Monday, February 22, 2010

Models of the Runway - 2x06 "Role Models"

Models of the Runway may be the most useless show I watch because the usual competitive reality tropes hardly apply to it; although the designers clearly aim to pick models whom they consider strong, the ultimate winner of MOTR depends far more on the designer she's attached to than on her own modeling skills. If a designer throws gank up on the runway at Bryant Park, the model won't win no matter her fierceness. (Admittedly, the models do progress through the regular, pre-Bryant Park portion of the show based on their perceived skills, though Sophia was eliminated in the third episode -- despite being deemed one of the strongest walkers -- because of her reputation for being difficult to work with.)

All that said, in the relative competitive vacuum, MOTR demonstrates the impulses that are almost pathological to reality programs, especially with how MOTR is compelled to construct an internal moral system. In this episode, Brandise, my favorite contestant in the season (because she is kind of punk, and she is actually older than I am), talks about how another model, Brittany, is in danger of going home because Brittany seems to be ok with being eliminated from the show, which in reality tv speak means that she doesn't want it enough. Brittany does have a close call -- she's the last person picked by a designer, just barely avoiding elimination -- but the way the episode foreshadowed her ouster actually foregrounds the reality preoccupation with telegraphing how badly they want to be on the show, which in a way tries to reinforce and/or justify the program's own importance, and at the same time tries to convince us viewers of the show's relevance to the industry it represents.

I should note that Brandise probably isn't familiar with reality tv conventions -- she had never seen Project Runway before becoming a part of it -- which I can read in one of two ways. First, reality competitions "naturally" pull out the "prove your worth by showing how much you want to be on the show" desperation from its contestants so much that it can take someone who might not even be familiar with reality tv and turn her into an unmistakable reality talking head. Second, the modeling industry itself promotes this same impulse, and Brandise is just transferring her instincts from one field to another.

Indie rating: Fever Ray - "Coconut"

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