We’ve all seen the cooking competition shows where contestants must make unique dishes from a range of uncommon and often conflicting ingredients. It comes as no surprise that the creation of food should go hand-in-hand with a one hour television show. After all, cooking is usually a brief affair, and chefs are expected to whip up meals for hungry patrons in a matter of minutes.
Upon hearing of the television series Project Runway, created by prolific reality television fount Eli Holzman, you would probably experience a great deal of curiosity as to how the concept is done. The show pits a group of fashion designers against each other in a competition to see who can design the best outfit for a series of fashion shows. One outfit is designed for each episode (which surely takes longer to complete than a plate of spaghetti). The challengers compete against each other in twelve elimination-style events before a panel of industry veteran judges. The winner ultimately gains $100,000, glory within the fashion community, and industry support so that they can sell their designs to a wider audience.
As if the idea weren’t original enough, the show also enjoys a patchwork of new concepts to spice it even further. A second layer of competition is introduced to this double-decker, as the models used by the designers are also forced to run the gauntlet of the popularity game, with one model being eliminated every week.
Challenges are rarely just straightforward fashion design challenges. As with any popular cooking competition show, such as Chopped, contestants are given specific and often challenging guidelines on the materials to use for each show. One show demanded recyclable materials. Another required the use of glow-in-the-dark paints. Couple these unexpected diversion from our pre-conceived notions about how a runway show should be operated with fashionista judges who are hilariously devoted to the industry and you have some compelling television even for those who don’t know the difference between silk and satin.
Project runway has just entered its 15th season, so it’s too early to tell how this season will fare overall, but we can expect continued strong performance if we look at last year’s numbers. In its 14th season, the show consistently pulled in over two million viewers. This is an astounding number, especially considering the demographic skew in the show: the number of women who watch this show dwarfs that of men. It is significant to note that among women, the show has been known to reach the number one program on cable television for females in terms of viewership.
Critical and public opinion is also strong. Runway has been nominated for Emmy awards and it was about to take a Peabody award in 2007. Online, it holds the rare distinction of having a 7.3 in audience rating from IMDb from 8,000 user votes. The rating is rare because of its content. At first glance, this is a very mainstream television show about the world of celebrity and fashion, which tend to addict people to the flaunting of wealth and pointless drama, but be derided as fuller programming critically. Followers who prefer Metacritic were somewhat less kind to it in its inception, giving it around 5 out of 10 for its first couple of seasons, although recent votes have brought it above the 6.0 mark. It currently stands at 70 out of 100 among professional critic reviews gathered by Metacritic.
Fans can rest assured that the popularity of the show is not lost on the magnates who control Lifetime and the Weinstein Company, the two businesses which are passing the show amongst them like a hot potato. So assured are they of Runway’s continued success that they have renewed it for three more seasons. Since 2013, the show’s new season appears at the end of summer or beginning of fall, so you should expect to see season 16 sometime around August of 2017, give or take a month.
Are you watching season 15 of PR? Do you buy the fashion lines of contestants of this show? What do you think of Tim Gunn’s media push to
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