I haven't done a reality TV post in a while, but I've got a very complex thing I want to say which involves Project runway. Lets see if I can get my wires untangled well enough to say what I mean.
Michelle Lesniak Franklin won project runway. I just watched the final episode so I found this out today. IMichelle was not my pick. I really respected Waterlilly (Patricia). She endured Nina's loathing of her ascetic (not to mention the made for TV acerbic comments) week after week.( Neither Waterlilly nor the audience knew if she had finally gotten the axe. Heidi's vote pulls a lot of weight, but it's not a guarantee.) She never once complained, though on more than one occasion she wept after the runway. I was swept away by her creativity and I saw in her work, a muse for future designers.
Marching to the beat of ones own drum is not easy and, if you're any good, it creates the kind of debate we saw on Project Runway this season. I really respected Waterlilly by the end of the show. She really went through a lot and including What's His Name's attempt to sabotage Waterilly by making nothing. (Since it was teams, the judges could and did kick designers off for the work f other designers.) Tim Gun pointed out this tactic so he wasn't able to throw blame at Waterlilly (though the judges still gave her plenty that week in deliberations.) Perhaps my favorite part of the show were his "Oh, shit, what am I going to make in the allotted time left" eyes.
Then there was Michelle, who is very talented, but whom I found out of touch with reality. Early in the show (like the second or third episode) Michelle started telling the cameras "I've been through so much," even stated a couple of times that she deserved to win because she had been through so much as compared to the other designers. Meanwhile, she had like two weeks where the judges had anything negative to say and even then it was, we'll it's not as good as it could be.
So, I cringed at Michelle's lone wolf story and that bleeding heart T-shirt. To be clear, the clothes (besides that ugly t-shirt) were cool. It's just the emotional story behind it, no matter how much she believed it to be true, was not.
But Michelle's aesthetic and emotional world is speaking to a very modern adult. The kind that go to therapy and feel suicidal even though they are not damaged. There was a contestant on the Glee project who got a lot of flack for not being damaged enough. These thoughts inspired a character sketch:
Kate wore black quilted jeans reminiscent of motocross pants. She bought them in the mall for two-hundred dollars. She had never been and would never go to a motocross event. With the pants she had purchased a yellow sweater with a bleeding heart on the front and sleeves that looked like they had been dipped in blood. The shirt had cost three hundred and fifty which Kim didn't mind paying because she felt it represented all the pain in her life. What this pain was she couldn't quite place. She felt as though she had been through a lot and yet, as she told her counselor, "My parents love me, I have great friends, my family makes sure all my needs are met and then some. I don't have single childhood trauma and when I graduate college I've already got a job offer waiting for me."
The real problem was connecting with people. The world is a fucked-up place, but Kim didn't have enough emotional scars. So she set out to get damaged.
College campuses have been met with the kind of character above and in some areas psychologists are scrambling to understand what happens when the needs of children are over met. This is not the same as spoiling. Spoiled children are shallow. Even though I think Michelle's perspective of what she's been through is askew, she is not shallow.
At any rate, I suppose there isn't a specific point to this topic. I found the dynamics of the show this season very interesting. I wanted to Patricia to win, but writing a character like Michell would be something I've never done.
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).