Monday, 23 April 2007

Project Runway beats out UK knockoff

Thank God Project Runway has finally come to the UK! It's only on season one, but season two , which I didn't see, starts next week. For a fabulous play-by-play of the show, go to Project Rungay. My husband mocks my like of a few reality shows, but I've got to defend this one as it has a twist: the contestants actually have the talent and skills to design and sew an outfit in a crazy-short period of time.

The Brits have made their own version of this show called Project Catwalk. Now, the U.S. has been known to pilfer and remake many a Brit show, and that includes reality shows (I think half of the DIY shows in the U.S. originated in the UK, and the UK versions were way better -- think Changing Rooms beating out Trading Spaces, and What Not To Wear topping, well, What Not To Wear). But in this battle of the copied and rehashed TV show, the U.S. took names and kicked butt over the weak copy made by the Brits.

In Project Runway, the beautiful and always amazingly dressed Heidi Klum rules the roost. In the UK, her counterpart is ... wait for it ... Kelly Osbourne. That's right, the high-strung daughter of rocker Ozzy Osbourne. She does have a unique style all her own, but it's far from, well, stylish. She often looks like she's wearing a costume rather than clothes, but it's a look that works for her. Her look does not, however, make one think of beauty and fashion. I don't want to slam her too hard because her mom, Sharon, has been known to send people she doesn't like a package of poo (a reviewer of "The Osbournes" who called her kids fat got a steaming load of reprocessed Osbourne nutrients in the mail). But the original Brit counterpart to Heidi was Liz Hurley, who fit the beauty and style standard laid out by Heidi Klum to perfection. Apparently producers thought she was "wooden" (I never saw an episode with her at the helm), and Kelly got the gig in the end.

Another difference is that the show is designed to make the contestants much more adversarial and snarky than in the U.S. version. Anyone who's seen Project Runway may wonder how that could be possible, but believe me, the Brit version is just plain mean, and it's unpleasant to watch. The contestants brought out on the runway are asked things like who they think the worst designer is. Granted, in the U.S. version the contestants were asked who they thought should go if they had worked in a team, but they usually weren't horrid, seemed reluctant to have to pick anyone to go, and sometimes picked themselves as the one who should go. You won't see that reluctance in the UK version. I just saw one episode and couldn't take anymore.

I may buck up and try to watch more episodes of Project Catwalk, but I doubt I can take the enforced meanness of it all. Long live Heidi!

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