Storytelling in Another Form

I rented "Project Runway" after seeing  Heather Shaw listed it on her "Four Things Meme" as one of the four shows she loves to watch. I confess I would never have expected this particular reality show to appeal to me, but Shaw’s other TV and film picks all appeal to me.

What a great show …

In Stephen King’s On Writing, he mentions that (here, I paraphrase) for whatever reason, people like to read about other people’s work. A particular pleasure of Project Runway for me (as also found in Jerry Seinfeld documentary "Comedian, of my favorites) comes from the parallels I find in it (the work of designing women’s clothing in this case, just as that of honing a stand-up act in the case of Seinfeld) to writing prose fiction.
Each episode the competing fashion amateur fashion designers must complete a piece using some (often bizarre) set of materials and a basic concept or theme, such as ‘envy’ in one early episode. I find watching the contestants attempts to transform the initial concept into  clothing fascinating. They focus their thinking. Though some of the best designers hone the concept as they work and others clarify their vision before they begin each of the designers arrives eventually to an understanding of what they want. As they work, pieces come together, or they do not. Strikingly, some of the creators of weaker designs might have great concepts as well, concepts that they can explain very well to the jury, but when you look at the dress itself — what the hell happened? I find it hard to explain, because I don’t have the fashion vocabulary, but I, at least, can’t help but feel the difference. A green dress is expected for envy, so holds little interest. A dress with fake blood on it to show that (as the designer had to explain) "all the other models are jealous of her in this dress so they killed her" leaves me scratching my head. But a good dress, no matter the initial concept, I kinda’ get it, without being an expert. Just as in fiction, show don’t tell.

All that and the colorful personalities, of heroes and villians – the staple of any good reality shows. But most of all I find watching the good players get into the "zone," putting their sweat  and their passion into their creations, endlessly inspiring.  Recommended.

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