Posted by Dan November 7th, 2007 at 12:29pm In Project Runway
I’ve made no secret of my love of Canada. Many wonderful things and people come from our neighbor to the north including, but not limited to, Friend of the Faux Vance, David Rakoff, Most Serene Republic and Tim Bits. It’s just like America, only nicer, colder and with a sensible model of publicly funded health care.
So, Canada seems to have it all, right? But I ask you this — can Canada do reality TV? Specifically, if Canada were to have its own version of Project Runway, would it be as good as Bravo’s?
The answer is “almost.”
I can’t help but clap and giggle everytime they say “eh.”
Project Runway Canada (don’t click the link if you don’t want spoilers. Also, the rest of this post is kind of spoilerish.) is not quite the rollicking joyfest that you think of when you think of the Bravo show. When you think of the original version, you think of Michael Kors and Nina Garcia and their catty quips, Heidi and her Germanic squeal, and the always colorful and wacky cast of designers. Last, but certainly not least, there’s the Tim Gunn’s paternal — nay — gay uncle-ial guidance that lends dignity to the proceedings. It’s a tall order to fill and, try as it might, it doesn’t quite satisfy as much as the real thing. The contestants, while diverse and talented, don’t necessarily up the ante as far as drama goes.
Project Runway Canada airs on the Slice network (not affiliated with the delicious citrus soft drink) and is hosted by supermodel/David Bowie better-half Iman. If there’s anything on this show that works better with the Canadian version, it’s Iman in her hosting duties. She commands authority while on the runway and when she offers criticism of the designers, her blunt Somali accent lends an extra punch in the gut. She’s not cute like Heidi, and in the opening credits she looks like an alien. Iman could break you — and don’t you dare forget it.
The format of the show is pretty much the same. Overall, it just seems like a strange dream. Like you woke up in the morning and thought “That was a weird dream. It was like I was watching Project Runway, only everyone was different, the designers were strangely nice and slightly French.”
Like the American version, the producers are constantly throwing the contestants curveballs. The first episode was custom-made to bring out the claws in the designers by having them raid one anothers suitcases for material to make a garment. However, a distinct difference between the Canadian and American Project Runways is the dramatic and flamboyant nature of the designers. I guess it’s a stereotype that Canadians are sensible and polite, and that would seem to hold up given the relative civility that ensued.
The show’s mentor is a guy named Brian Bailey who resembles a more attractive, mature Perez Hilton as portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s an uphill battle, you know, trying to compete with Tim Gunn. He does what he can. For what it’s worth, he is very nurturing and supportive and seems like a totally great guy. That said, he is not Tim Gunn.
The personalities of the designers on PRC are a tad more subdued than the American version, but not by a whole lot. Memorable characters include
- Biddell – the season’s blowhard, identified by his hairstyle, which resembles a tribal tattoo poorly shaved into his scalp. Take a look, you’ll see what I mean. He comes off as a less convincing version of Santino or Jefferey. He seems the most American in terms of trying to stir things up.
- Stephen - delicate Stephen, who makes a big deal of not being able to find a private place to fart in the first episode, always seems to be bearing the brunt of the judges’ criticism.
- Marie Genevieve – the season’s lone French speaker, most memorable for her bold choice in eyewear.
- Megan – is this season’s Marla/Vincent. You always think this is her last week, but she squeaks by every time.
If you want to watch the first episode, it is up on YouTube. Although it is split up in parts.