Saturday, January 07, 2012

The All Star Problem

So I’m watching Project Runway All Stars the other night, and was pretty much underwhelmed by their line up of “All Stars” for a variety of reasons. One, it felt as if some of the contestants brought back on this season weren’t brought back based on the merits of their design skills or craftsmanship but on their infamy. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of talented designers that should’ve won their respective seasons or placed higher than they did (Mondo, Anthony, here’s looking at you!) But, and I’m sorry about this, there’s no way Sweet P, just based on the merits of her work on her season would’ve ever been picked as an all star, and Alyssa…. Good Lawd Child No! When Heidi Klum herself said you made a model look like she was pooping fabric, you’re aesthetic isn’t where it should be, no? She was picked pretty much on the basis of the fact that she was loopy and made for good trashy television. Now, I don’t know that for sure, and haven’t read any insider dirt to back that up, but writing’s on the wall, ain’t it?

But Project Runway isn’t the only one guilty of stunt-casting from previous seasons. Let’s take a minute to talk about America’s Next Top Model All Stars shall we? As a whole, the season was jam packed with stunt-casted past contestants that were … “very polarizing” is the polite term. Perhaps the better term is the bitchiest bitches to have ever bitched in Bitchville? Bianca, Alexandra, Angelea for crying out Freaking loud. Angelea(who if the internet is to be believed, maybe WON the season of the ANTM all stars but she couldn’t keep her big mouth closed, so they ended up re-taping the finale and giving it to Lisa. Like Really?!?! Allison deserved that title damn it! I’m not bitter. What?), based on her modeling skills in her season, was not an All Star, she was a loud mouth who made an impression, and they make for good trashy TV, but unfortunately, not compelling TV.

And I mean, I get why its casted like that. First of all, the ones who are more character than talent are a brand unto themselves. People, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, are drawn into basket cases, the loud mouths, the wierdos, the bitches (that has been made plainly obvious by the myriad Real Housewives spin offs. Ha!), because they are easy to box up and digest for our viewing pleasure. We know we’re getting kooky when Alyssa comes on the screen and spits on fabric. We know we’re getting bitchy when Bianca waves her hand in the air and does her patented ‘Oh no you di’in’t’ look for the camera. We want our reality TV populated with the jerks, guidos, bitches, and weirdos also because of how easy it is to judge. My favorite thing on this season of ANTM was snarking on Shannon and Alexandra, because it was easy to be dismissive. The harder thing is to look at the characters for more than what gets shown to us. My husband, God bless him, actually liked Alexandra and rooted for her solely because of how vilified she was by the show and the audience, me included. It’s easy to type cast, and it’s easy to portray certain personality traits when you’re only given an hour of time each week to get to know these people.

I also get the allure of All-Star editions versus casting complete unknowns again. Each person you bring back is their own brand, has their own fan-base or has people eager to watch the season just to see a few familiar faces again. It reawakens a plodding series when it needs a new life. I get all that. But sometimes, it’s still not very compelling.

Yet, there’s still plenty of talent that has been on previous seasons that needs to be given a second chance, that if done correctly, could be very compelling. I encourage you to consider that these shows should do a “first-offs” or ‘rejects’ edition, of people who, either by circumstance, or perhaps they didn’t bring their best selves to the game that day, got kicked off too early before we ever got a chance to know them, really find out what they are about. The best example I have is from Project Runway. The first episode out of the gate was the redo of the grocery store challenge and this one guy made a deranged raincoat/dress out of a shower curtain and some picnic table clothes or some such and you could tell he just didn’t bring his all that day. I’d assume if given the chance, he’d love to redeem himself. I’d love to see him try.

I’m sure a lot of ‘first offs’ would be plenty hungry at another shot to prove themselves. Also, I’m pretty sure there would still be more than your fair share of kooks too. But ask yourselves this, what would you rather see, a bunch of hungry competitors, hoping, praying for another shot to prove themselves or a bunch of bloated ‘all-stars’ stretching out their fifteen minutes. Also, I love the underdog aspect of this idea. Imagine if somebody dumped at the beginning of Project Runway’s season came back to win an entire season? How good would that be? That’s some good redemptive arc right there. AmIright? You know I’m right.

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