Vision Malevolent #3: Greek Tragedy

What, TLo commenters? Couldn’t reach 1,000 comments? 941 the best you can do?!


Hello, I’m J. Michael and this is another week of Vision Malevolent, home to the Project Runway blog that takes longer to read than it was to watch the episode itself. And for you DVR-ers, twice as long!


This week I once again overlook my actual readership in light of my desired readership (ignored by BPR, ignored by Una Lamarche… I feel like  a Rufus Wainright record.), and present another outlandishly verbose Project Runway recap. This time, I actually feel intimidated. The ratio of my words to everyone else’s took a severe nosedive this week, as this is one of the most wildly controversial episodes in recent memory.


If you measure it by comments left in the T-Lounge on the Project Rungay blog, then a full third more foofaraw over last week, which itself inspired a prolific amount of outrage. Basically, Michael C is the most divisive figure we’ve in a long, long time. There have been people who generate combative dichotomies in recent seasons, yes, but this guy seems to have an innate skill to foment drama. And “innate” in this case very much means having no control over it, because really, what does Mike C have control over?


So Michael’s little outburst at the end led to an explosion of anonymous comments on TLo’s blog, much of it in support of him, which in turn led to a vicious backlash by the regulars. Then the trolls realized that this was a gloriously delicious opportunity, and then… bedlam. Last call for vitriol came when Tlo had to personally step in to stop the flame war. I particularly loved the Bravo Crew v. Team Lifetime subplot.


But anyway, let’s start the show. Last week, Michael Bloomberg awkwardly offers his cheapest asset, the entirety of NYC.  And by ‘New York City” he means “only Manhattan.” Thankfully, Bloomberg gets the hell out of there to spare himself from seeing the dreadful designs that his fiefdom evoked. The boys easily move on, and after a tense moment, Gretchen moves on and April is eliminated, a decision everyone was satisfied with. You know, besides the entire internet.


Minus myself and any other sane person in the fandom, of course.


Heidi instantly comes out to her own Executive Producer credit. I noticed this on another blog in Recap Land, and I wonder if it’s the first time, because I certainly don’t recall it happening before. A persons title on-screen with them. And the first thing I’m thinking of is, how fucking cool it would be if the opening credits for next season was just the Sabotage video reshot with all the designers? Even better, why not have it close out this season? Can’t you see just see Casanova tackling Michael Drummond into a pool?


Your crystal ball is, in fact, crystal clear, Heidi. Just eliminate Michael right here.


So they go through the motions and pretend that they waited an entire night to film this segment, just to tell them to pack their things and get the hell off the Mild Billionaire Mayor’s island. I mean, shouldn’t Gretchen be banished for what she made? And what is Gretchen wearing?! Once again, she looks like a sexless, urban hippie chick at a Cosmic Wimpout torunament. All they need are several hundred Sandalwood incense sticks along the runway.


GASP! Three triangular glyphs! Nice roll, dude!


Heidi explains stuff and brings out Tim. Tim’s wearing an  orange checkered shirt with a solid silver tie and I note that the filming was in early Summer, which coincides with the string of celebrity slams he issued back then promoting his book. Maybe Tim really did lose his fucking marbles. Anyway, they bid farewell, and Gretchen initiates yet another group hug. What is she, the 2004 Red Sox? She pauses to find the right word for the path ahead and arrives at: “tough” Remember when I called her the most deft with words last week? :/


All the colors of the rainbow. None of the dignity. >(


Everyone ruminates on the experience, Andy is forced to walk through the streets of Manhattan for a transition shot, and Michael C presents his interpretation of what having the last laugh would be. Surprise surprise, it’s a literal one.


Come on mood shift, shift back to good again. Come on, be a friend.


It’s time for the sequence for which most of us watch the show eight season in: Tim Gun visitations. The first stop is to Andy’s Mother’s house in Hawaii, a month after the final challenge (2 weeks before Fashion week). It turns out that Andy grew up on a bucolic, rustic farm and spent his days doing chores and learning how to slice through things and stuff. Tim sagaciously puts on a pair of rubber boots, and Andy gives him a tour of the property as Tim points out that Andy’s metaphor about his “roots” is both literal and metaphorical. First the shirt, now that?! What is this season?


Andy shows Tim the catfish tanks, and Tim is taken aback.


Tim's taken aback



Tim also points out how ugly catfish are, and instantly I envision Tim Gunn added to the next season of River Monsters, helping Jeremy Wade in Wade’s quest to exploit starving native people’s resources without ever once offering the fish he catches in gratitude. Better yet, why not a show with Andy and Tim? Could they be the next Austin & Santino? Cody Lundin & Dave Canturbury? Mykel & Ruth Hawke?!!!


I drool over the dinner Andy’s mom made, and she herself appears to be a remarkably supportive presence. Afterwards, Andy shows Tim what he’s done in the last month. Namely, that he waited for the fabrics to arrive.. Wouldn’t it be great if he could have gotten the fabrics down the street, but had them made abroad because he has a huge crush on the UPS guy? He has drawn inspiration from Laos, and for authenticity he is using fabrics woven in Laos.  Slave labor prices, with the ancestral tie-in to justify it! Well played, Andy!


Andy has made a bunch of headpieces, which is meaningless without clothes to go with them. Andy shows Tim his sketches, and Tim is worried that none of the pieces individually are stunning, and yet together they might be a grave disaster. Tim is noticeably flummoxed by Andy’s situation. Andy is scared.  I’d suggest a winner’s edit here, but the pre-finale show does a winner’s edit for every goddamn designer.


The face of a 57 year old man using the expression "hot mess."

Annnd... isn't that his 11th look to the right? How did he get away with that one?


And we’re off to Palm Springs to visit Mr. Winner’s Edit, Michael Costello. Tim most likely physically leaped across the ocean and into the city himself, but Cadillac brutes grab him and force him to drive to Michael’s house. Just as  Caddy executives envisioned, the audience is captivated by the built-in GPS system and it’s intuitive touch screen.Please, more more more! Forget the fashion, show us the steering radius and the smooth, quiet ride!


Turn left.... You have arrived: "Anna Wintour's House." Good luck.


Michael and his boyfriend are packing, and I note what others have pointed out recently, including Michael: Michael C lost a LOT of weight this season. Tim is wearing a shirt and blazer with blue jeans. Tim, what is wrong with you this episode? I’m sincerely appalled. And now I notice that Michael and his boyfriend are dressed exactly alike! This episode is corroding my innards.


Hello, Yes, I'd like a smaller, gayer, Gypsie version of me. Thaaanks!


Tim is impressed by the sheer volume of work Michael has made. It’s an “AJ hot mess” type moment: I’m not sure whether it’s a compliment. He seems intrigued, but he definitely has his brow furrowed more than normal, his index knuckle glued to his bottom lip. He clearly understands that Michael needs his advice more than anyone else. He orders Michael to stop designing and start crafting his collection, but I just can’t get over it: jeans with a shirt and blazer! You are not the “cool” professor, Tim.


And Tim Gunn as: The Philosophy Professor people start rumors about taking female students to local motels.


Tim goes to the kitchen to eat dinner and a Michael Costello Cosplay Convection broke out. Seriously, why does everyone in Michael’s life look like Michael? Was this why it was so hard for him to open up in the first 6 episodes? Because none of the designers looked like him? Hell, he even made one of him! Speaking of, But Giovanni comes off like a bit totally disinterested, if not outright annoyed, by the cameras, making him the most salient person ever to appear on Project Runway. Even if he does have to sit there and listen to his dad say that he didn’t want to be married to a woman, ie GIOVANNI’S MOM. :/


Quite a bit of ethnically ambiguous man at this table.


And then we have Michael’s boyfriend Richard. Richard will be attending Fashion Week and seems quite satisfied that Michael’s parents will not be there, and he paints a very poor picture of them. We then learn that Richard outed Michael to Michael’s parents. The great thing about posting this recap nearly a week after airdate is that I can comment upon the fandom and the reactions as well as the show, and opinions have varied WILDLY about Richard. According to Michael himself, his siblings were none too pleased with Richard’s comments.


I’m not sure what to make of him. He clearly is very protective of Michael, which is good. But he made it seem like Michael’s parents only care about TV, and all that implies (ie, fame seeking). To me, it seems more logical that they simply see Project Runway as a validation of Michael, a big break (which it obviously is). This doesn’t seem like a “I’m Tiger’s Dad” situation. And about Michael’s situation, you’ll want to read this article, which came out the day before this episode aired:


Basically, it says that Michael’s relationship with his family has been rough, and that when he was 18 he had an arranged marriage. It confirms that Giovanni is not only biological, which to me was a much more interesting question than whether or not Michael was gay. I mean, how was that EVER a question? But it also reveals that Michael fathered a daughter as well, whom he is not permitted contact with, for reasons that don’t appear to be Michael’s fault. It’s tragic. As for his parents, they’ve supported him more than Richard let’s on. Read this article for more on that:


Some have speculated that Michael is from Romani descent, and I really wish they would have explored this more with Tim’s visit. It’s possible that Michael simply did not feel comfortable going deep into this, and perhaps he was correct in that assumption, considering the discontent of his brother and sister to this even cursory bit of digging. But the show is about the designers as much as the designs, and this is a legitimately fascinating story.


Tim is now in Denver, Colorado, 10 days from Fashion Week, to walk the streets of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty. He arrives at Mondo’s house, and let me just give a nod to the PR cameramen and on-site producers, because they did an amazing job of downplaying what a bad neighborhood Mondo lives in. If you’ve seen the my Closet Tours, you’ll know… Mondo’s in a gritty part of town. And THIS is the place Tim decided to wear a full suit to?!


10 seconds until Daytime Mugging


Mondo looks adorable, and perspicaciously understands that post-PR years are going to be grim, so he knows how important it is to actually win the season (so there, “Top ten show so who cares who makes it to the finale” people). Mondo is inspired by an amalgamation of Mexico City circuses and Day of the Dead. Mondo’s going to silkscreen a really creepy clown design. I’m intrigued simply based upon the shirts Mondo wore on the show, that he made himself. Mondo’s stuff looks fantastic, though there is a pink shirt that Tim describes as “jejune.” See Tim, your full power is unleashed when you wear a real suit!


And there you have it: the physical, dichotomous manifestation of Mondo Guerra.


Family dinner time, and Mondo’s family is lovely. His dad seems pretty nonplussed about the whole thing. Or maybe he really doesn’t know Mondo is gay, and thinks Mondo’s simply a fey dude. They talk about Mondo playing baseball, and Mondo says that he was a terrible shortstop. I’m just waiting for a “pitcher/catcher” joke here, but I underestimate Mondo’s taste in humor; turns out he just wanted to play piano. Mondo plays for Tim, and I can just feel all the girls watching trying to will Mondo straight.




It’s a quaint little scene, and we managed to totally avoid mentioning the dilemma of Mondo’s HIV status. Oh, right, maybe I should emphasize that: IT NEVER CAME UP ONCE. That was like, THE moment of the season. How was this not addressed?! Mondo gives a nice speech about being yourself and the nature of being truly “cool,” and he mentions baseball again as being something cool kids do. Mondo, no one plays baseball anymore. If you grew up now, you’d probably play it just to be all Mondo about things.


Anyway, let’s leave that sincerity behind and travel to the place that proudly wears it’s sincerity on it’s sleeve… ironically: Portland, Oregon. The city that redefined “insufferable.” They show bicycles, which is a great bit of editorializing. When I was in the Netherlands this Spring, I must have seen literally thousands of bicycles. It’s how people get around there. In the US, in Portland, you ride a bicycle to make a statement: I’m white, and I want you to be impressed by me. Oh hey, there’s Gretchen!


Life and Hardship spitfire’d Gretchen in the 6 weeks since the final challenge. She’s bankrupt, and forced to move out of her house due to a failed relationship. It’s sad enough that I won’t even speculate about how a boy might possibly want to find a way out of Gretchenville. And really, it is sad. Some people seem to be reveling in it, and like I said in the character evaluation I wrote two weeks ago: Gretchen is not evil. She doesn’t even mean to be condescending. She’s a nice person, and that was shown later on in this episode. You’re just going to have to deal with it; you’re treating Gretchen like the other designers treated Mike C.


Gretchen’s mom is helping her move, and Tim arrives. Gretchen is a bit shy about meeting Tim under these conditions, but Tim is empathetic and shares his own sorrowful break-up story with her. Gretchen has a multi-cultural theme, and just like multiculturalism often does, it ends up being an ugly, confounding mess. She’s playing with safari themes, replete with mismatched animal prints and holy flipping FORKS that outfit next to her is hideous. It’s like zubaz pants left Zebras behind and ventured into other African game.





Don’t worry, though. She’s also making a diaper. And a costume for an Ekryka Badu video. Tim tells her to “reconceive.” Man, I hope Jim Bob and Michele Duggar weren’t watching. D:


Young lady, you have some explaining to do.


Tim, Gretchen, and Gretchen’s mom have brunch. Gretchen’s mom tells a story about Gretchen being fastidious when she was younger, and Tim concludes that Gretchen is a control freak.  Coming up next, Tim uncovers whether English is Casanova’s second language.


As for the visitations segment as a whole, I’m reminded of the way Work of Art, Bravo’s attempt to replicate PR note-for-note, totally botched their Mentor Visit Segments. I mean, the one thing Work of Art had going for it was  Simon de Pury. He was like Tim Gunn if Tim Gunn were Swatch. I was so looking forward to Simon’s visits with the artists, but they ended up being rushed and completely anticlimactic. And PR did the same goddamn thing.


We return to Metropolis just in time for Mondo to pull up to the Hilton in a Cadillac. We know this because… well, you know why. So now that this segment is paid for, Mondo moves in and takes the biggest room. Michael shows up and he’s excited. Mondo hides behind the bed and tries to scare him. Michael doesn’t flinch, and I give up. How does Michael, the most emotional person on the show, maybe ever, not shriek when Mondo jumps out? Anyway, Mondo is SUPER excited to see Michael and it’s really adorable.


Why don't you pull the bandana and we can really say hello. **titter titter**


Michael hits two home runs, saying that he was more scared by Mondo’s pants and describing Andy as “Pocohantas meets Naomi Campbell.” This was the snarkmeister I was expecting after the first three episodes. Gretchen does some sort of hip-hop dance-hop when she arrives and her pants are like the sky if the sky naturally offended people.


Tim shows up and pulls out the velvet bag, but it turns out that all that’s in the velvet bag is resort vacations courtesy of the Hilton. Or rather, pamphlets representing said vacation. The vacations are not physically inside the bag. Oh, and this bit doesn’t get much attention anyway because we’ve already had a bit a couple of episodes ago where we get to laugh at how trained the designers are to react in fear. Great, you’ve broken them. Congratulations.


The Final Four get into the new workspace and Tim finally drops the hammer: they will present three looks to the judges, but one of them will be an 11th look that they will have two days to make. On cue, the designers react as if they have never seen television before, let alone Project Runway.  They sketch, shop at Mood, and begin to make their 11th look. Michael, and those talking about him, say effortless no less than 5 times in this 8 minute segment. Mondo tries to create a jersey dress, Andy is doing some magnificent pleating in an interesting color. And by doing, I mean he did it weeks ago and the camera caught it on a dress form. We then get an action sequence soundtracked by what appears to be the elevator music version of Euro-techno. Mondo leaves first, playfully saying “Last one there’s a lousy designer!” Gretchen then punches Mike C in the throat and slams Andy down by his ponytail as she bolts for the door.


Editing as subtle as a Maxim caption.


As we got to break, Mondo discards his entire look and starts over. Mondo says that he feels like this is the end. That would be a perfect 13-for-13 for Mondo. Well done.


Tim pops in the next day to check up on everyone. Michael made his look without any consideration  to what two looks he’d be presenting it with, and then explains to Tim that things usually come together for him in the last hour or two. Tim is aghast:


See, Michael. I'm indicating that time is short. Do you get it, Michael? Michael, do you get it? do you get it, Michael? Michael do you...


Tim tells Gretchen that she has continuity, and that she could pick any designs from her collection and have continuity. It’s almost an “AJ hot mess” situation, but Tim was complimenting her for sure. Mondo is surrounded by a mess, and Tim is enthralled by Mondo’s look. Gretchen feels it is subdued, and I have to remind people: she’s answering producer’s questions,, everyone. It’s not like she barges into the control room and demands interview time to deliver unsolicited criticism of the works. she does that to the designers themselves.


Tim is also very dazzled by Andy’s work, and I notice that they keep cutting away to Michael C. That should have been a giveaway that Michael was going home. Mondo believes Andy’s collection is flat. Or was he looking at Gretchen NICE LAAAADY. Speaking of, if Gretchen said this, people would be outraged. It really does come down to the cadence of how you speak; Gretchen has terrible cadence, and thus people hate her when really most of the things she’s said are innocuous.


Tim tells Mondo, Andy, and Gretchen that they are doing fabulously and to continue their work accordingly. He then tells Michael, very emphatically, “Don’t choke.” Uhhhhh… not the shrewdest thing Tim’s ever done. I don’t know what compelled him to think Michael of all people wouldn’t be negatively affected by that. And wouldn’t you say that to the ones in the lead?


Pffffff.... What, me choke? Wait, me... choke?!


It’s the next day and Tim gives the designers the usual instructions. Unfortunately, he didn’t instruct Gretchen to return to the Hilton and change immediately. Oy gevalt, this girl.


Screencap chosen to put outfit in background as much as possible.


Models show up. Andy, and Gretchen are very optimistic, and even at this point you wonder what the fuck that bikini is doing there. When I watched it the first time, I just assumed it was what the model was wearing underneath the proper look. Elsewhere, Mondo gets emotional, Andy is focused,  Gretchen is still very emotionally raw, and Michael is hungry.


Heidi greets everyone on the runway, and introduces our beloved junkies. It’s just the Usual Three. Now… time for clothes of a higher order:

Andy is first up. He feels like he is showing the judges a lighter side of him, showing a maturity of editing. Gretchen likes the movement of the bikini. Andy loves the 11th look, and think it fits in his collection.


Andy has a "What were you thinking?!"


I think his 11th look is stunning. I love the color, the pleating is breathtaking… the only problem I have is that there doesn’t seem to be cohesion between the pleated top and the solid skirt. The silver look has some shoddy pleating, but I like the back. The bikini is just mind-boggling. What in God’s name was he thinking? I think the back is elegant and it does move gracefully, but this was enough to get him auffed.


Michael is in the 2 spot. He loves his collection, down to every single piece. He’s aware that there’s a feeling that he can only make dresses, so he compiled this mini-collection to show his range. Gretchen makes that porno music sound when the girl in the pants walks away. Seriously, isn’t it time for a new porno music sound? Maybe some synth sounds, or a woodwind flourish?


Effortlessly wrapping a shaggy bath rug around her waist.


Not many people liked these looks, but I like everything but the feathered dress. I love the 11th look, which is an excellent addition to Michael’s ouevre, and I adore those pants. I think the third look could be stunning in person.


Gretchen is 3rd. She thinks her looks are pretty, incorporating many different elements, and create a sense of drama. She is focused on making it to Fashion Week. For the amount of talking we’ve heard from Gretchen over this season, this segment was pretty quiet.


Many cultures, one resounding example of why cultures expire.


Gretchen’s collection is a whirlpool of unsavory. I like the front of the 11th look, but the back looks like the knotted rope you climb in gym class. The less said about the middle look the better; I think it’s self-evident how unflattering it is from the back, and why did she attach a Transformers logo to the front? And as inspect the third look, I must apologize to April for what I said this last week. THIS is witchy. The hat looks like it should come with a complimentary bubbling cauldron.


Mondo is batting clean-up, and is proud of the way his models look. Michael C. loves the bag, and Mondo thinks his collection is cohesive and stays true to his ouevre.


Mondo Mondo the Mondo, but Mondo mondo-Mondo the Mondo Mondo Mondo's Mondo.


Mondo has now become an adjective for his own designs, and they are very Mondo, indeed. The first is a classic mismatch of patterns that inexplicably work. I wasn’t enamored with the 11th look, however. I adore the skirt; the print is mesmerizing, like Space Invaders enemy ships. I’m confused by the color choice of the top. And the dress… unfortunately, Tom and Lorenzo ended all possible discussion on this dress by referencing the Groove Is in the Heart Video. But the back is super sexy. I think it would be great if you simply removed the sleeves.


Three of these four will be going to Fashion Week. One will be out. Who will it be? Who could tell, it’s so close, I better keep watching because IT’S SO CLOSE IT COULD GO ANY WA… oh, never mind. Thanks for ruining it, Lifetime.


Unless you watched the show when it first aired, you wouldn’t understand that joke, so let me explain one of the most thoughtlessly blatant spoilers I‘ve ever seen. During the commercial break following the runway, Lifetime aired a hybrid commercial, exploiting PR’s season finale in a desperate attempt to foment buzz for their dreadful looking new show about some British wench that yells at unemployed people. Harmless, right? Might as well capitalize. Common trade practice.


Except that one of the first things we see is Mondo, very clearly at Fashion Week. This made me nervous, but no bother. We knew Mondo was going to FW since what, episode 6? But as the commercial progresses, we see Andy, VERY clearly backstage at Fashion Week getting pushed along by Tim. Well, fine. Andy’s been a lock nearly as long as Mondo, but not a SURE THING. Oh well. But the ending montage shows all the designers. Mondo, Andy, and Gretchen are obviously at FW, and Michael’s is a generic workroom shot from flipping Parsons. Unless this is a deliberate, final swerve, Michael’s gone. Show’s over. I’m astounded by the incompetence on display here. I mean, show’s over.


But there remains 25 minutes left in the show, that are now, unfortunately, perfunctory. They speak to Mondo first. OranjeKors* likes the individual pieces, and thinks that the potential for mixing/matching is a benefit. Heidi likes the 11th look’s dress, but not the top. Nina admires Mondo’s theatrics, but feels the dress  might have gone too far. Thus begins the Nina and Michael lecture. Mondo tells them there are pieces in his collection that would surprise them, and Nina and Kors finally drop the charade and beam with pride.

*Yay, a Dutch pun! Oranjekoorts = “orange craze,” related to the National Football Team.


All three are wowed by Andy’s green dress, but Nina is concerned that Andy’s collection does not have range. Andy contends that the full collection contains transitions, but also feels the grey dress is a day look, and Nina openly rolls her eyes right in his face. And I think we’re well past due for another Santino to come along and bring her back down.


"It's Season 8, people! This is now constructive criticism."


Andy blatantly admits that he is not showing them the most exceptional work in his collection, in an attempt to maintain some kind of surprise for the Fashion Week show. The judges are rightly bemused, and Nina’s criticisms have devolved into facial expressions confirming whatever Orange Crush is saying.


Oh, Michael, may I name my new baby after you? I shall call him, Tanner.


Michael wants to show structure and detail and Kors looks totally affect less. He likes the dress, and “effortless” gets tossed around liberally again. Heidi likes the frayed top, but is under whelmed by the rest of the collection. Nina is bewildered by the monochromatic nature of the mini-collection, and here comes another lecture. This is where Michael’s inability to characterize hinders him; he should have talked about “cohesion,” not a “story.” He mentions greytones in the full collection and Heidi points out that they don’t see it here. This is outrageously unfair; they only have three goddamn looks, how many elements of their collection do you expect them to exhibit? This seems like judging backwards in order to fit a predetermined decision.


Stoic face. Ohp, wait a second: the lips aren't pursed. Sorry Michael, you're finished.


A quick word about the color scheme. I’ve seen it called copper, rust, brownish, reddish… I’m disappointed, everyone. It’s terra cotta. It’s a great choice and his use of fabrics is superb as well, because the color shifts depending on the light, but at rest it’s terra cotta. Honestly people, none of you fashonistas could take the time to find the proper color? It’s only the very basis of our vision. Oy.


Michael makes a completely valid argument related to showing them the versatility of his composition, that he can do more than dresses. Michael and Nina jump on this and frankly, I’m befuddled. What do they want him to do?


Gretchen’s opening remarks explicitly admits that she put this mini-collection together to purposefully pique their interests without giving them too much. And now you have to wonder if Gretchen is a complete idiot and wasn’t paying attention when Andy said the same thing and the laughed right in his face. Nina is disinterested, in fact, and Kors thinks it looks inexpensive. Kors describes his situation as being the opposite of Michael’s: Michaels girl doesn’t leave the house until midnight, whereas Gretchen’s goes to sleep with the sunset. Michael’s reaction to this totally says that he interpreted this as a sign that he was moving on. It’s lamentable, in retrospect.


"That was not a compliment." "It wasn't? It sounded like one." "Oh, whatever. *puff puff*"


Kors is flabbergasted that the designers have tried to present their mini-collections so coyly, and points out that this is their chance to show the judges a variety of what they have to show so that… wait Van Oranje, you just criticized Michael for that very thing. Does crack instigate insta-Alzheimer’s? Oy vey, what balderdash. In the back, the designers are restless.


Now they conference. They talk of Gretchen, and only conversations specifically about granola use the word granola more times in such a short span. Heidi stands up for Gretchen, and there you have it: Gretchen’s got Heidi behind her, and that’s enough at this point to move on. They feel like Mondo skirts dangerously close to the farcical. They are still rankled about Michael color scheme, and Nina seems physically pained that Michael’s made such an error this late. It’s pretty clear that they want to push him through so desperately, but that they are fully aware that he’s just not ready. Or perhaps they saw the commercial, too. >(


Oh, and they are still rankled at Andy, too, but who cares? We already found out he was going to Fashion Week. The only way  this is anything of an issue is if it comes down to Andy and Michael and that’s just ludicrous right? RIGHT?!


And yet, it does come down to that. Thankfully, I was caught up in the moment and totally blanked on this, but I’m appalled in retrospect. I was probably still so stunned that Gretchen came out #2. You know, I’ve fought virulently against the people who have derided this season based on the mediocre fashion… but this pretty much validates them. It stings, you guys. It really does.


We can the usual fabricated dramatics, which, of course, feels more vacant than usual because WE ALREADY KNOW. So Andy goes through, and Michael gets even with the judges by forcing them to witness a nervous breakdown. He can’t even face Andy, or even Heidi. He shuffles off to the back, and a very malignant editor decided that we all achingly desired to see several uninterrupted minutes of a grown man’s uninhibited, whimpering anguish.


Nobody like me, everybody hates me, think I'll go eat worms...

"Let the velvet absorb your torment, Michael."


Michael cries while wondering what to tell his parents, whom he assumes will force him to quit designing and get married again. And in all of this, I feel terrible for Andy. This was a big moment for him, but you can see that Michael’s display has made him feel so agonizingly guilty. Mercifully, Tim comes in and breaks the tension, and Michael starts to take things much better. And he gets Tim to say the f-word! That’s the most extraordinary thing all season.


So Michael’s gone. He packs up, and says some touching things about making friends. Next week, scenes that we saw in a goddamn commercial thirty minutes ago.


I feel that two things need to be said about the misconceptions about that final scene. First, the conceit that Michael was faking this meltdown is absurd. Obviously it was preposterous and excessive,  but Michael’s the most emotionally fragile person of the season. He was not going to react well no matter when he was eliminated, and pushing him along this far only amplified that. The thought that it was fraudulent because he did not shed any tears it laughably pathetic; it makes me wonder what sort of emotional vacancy exists in some of these pitiful imbeciles. Watch closely, and you can see a couple of shots where tears are present, but even ignoring that… it was pure anguish. Sometimes, that actually precludes tears. Grow up, everyone, and leave your petty bollocks behind.


As for Ms. Gretchen Jones, stop doubting her sincerity. She’s probably too sincere, if anything. People very snootily chalked her attempts to console Michael, as well as her concern for how much support he will receive back home, to typical Gretchen condescension. Nyet. Like I pointed out two weeks ago, and like I pointed out earlier in this piece, it all comes down to how you say things. Gretchen’s phrasing, and especially cadence, irk the hell out of people. But she truly cared for and loved these guys, and it was obvious.


So we bid farewell to Michael, who stands as one of the more enthralling psychological studies in PR history. The guy’s character arc was astounding. By Episode 3, I was convinced he was going to play that “super gay, super sardonic” archetype. Then he turned into the pariah archetype, with underdog overtones. He was one the most divisive characters we’ve ever seen. Generally most people come down on one side of a designer, with a contrarian and/or supporter supplement. For instance, most people hate Gretchen, but there is a vocal minority that defend her. But with Michael, there is a serious ebb-and-flow. There is a serious Red v. Blue thing going on with him. Some want to paint it as a Bravo crowd v. Lifetime crowd dynamic, which is just unspeakably stupid. Michael is just a guy whose fashion and personality are going to foment these things.


He’s basically a nice guy, but as socially awkward as he is design awkward. Maybe it’s his background. But from what I can tell, this seems to be the most logical chronology: Michael comes to the house, acts very loud. He doesn’t mean to be insufferable, he’s just goofing. He probably teases Peach in this way, due to Peach’s aversion to vulgarity. The other designers resent him immediately. He turns insular, dismayed that he turned people away. Mondo brings him out of his shell, and everyone but April are willing to give him another chance. And finally, things get better for him once there were fewer people around.


Michael predicts 1,000 comments on Project Rungay. Sorry Michael, there was no way to predict such pathetic failure; unless you are holding up 94% of that finger. In which case, well played.


His design work is an acquired taste. As I postulated last week (and Tlo did this week SQUEEE!!!), Michael is a red carpet designer and that’s where he belongs. He known enough about fashion to win a few challenges, but not enough to avoid some monumental failures. But it was those failures that helped him in the end. April, for instance, was too pristine, too polished. The judges never got a range from her, nothing memorable. And that’s the thing about PR. Unless you are exceptional every week, like a Mondo, you need to fail a few times so that when you succeed there’s a resounding wow factor. Michael had that.


As for Michael’s future… some have suggested that he formally attend Fashion School. I don’t doubt that he could get into a prestigious one, especially now, and Michael himself has indicated his interest in that. He certainly has shown an admirable willingness to learn and grow. But he also openly admits to not liking books. He doesn’t like to read. How will he do theory work? Can he handle the academic part of Fashion School?


Oh Michael, you still manage to raise questions and foment discussion, even in TV death. With all the misuse of the phrase “go out with a bang” last week, you actually fulfilled it this week.


Next week, I don’t know? Maybe I can hit 10000 words. I’m J. Michael.


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