Friday, April 13, 2007

Shear Genius = Project Runway, NOT Top Design

The new reality show on Bravo, "Shear Genius" is much more like it's successful predecessor "Project Runway" than it's immediate predecessor Top Design. I wanted to like Top Design, i really did - I love how people put together rooms, either with luxury or practicality and creativity. However, the challenges were REALLY rushed, uninspired, and most importantly un-mentored. Tim Gunn has been the major breakout star of Project Runway (see NYTimes article) and his role on the show is pretty crucial. In addition, Heidi Klum's partnership with Gunn during the show helps link the creative process to the judging. Top Design lacked all of that. Todd Oldham, the Tim Gunn of Project Runway, got minimal screen time, and usually just praised the contestants rather than help them improve. This is not the case on Sheer Genius. The format remains the same, challenges, judging, elimination with lots of bitchiness thrown in. However, Jacklyn Smith plays the host and judge (Heidi Klum's role, and missing from Tom Design) while Sally Hershberger combines Tim Gunn's role with that of a judge. So there's advice going on, as well as judging. It makes the show more cohesive and fun to watch. There's a lot more critique going on, rather than just complaining by the judges that the contestants didn't live up to the challenge. It's looking like a good show. I never got into Top Chef and I think it's for the same reasons Top Design didn't work - much less cohesion and characters that people can like all the way through. None of this is to downplay Tim Gunn's magnificence - he's really one of a kind.

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