Image Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime TelevisionLast week, we got a peek into what kind of person Jason might be — namely, a creep. But trying not to be judgmental for once, I thought to myself, Okay. So maybe he’s got some pervy tendencies, wears a stupid hat, and made an outfit you’d expect to find in Vidal Sassoon’s dumpster. He could still show a promising side! Well, forget that. After last night’s episode, it has now been scientifically proven that Jason is a grade-A jerk with no integrity and even less talent. As funnyman Michael C. put it, “Jason’s kind of creepy. You never know if he’s gonna come behind you with the scissors.” Cue the Psycho shower scene music and maniacal stabbing gesture.
Before I get into all the gory details of Jason’s supreme d-baggery, let’s tackle what these crazy kids had to accomplish this week. Steely Marie Claire editor-in-chief Joanna Coles returned to the Runway universe to deliver the challenge: Design an outfit that tells us plebes at home who the Marie Claire reader is. The winner gets his or her look plastered on a 40-foot tall billboard in Times Square. If the stakes were high enough to be deemed “operatic” (by cutie Christopher), then the time allotment was grindhouse peep-show: the standard one day since the show moved to Lifetime. Sigh. Oh, how we pine for those cushy two-day challenges.
Peach started off on shaky ground, choosing fabric she feared was too same-old, same-old and spinning her wheels in a sandy pit of creative frustration. She scrapped two outfits before settling on a third. But even then, she went home feeling “defeated.” Casanova, meanwhile, got dissed by competitive (and emotional — he’d later weep upon making it to safety) A.J., who refused to help him pattern. But el Señor Lothario fared better with generous Gretchen. She helped him with styling and designing, then unsuccessfully tried to get him to add the phrase “bosom buddies” to his vocabulary. “Bosoms,” she said, waving her hand around her chest. “Boobs?” Casanova wasn’t into it. He suggested they settle for “hip buddies.” What, not a breast man, Casanova? I’m shocked.
Elsewhere, oddball Mondo barely made it through his compulsive list-making before flinging himself into a pit of tortured-artist loneliness. At the Atlas apartments, he moped around by himself. In confessional, he expressed fear that he’d never be loved for who he is, only for what he can create. “As an artist, I feel like, this gift and talent is a curse to me sometimes,” he said through tears. (Sniff!) Yet by the next morning, Mondo was back to feeling mondo chipper. I think I know what helped him snap out of his soul-devouring funk: subtly branded technology! “While I was scrolling through the HP Touchsmart….” he said, oh-so-casually. I didn’t even bother writing down the rest of the sentence because let’s get real here: The only reason that soundbite even made the cut was so Runway could collect a check from HP and implant the words “HP Touchsmart” into our brains. Mission accomplished, you wily producers! Next week I’ll probably dream of all the things I want to buy on Piperlime.com. NOT! (To quote the vernacularly current Heidi Klum.)
Anyway, after a photo shoot that gave me flashbacks to Tyra and her stable of gays’ ridonkulous antics on Top Model, it was time for the runway show. Among those middle-packers who qualified for the next round, I was … :
++ meh on Christopher’s ensemble. Pretty enough, but not so much the yellow under-trim.
++ not a fan of A.J.’s pregnant-with-an-alien-creature bumblebee mini dress. Also: punk rock is not Marie Claire, and no woman, MC reader or not, wants to dress like Courtney Love.
++ intrigued by Christopher D’s so-short-the-model-tugged-it-down black mesh dress with crazy butterfly wings.
++ bored out of my skull by Ivy’s beigey gray snoozer. Zzzzzzzz…
++ puzzled by Sarah’s tweedy dress with cranberry bodice and weird stripey things on the shoulders. Also, ever since my friend Francisco said she could be Lady Gaga’s older sister, I can’t think of anything else when I look at her. See for yourself!
++ impressed with Andy’s wide-leg trousers (even if I could never wear ’em) and fuschia top with funky surprise-accordion sleeves.
++ unimpressed by Casanova’s dowdy navy jacket and ho-hum ivory skirt. From prostitute to virgin, indeed. Next week: crack house!
++ feeling like I’m already over Kristin’s sloppy, when-in-doubt-bunch-that-shizz-up! calling card.
++ distracted by the terrible droopy fit of the bodice on April’s bipolar purple-people-eater-collar dress. Still, an improvement on her bizarro jumpsuit from last week.
All three top designs get the thumbs up from me. I really dug Mondo’s feminine, layered skirt and black top with frilly pink bib ruffle, though it did seem a bit edgy-eccentric for Marie Claire. That might be the only reason why he didn’t win, since all four judges cooed over how wonderfully whimsical it was. And his model worked it! Mondo’s ensemble prompted the “very powerful” Joanna Coles to say that the great Mary Tyler Moore was the very reason she decided to move to the States. My word, that’s some high praise.
Mondo came in third, which left Valerie and Gretchen to duke it out for the top. I was rooting for Valerie’s little zippered red dress with a nifty collar and gorgeous architectural detailing on the pockets. But then I remembered that the winning design would have to fill a giant billboard. I knew they’d give it to Gretchen. The dark blue color was subdued, but as worn by Gretchen’s stunning model, it was transformed into an effortless, sexy item of functional clothing, albeit one that few women could pull off gracefully. Considering these were the first pants Gretchen ever made without help, I say, hats off. (Especially you, Jason. Seriously. Take it off. Forever.) And since the jumpsuit had an enhanced-cleavage-for-evening-time option, I just knew Heidi Klum was gonna be all over that. So Gretchen won again, adding a second notch to her victory belt just two weeks into the competition.
As for the bottom, yes, Peach deserved to be there, and she knew it: witness her comparing her sad little frock to “Barbie’s sofa.” Now, I happened to like the fabric okay. I once had a throw pillow covered in a very similar material. (Am I sensing an upholstery theme here?) But the execution was horrendous. That fit! That bodice that flattened her model’s chest! What was Peach trying to do with that brown pleating? It’s as if some stray party streamers magically appeared and attached themselves to the dress, uninvited. Kors called Peach’s creation an “Amish cocktail dress,” while Heidi slammed it as “ladies at lunch [sic].” If it’s the latter, then these ladies clearly hit the sauce before getting dressed.
Despite the drubbing, Peach made it through to safety, breezing past Nicholas and Jason. Which brings us back to Public Enemy No. 1. Before I can even get into the monstrosity that was Jason’s “infinity dress,” let us commence the dissection of his numerous displays of d-baggery.
++ I begin with the simple matter of his appearance: the bowler hat paired with a black wife-beater. Great look! So line up, ladies. This one’s a catch.
++ Here’s what he said to the confessional cams after Tim’s unfavorable assessment of the craptacular progress he was making on his craptacular dress: “Everything’s stacked against me. I’m a straight guy in a gay man’s world. … Don’t be so hard on me, man.” Yes, whining and blaming the gays always make for a great strategy. Really shows off a winning spirit.
++ Jason made more excuses, this time about those ridiculous safety pins he slapped on the dress in desperation. “The judges have to look past these closures ’cause I’m not Prototype Jack. I can’t pop things out. It’s emotionally draining and physically draining.” Oh, boo-hoo!
++ Jason also lied to the judges about those safety pins, claiming they were planned all along. Gag.
++ And finally, the death blow: he blamed his model. “I think she’s a beautiful girl, but she’s not a runway model.” Oh no you didn’t! Good for Gretchen for getting pissed off over this one, even if Jason denied ever being so much as in the vicinity of an excuse. I wonder: Is this guy really so deluded and un-self-aware or is it a reality-TV act that backfired miserably?
Whatever the answer, there’s no question that he deserved to have a big, muddy boot implant itself on his arse and shove him out the door. There was absolutely nothing redeeming about his “walk of shame” garment: it fit poorly (see: the hole in the middle) and had miserable construction (pucker up!). Two weeks in a row, he’s forced his lovely model to parade around in unflattering silhouettes that made her slim legs look stocky. It was especially glaring this week, no thanks to those gawd-awful boots. What’s more, Jason set off my perv-alert alarm when he started futzing with the dress on the runway and lifted up the skirt. What is this dude’s deal?
However clear it was that Jason’s time was up, I was fully prepared to see him waltz off to safety for another week at the expense of Nicholas. Because that’s how this show works, right? But for once, the judges made the right choice and resisted the “but he’ll make great TV by pissing people off!” defense. Nope. Buh-bye. True to form, Jason took his bad attitude all the way to the exit, not even bothering to say goodbye to his colleagues. Tim didn’t even get to wish him bonne chance. Freezing out Tim Gunn? That’s cold.
I was also prepared for the judges to hand us another fake-out and merely threaten to send more than one designer packing. But unlike last week (when more than one really should have gone), they rather harshly axed poor Nicholas in addition to Mr. Malcolm McDowell Bowler Hat. To be sure, Neek-oh-lass’ outfit was problematic and over-designed, especially the dowdy cape and weird, naked-back top. (Gretchen accused him of ripping her off — valid claim? Discuss!) But compared to, say, Ivy’s great big snore of an outfit, there really was no cause to send Nicholas home. And the guy can’t catch a break in the editing room. Last week, cameras caught him offering whispered praise of McKell’s red handbag. This week, he was overheard boasting about how hard it would be for the judges to pick a bottom three. Oops. Maybe not so hard. Boy, was he broken up about his elimination. Has a contestant ever sobbed like that backstage? I don’t think so. Poor guy.
What did you think of last night’s episode? What are your thoughts on the new 90-minute filler: contestants eating lunch! saved contestants making guesses as to who’s going home! Do you think Gretchen deserved to win a second time or do you, like sassafras Michael, think Valerie was robbed? Were you surprised that so many of the designers in the backstage huddle defended Jason’s skills? Yay or nay to Mondo’s outfit? Would you have sent Nicholas home? Does Valerie remind you of Shirin from season six? Sound off!