Barbara Nitke / Lifetime

The New Class Is In Session On Project Runway: Junior

The bite-sized spin off kicks off Season 2 with questionable casting and questionable design.

The New Class

Welcome back, Juniors! Starting last winter, we were treated to some delightfully talented, no-nonsense Gen-Zers, but because it's 2016 and everything's terrible, this casting is too. At least, it seems that way now, but maybe it's too early to judge?

JK, judging's why I'm here.

Most of the kids -- Ruby, Molly, Izzy, Tieler, Hawwaa, Chelsea, Allie, and A'kai -- seem sweet and genuinely excited to be on the show. And that's cute, and particularly charming when A'kai falls off the stool during his confessional and when Hawwaa proclaims, "Fashion means you can be who you want to be, no matter what anyone says."

But then there are three dudes are clearly around for the drama. I'm watching you, Rene, Lucas, and Chris! And I'm suspicious that maybe you all go on Botox dates together?

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Lifetime

Anyway, the moral is that you should watch and judge for yourself so that you know which contestants to dislike irrationally and which to root for, even when their designs are questionable.

Repeating Challenges


Just like last season (and OG PR Season 2 before that), we start with the "first impression as inspired by New York" challenge, but here the sketching area has been upgraded to the Bethesda fountain in Central Park. It instantly makes me sad that these young geniuses probably haven't discovered the fountain angel's role in Angels In America (or the history of the AIDS epidemic, tbh), but also slightly annoyed at Chris, who's seventeen and from Long Island and really has no excuses (a) not to be sneaking into the city on the LIRR already, and (b) look that much like a busted Zack Morris.

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Lifetime

But I digress.

Most of the kids are fairly evenly split between finding inspiration in the fountain's water lilies and/or the building tops that poke out from above the trees (yawn), but Chelsea's seems to be the only one taking notice of the actual park architecture...

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Lifetime

...while Rene just seems dead set on doing something "bondage couture."

First Trip To Mood


Been here, seen this. Please note that Chelsea makes it a priority to find and pet Swatch...

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Lifetime

...making her the true winner of my heart.

Children In The Workroom



We get it: this is the normal kid's version of a toy store. But otherwise, it's essentially just a shiny, fun sweatshop, filled with mean girls -- Rene, again. He calls Chris his "soul sister" and will clearly be this season's Peytie, in that I will love to hate on him.

Tim Checks In


Once Professor Gunn arrives, all bets are off: previous bad behavior makes way for sober reflection on progress and all-out panic about timelines.

Chris suddenly gets frantic that he's planning to make a pair of pants when he never has before (save for store-bought patterns); Izzy is told not to overdesign; and Rene calls Tim "dad" when he walks over. Tim chuckles politely, but you can tell by his body language that he's not feeling it.

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Lifetime

And this is his face when Rene says "bondage couture":

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Lifetime

Yet, Tim gives Rene his blessing anyway? It's a weird moment.

Molly, citing issues with how to drape neoprene, gets the first "make it work" of the season.

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Lifetime

...and then little fourteen-year-old Ruby shows off her nearly completed look.

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Lifetime

Stupid Rene says, in a confessional, that her top doesn't match her bottom. But Tim's only critique is to add an additional ruffle to the bottom of the skirt.

Chelsea adorably asks Tim for a hug, which he grants, because he, too, is adorable.

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Lifetime

...but then he goes on to scare her because time's running out and she doesn't have the back of her outfit planned out, even though it's all part of her process. Regardless, the designers will only have an hour to work the next day before the runway.

Pre-Runway Rush


Model fittings, last-minute fabric issues (Chelsea notes that her fabrics are difficult to work through the sewing machine, "like trying to catch Pokemon without a PokeBall"), etc. We all know the drill by now.

Setting Up The Competition


Hannah's been practicing in the off-season, and her Heidi impression has definitely improved. She announces the prizes -- a full scholarship to FIDM in California; sewing machines; including a fancy new embroidering machine, by Brother; manufactured finale pieces; a year's worth of Butter London products; the chance to create a Butter London nail polish collection; a feature in Seventeen magazine; and $25,000 -- and then brings out our returning judges, Kelly Osbourne, Christian Siriano, and Aya Kanai. Tim's there too, because he once again as the Tim Gunn-save.

Baby's First Runway


Despite her previous panic, Chelsea sends a complete, ninja-inspired look down the runway. It's probably best described as casual badass:

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Lifetime

Hawwaa's look is a little too R2D2 for me personally, but I'm sure someone in a galaxy far, far away (or Hot Topic) is into it:

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Lifetime

Tieler's look is cute, but it's also something that could easy be put together with separates from Loft's last season.

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Lifetime

Still, it would be pretty cute for a work meeting in the summer. Better to be chic and boring than to be wearing this hot mess that Chris creates:

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Lifetime

Or this thing that Rene thinks is hot...

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Lifetime

...but is probably already on clearance in a sex shop.

Judgey Judges Gonna Judge


Hannah does the whole step-forward thing, which breaks down to...

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Lifetime

Izzy, Chris, Ruby, Rene, Molly, and Chelsea all remaining for critiques.

The judges begin to ask the general questions, when, despite some positive feedback, Chelsea immediately starts to apologize about the sloppy construction of her dress. Aya shuts her down quickly, with an awesome note about how women tend to over-apologize for faults that no one sees. (Note, though, that Christian does later ding her for the fact that her sleeves aren't even.) There's also love for Rene, lest you think that a barely-there jacket constructed mostly of negative space couldn't save the scraps of fabric he sewed together from looking too vulgar.

In the end, it comes down to loving Izzy, Rene, Molly, and Chelsea, with Ruby and Chris in the bottom two. Chris quite maturely stomps back to the green room and declares himself too annoyed to speak with anyone.

Winner And Losers


The judges love the backstory behind Chelsea's dress, but the poor execution costs her, and they end up declaring Izzy's color-blocked athleisure gown the winner.

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Lifetime

BUT THEN -- then the judges do something unforgiveable and send Ruby home, claiming that her look didn't match up to the water lily she claimed as inspiration, and that it was too safe.

Lifetime

Lifetime

It's unfair in that it's a perfectly well-done look that I would absolutely wear if my abs were up to snuff, but also in that Chris literally thinks checkerboard pants are a good idea. You can teach someone to branch out; reining in crazy is a much harder mission.

Verdict


If I'm being honest, it's a bit surprising that the math adds up to this being a watch. Some of the new kids are a little much, and the overall show formula remains just that, but yet -- this is still a much better reality offering than most of what's out there. So sure, set aside the hour and pour a glass of pinot, but maybe also don't bother rewinding if you find yourself getting distracted. The early episodes help fans find their favorites, but they mostly exist to weed out the weak.

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