Ken throws a tantrum for the record books during this season's 'Real People' challenge
Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime
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If any of the superfans featured in this episode are reading, holla in the comments!

The show began with what looked like a PSA starring Tim Gunn explaining that this season’s REAL PEOPLE CHALLENGE will feature viewers like all of us who watch Runway every week and are in desperate, dire need of a makeover. The eight “lucky” viewers packed onto a double-decker bus in Times Square like the types of tourists New Yorkers love to hate, and they squealed with delight just seeing the exterior of Parsons School of Design. Clearly, the most desirable of the superfans were Andrea and Jamie; Andrea, for her curves and fierce attitude, and Jamie, for her potential for a dramatic ugly-duckling-into-swan transmogrification. None of the designers were fooled by her Elaine Benes hair or Neighborhood of Make-Believe wardrobe. With her pretty figure and gamine features, she was obviously one glasses-removal away from a Rachel Leigh Cook situation.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Real People Challenge without some of designers griping about having to clothe human beings who are larger than a size 2. Unsurprisingly, Ken and Alexandria, the least down-to-earth designers, were the ones with the most misgivings about the challenge. But it looked like they’d seen how big of an asshat Ven Budhu looked like last year — even they knew that trashing on the “Real” People would be a public relations nightmare, so they restrained themselves … up to a point. More on Ken’s passive-aggressively crappy treatment of his model later.

None of the superfans were tore up by any stretch of the imagination — just busy women without a ton of time for themselves. Alexander’s model Andrea had recently gone from a blue collar job to an office job and needed a suit, which threw Alexander for a loop. Bradon’s model Jennifer — who already started out prettier than most of the Runway models — felt shy and reserved in her normal life and wanted to feel powerful, intimidating, and New York. Justin was paired with Kristen, a Mormon who had recently lost 130 lbs.

The designers seemed to take this challenge especially seriously, and tensions were running high as the Runway production team tried to save money on rent (read: stoke drama) by making Alexander and Bradon move in with Ken and Justin. When the new roommates arrived at the door, Ken, whose giant ego compromises his capacity for common decency, refused to move out of the way while he was ironing his boxer briefs to let Alexander and Bradon in. When Ken finally stepped aside, Alexander acted childishly and effetely swiped some items off of tables, which set Ken OFF.

NEXT: What is this, Toddlers and Tiaras?

Honestly, little man Ken exhibited some borderline anger management problems — all while his face was covered in some sort of pore refining mask. It was hilarious and terrifying at the same time. He looked like a baby Abominable Snowman or pocket-sized Phantom of the Opera screaming his head off and stomping around. “I’m not going to change my living arrangements for no-mother-f-ing-body!” to poor Megan the “talent coordinator.” He kept going on about the sanctity of his “temporary home.” Seriously, who does Ken think he is? That was a diva moment befitting Patti Labelle or Aretha Franklin (thus the title of this recap), not some nobody who thinks he’s somebody because he’s made a fool of himself on a TV show for a few episodes. What a pathetic display. Ken needs to learn some basic kindergarten coping skills.

The next morning, Tim Gunn put on his mediator hat, sitting Ken and Alexander down for some real talk. He was one disappointed papa, and the way he had to separate the remaining boys was absolutely shameful. Clearly we’re not adults here. Alexander and Bradon overreacted when they ran back to their room and locked the door, but Ken was absolutely in the wrong and showed zero guilt. Meanwhile, Alexander was off his game, although the drama from the night before didn’t totally explain his shoddy work on Andrea’s suit. Ken got exactly what he wanted from his tantrum: He got into Alexander’s head, and he got to keep his current living situation.

Behind the scenes at the runway, the superfans gathered in a holding pen of sorts and it was kind of heartbreaking to see how crazy nervous they were. It started to make sense why Bradon’s model Jennifer wanted to feel strong and intimidating — she was crying her eyes out backstage.



I’m sure I’m alone on this, but I thought Jennifer’s “before” pic was better than the after. Maybe I’m just being a typical male, but I almost always prefer longer hair on women, and I thought this hairstyle made her look more soccer mom-ish than before. (Granted, a cool soccer mom). As far as the outfit, it totally achieved her goals of looking fierce, although I thought the shoulders and hem flared out and made her look wider. Filling in for Nina, Zanna Roberts Rassi said it was sophisticated, chic, and powerful without going full-on dominatrix.


I loved, loved this dress! It really paid attention to Kristen’s religious concerns by not revealing too much, and her signature on the front was such a great touch. This was my pick for the win.

Helen — WINNER

I’m not in the least bit surprised by Jamie’s fabulous transformation. The untapped potential was obvious the moment she showed up onscreen. That’s why I think Helen’s win was more about Jamie than the dress, which was pretty but actually looked a little cheap, rushed, and a tad generic up close. However, the overall effect was gorgeous, and I loved Helen’s attitude throughout the challenge.

NEXT: Unhappy customers …



Alexandria’s superfan Stephanie, the youngest of the bunch, wanted an interview outfit for an art gallery job. This was far from a disaster — Heidi said it didn’t look youthful, and Zanna didn’t think it was modern despite the modern art influence — but I could see a 20-year-old on a budget wearing this to an interview … whether she gets the job is another story.


Now this was an unmitigated disaster. Alexander was out of his element the moment Andrea asked for a suit. The idea didn’t look bad in the sketches, but the execution was all wrong. Alexander didn’t even have time to make a proper lining, and there were just random loose flaps of black fabric in the back. He knew he was probably going. Heidi liked the silhouette, but bottom line, he didn’t finish his work.

Ken – OUT

Ken might have finished his look, and his model Susan may have loved it, but Ken deserved to go home. When Ken can find an excuse to blame someone else for a failure, he’ll take it. He did it in the challenge when he was teamed up with Alexandria and Sue, spending more time figuring out how to blame them for their project’s failure than trying to make it a success, and he did it again this week. He may have said sweet words about making his model happy, but he was passive-aggressively insulting his superfan’s taste any chance he got. He didn’t give the dress his full effort because he knew he had an excuse he could fall back on — it’s what his client asked for. It was his job as a designer to help his client see beyond her immediate preferences, and the result was uglier than Alexander’s disaster. Also, I loved that Heidi named herself the “boob patrol” … Um, Heidi, do you remember your out-of-bounds cleavage exposure two seasons ago? I’m not sure you’re the best candidate for the job.

Thank goodness Ken is out. Tim threw a little shade at Ken when he told him to clear out his workstation — none of the usual warm fuzzies tonight!

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