To be sure, there were designers who advanced in the program who did not deserve to do so. But always, the show managed to keep around those top skilled designers who were most deserving.
This season, however, the program seems to have gone off the rails, almost from the very first episode. There is no way, for instance, that Ari should have been sent home before Mitchell. In fact, Mitchell should have been sent home in each of the first three episodes. The fact that Poodle Bitch actually felt relief when Mitchell did not make it into the fourth episode says much about the judging this season. It has been eccentric. Poodle Bitch does not feel that there is any way that Louise, but most of all Epperson, or Shirin, should have been sent home this early. Not when Christopher, Logan, Gordana, and Althea remain.
Christopher designed something shoddy, and constructed it badly. Saying he should have gone home this week is slightly unfair; he should have gone home long before this.
The poodle companion Irina Shabayeva is so clearly ahead of everyone else that Poodle Bitch has begun to worry she will be sent home next. The only mitigating factor is that Poodle Bitch notes in the teaser for next week's episode, the program will be cut to show that Irina is to be this season's "Kenley."
Yes, in the most recent episode, Irina was called a "b*tch" by Nicholas-- who admitted Irina was a good designer. Poodle Bitch knows that Nicholas intended "the b-word" as an insult, but of course Poodle Bitch does not see it that way. Based on the teaser for next week, Irina will be the "villain" for the duration of her stay. This is rather unfortunate, but it is a television competition. The viewers, Poodle Bitch included, understand the producers can manipulate their days' worth of footage however they want to create a single episode.
Which leads to Poodle Bitch's main problem with the show this year. The producers-- who, according to the program's disclaimer, have a hand in judging decisions-- have been far too visible an influence on the judges. Clearly, Mitchell was kept around for dramatic purposes. Logan was kept last week, while Epperson sent home, to protect the "distracting" dynamic between him and Carol Hannah. Shirin was sent home this week to maintain gender equality. There is no other explanation.
True to form, Logan presented an outfit designed with seemingly no one in mind (no one real, anyway), and stitched it together as if he were lacking opposable thumbs. But the woodland sprite girl Carol Hannah finds him "distracting," so he must be kept on the show.
That said, Poodle Bitch has been utterly mystified by Althea's continued presence. She has done nothing of interest, and has indeed created a couple of quite egregious outfits. Moreover, the producers have found very little footage of her to use the last couple of weeks. One would be forgiven for thinking Althea had already been sent home.
Poodle Bitch is happy to note that she is not the only one to notice the problems with this season. The ratings have taken a serious tumble since the first episode's high.
One factor is that "Runway" has run headfirst into the start of the broadcast fall season, whereas its final Bravo round aired during the summer. Still, "Runway" usually climbs as the finale draws closer no matter what time of year it airs.
Poodle Bitch believes an even more important explanation for the show's continued decline in fortunes is that it has lost sight of what it was. A competition based mostly upon merit. Yes, one or two instigators would get judged less harshly, but the producers' manipulations were always more subtle than they've been this year. The fan base for this show does not come to it for "Flavor of Love" style dramatics. We want to see fantastic garments created by talented designers. Especially this late in the competition. Keeping Mitchell for three episodes was our first sign, but we could only suspect. Sending home Epperson and then Shirin two weeks in a row made it obvious. The producers were trying to make "Project Runway" a different program. Perhaps this was because of the move to Lifetime, or the move to Los Angeles, but whatever the reason, they are losing viewers who are unlikely to return.
As a viewer, it is difficult to take the show seriously anymore. Clearly the producers and judges do not.
Clearly not Shirin's finest moment (and to be fair to her, she was not helped by her sourpuss model), but this rather eclectic look was miles ahead of both Christopher and Logan.
Designs photographs source.