is really beautiful. Dammit, Irina. You may make it to Fashion Week but you cannot win. You will ruin my theories!
While this photo makes the fabric look kind of like McDonaldland's Grimace was harmed in the making of this episode, the dress moved beautifully. I love the dusky purple color. This was my favorite of the bunch, which inevitably means that it won't be in the top three.
Okay, let's break this outfit down: The blouse is no doubt a discarded top from a disgruntled St. Pauli girl (or, perhaps, a waitress at the fictional Captain Hook Fish N' Chips from Fast Times at Ridgemont High). And the uterus-accentuating pants could be from the little-known sister store to Big & Tall, Short N' Dowdy. Logan! What were you thinking? You didn't even give her pockets, and where else is she going to hide the flask of gin she needs to wear this out in public?
Hmmm. Does this remind anyone else of A League of Their Own? Despite the trompe l'oeil bra this lady works it. She knows there's no crying in baseball.
Speaking of Fast Times at Ridgemont Hight, remember that bratwurst place that Rat takes Stacy on their first date? This woman would like to take your order. (I feel like there's a magical circle of references in this week's episode... bacon, which made me think of keilbasa, which is like wurst; two separate Fast Times fictional restaurants; Blue Steel, Grimace; Tracy Morgan; Tom Hanks... what does it all mean?)
Despite looking slightly like a crazed Meg Ryan who just climbed out of a dumpster (or, perhaps, who just went camping with Jennifer Aniston) in the above snapshot, this model worked Gordana's dress. It's so similar to Carol Hannah's in shape and color that it's hard for me to love it completely, but I dig the fan-like pattern and the rock n' roll styling.
You can tell Nic's divorcee loves this, and that does count for a lot, although for me this is an unremarkable, fairly frumpy ensemble that one could easily put together from any Joyce Leslie sale rack.
The empire waist has a widening effect, but I don't even care about that because SPIROGRAPH!!! This dress reminds me of Spirographs, which I forgot existed and, oh, the joy it brings me to remember them. Thank you, Shirin. I tip my obnoxious twee yarmulke to you.
This looks like the product of an entirely different challenge. Like, if they had to source materials from a Red Cross outreach center and Chris grabbed a bunch of those emergency blankets favored by marathoners. He's been so strong this season, I'm not sure why his model ended up looking like a streetwalker who goes by the name Jiffy Pop. But there you have it. If Chris doesn't get it back together next week, I think he's a goner.
After the show, Heidi calls the following designers forward: Carol Hannah, Nic, and Althea. They are obviously safe. The judges love Gordana's punky number, which they think shows that she took a risk, as well as Irina's chic age-appropriate dress. Surprisingly, they also like Shirin's ode to Spirographs, and commend her for not fulfilling her model's dreams of looking quite literally like someone who believes in life after love. And now, for the vitriol: Of Christopher's dress, Michael Kors says she "looks like tinfoil," and Tamara Mellon agrees that there's "too much crumple." Heidi levels her gaze at Epperson's model and says "So, you did not specifically ask for Oktoberfest?" and then the judges argue over whether it is more pirate wench or German bierhaus waitress. When Epperson says that his model might wear the dress on a date, MK says "Her date is leaving." Ouch! Logan's awful blouse gets more Oktoberfest comparisons, and Tamara Mellon declares the pants "a tragedy." They all agree that Logan's look is not only unfortunate but also poorly executed.
Shirin is in, and Gordana... is the winner of this challenge! This fills me with a glee that will ultimately prove short-lived (see below). Irina is in, which leaves Christopher, Logan, and Epperson. Chris is in, being the lessest of three evils (hmmm, that doesn't work).
Now, I know what's going to happen but I can't accept it. As much as I love Epperson, he's been struggling all along, with really only the one bright spot during the movie challenge and even that he didn't win. Logan, on the other hand, has been relatively under the radar but usually impressive, plus everyone wants to bone him so I think he's good for morale. No matter what this elimination sucks. Heidi rehashes the Oktoberfest hatefest, and then says "Logan.... you're in." And then my heart makes the same face Dylan McKay makes when he sees his Dad's car blow up. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
(Hilariously, an email from my mom popped into my Blackberry at midnight. Subject line: "WTF?".)
Oh, Epperson. You were too pure for this show. Go back to your adorable family and forget this ever happened. Eat some bacon and think of Logan, and maybe TP the Michael Kors flagship store. This will all seem like a dream soon.
Just a heads up that next Thursday evening I have work plans that will keep me from watching the show on time ("But I have to watch TV!" does not sound like a great excuse when you say it out loud). I'll probably watch it Friday night and get the recap up Saturday morning. Also, next week Nina Garcia returns from her long soujourn, and you'd best believe she's got glares to spare. Yay!
Follow Una LaMarche on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sassycurmudgeon