Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bravo to Shear Genius.

I watched the entire season of Top Design, even though I basically complained about every minute of it. Magen and I just couldn't help watching it. We needed something to fill the void left in our souls by Project Runway and Top Chef. But Top Design just didn't make the cut for us, and I have several reasons why. Nevertheless, we dutifully sat down and watched it on Wednesday night after America's Next Top Model, and we were mildly entertained, as both of the loft spaces created in the final challenge were truly lovely. The episode, though, was still totally boring. But we watched because afterward, we knew we had to check out Shear Genius, the new Bravo Runway-filler, which was making its television debut. Anything is better than Top Design, we thought.

And we were right. Shear Genius is so incredibly entertaining. The cast of stylists are all fantastically absurd, from Tabitha (who literally looks as though she were a cat transformed into a human), the arrogant Frenchman Paul-Jean (who was kind of good looking and unfortunately eliminated), Dr. Bogie (who claims he is straight, but we definitely raised by a pack of drag queens), Evangeline (who is some kind of super quirky Italian-American gypsy), my new gay boyfriend Theodore (who has these beautiful blonde curls and reminds me of a non-singing version of Josh Groban), to Daisy (who is already my pick to win the competition).

The challenges are also good, and they involve a mix of "quickfire"-style challenges that demonstrate haircuts on mannequins, and hairstyling challenges that use actual models. The first challenge was to create a look using craft supplies from Michael's for a hair show. While no one specified that it would be the kind of black hair show demonstrated in one of the first challenges of America's Next Top Model during Cycle 7, that was clearly the idea. The judges wanted to see outrageous, but beautifully styled, hair.

In traditional black hair shows, the hair designs often involve moving parts, and the piece that one the Shear Genius hair show did, in fact, have moving parts and was designed by my new gay boyfriend Theodore:
That box on that girls head? Yeah, it opens when she pulls a cord hidden on the side of her curls. Genius.

Here are some of my other favorites:

What you can't tell from this photo is that she actually has colored balls of twine woven into her hair in the back and it looks AMAZING.
This one was done by Daisy, and themed "The Wedding Day of Marie Antoinette."
The rings of fake hair are wrapped around styrofoam donuts and attached to her real hair.

So, yeah, this show is awesome.

I have some theories, though, about why Top Design sucks so much, and why every other competition-show that Bravo hosts is so amazing.

Theory 1: The end-results on Top Design are too high-end for its consumer audience. And no one wants to watch anything unattainable.

Now, the goal of Project Runway is to create couture clothing pieces, however, the winner used to get a design job at Banana Republic and now gets to design their own line for Macy's I.N.C. This means that Runway is ultimately creating a consumer product that we, the viewers, are invested in seeing the results of.

Top Chef functions in a similar way. While most of us will never eat at the restaurants these chefs cook at (except for Mikey, who cooked at the only nice restaurant in Stockton, CA), we all eat, we all like good food and, in watching the show, we learn how to cook-high end dishes--or at least get an idea of how to do so. We go out and we buy daikon radishes and creme brulee torches and we participate in the food economy to which the show caters. (Pun intended.) We will buy the issue of Food & Wine in which the winning chef is profiled, and we will then have their recipes. In one way or another, the products created on Top Chef get to us.

Shear Genius seems to work on another product-of-consumer/viewer interest scheme. Everyone gets their hair cut. And most Bravo viewers are invested in having stylish haircuts. On this show, we get to see great cuts being created, which we can ultimately find screenshots of to bring to our stylists. We can have our own Shear Genius cut, but outsourced to a different salon.

Top Design doesn't work this way. We're not buying entire rooms, pre-fabricated on a budget of $162,000. We don't buy $8,000 chairs. We don't get to run around the Pacific Design Center and put tags on the things we want for our room and not really have to pay for them because we get to return them later. There is nothing featured on Top Design that we, as viewer/consumers, actually get to go out and buy. We don't partake in the show's economy. That's why all of the TLC home design shows are better, more entertaining, because the average viewer of a home design show is the kind of viewer who wants to staple fabric to their couch to reinvent it, to change a room simply by painting things--essentially, the kind of viewer who likes the Do-It-Yourself mentality.

And that is why Top Design sucks.

Theory #2: Models make everything better.

Project Runway
has models. The show couldn't function without them. Shear Genius has models. The show couldn't function without them. Top Design doesn't have models. It has carpenters. (Granted, the show couldn't function without them, they definitely aren't pretty to look at, even though they all have to wear matching outfits, just like the other two shows.)

But Top Chef doesn't have models, you say. But if you said that, you'd be wrong. The show's host for Season 2, Padma Lakshmi, is not only a cookbook author, but a Bollywood actress and model. I assume that the show did not maintain songster Billy Joel's wife Katie Lee Joel as host after Season 1 is primarily because she is not a model.

Therefore, models make everything better.


w.pham said...

I completely passed on Top Design but this post has made me kinda (totally) want to watch Sheer Genius.

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