Screen: Lifetime

Like Sands Through The Hourglass

These are the days of our Natalias running out of time during yet another unconventional-materials challenge.

An unconventional-materials challenge -- must be Thursday! ...Seriously, does it seem to anyone else as though the various Runways fall back on chocolate and raffia every other week at this point? Couldn't the challenge brief be based on a color, or a specific job -- uniforms? Maps? Anything but "make fabric from non-fabrics"?

For all that, the California-beach-girl episode was fairly entertaining. Let's see who was made in the shade and who got burned.

Awesome

Oscar's friendship with English Wearing an umbrella hat and swimmies on his forearms, Oscar proceeds to rip his pants racing around the beach collecting materials. Here is his narration of that unblessed event: "An accident happened, I broke my pants. See-rye-usly?" J'adore.

Sam The constant bitching about finishing in the middle was getting tiresome, not least because it was an obvious set-up by the show for him to triumph, but you can't argue with results, and his were chic and wearable -- plus he responded smartly to what he calls Mondo's "'scrap it' face." Sometimes seems a bit immature, but also ambitious and focused. Good week for him and his pineapple purse. (Not a euphemism.)

Uncle Nick He's found the right balance between suggesting and hand-holding. Also, his hilariously underinformed mixing of sports metaphors when he tells Oscar it's the bottom of the ninth "or whatever they call it," then switches to soccer imagery.

BlowPro …Hee.

Shan A romper I would consider wearing. (It may actually have been separates? Feel free to correct me in the comments.) Loved the mix of shiny and matte (well, more matte); loved the pockets; the stripes lined up perfectly, and it spoke to the challenge brief. Somewhat surprised it didn't come in for positive notice (more on the manipulation of results to keep a handful of designers from hogging the wins in a moment).

Gentle judging One thing PR: UTG does better than both its brethren is its judging. Jen Rade has an occasional Kors moment, but the panel usually focuses on positives, and on how things that went wrong with garments might have been saved or steered away from failure. Natalia's dress is fuglo, flawed in its inception, but given that, Rade Roy Chapman LLC talked about how to avoid that in the future and complimented her on what she did do well, and it's so much more interesting for viewers, because 1) it means they're talking about the work, which they do understand as industry insiders, instead of 2) making jokes that bomb, because that's not what they do and it feels labored. We're also seeing this on American Idol this season -- judges talking to competitors artist-to-artist -- and it's so much better than gimmicky soundbites.*

Asha Mondo has to choose between his kids, Asha and Sam, for the win, and when he picks Sam (agreed), Asha is thrilled for him (classy). I don't get her designs the way the "house" seems to, but I like her.

Annoying

Michelle Less time Eeyore-ing that Mondo favors other designers and that Anya shouldn't have questioned Nicholas's portfolio (though I'm with her on that last thing being pretty harsh); more time making an outfit that doesn't look like a Mars Attacks reject. Instead of droning that Natalia -- who will send herself home soon enough, if you're right about her construction -- needs to go, maybe go make an entire top. Should have gone home instead of Stephanie despite seam detailing that saved her ass.

TIM IS IN FLIP-FLOPS!!1! Didn't he write in one of his books that he despises the thong sandal? Either way, very disconcerting.

Natalia's knitting I get that it's a signature skill and she'd want to show it off, but given the time constraints, she seems unable to get it not to look stretched-out and summer-camp, and it almost got her sent home; the judges treated that bulky mess -- which also wasn't a good match with the dark teal -- far more kindly than I would have.

Oscar not making the top two A dress made out of overlapping straw fans actually looked comfortable, but instead, Sam shares the finals with Asha, whose dress is basically the same as Blake's, but with more foof on the bottom, and a manufactured print effect...suggested by Mondo. I don't think she's bad or anything, but she's overpraised, and it felt like a contrived attempt to keep Oscar from dominating, which, if that's what he's doing?

*"Austin Powers meets Judy Jetson" She's not wrong, but that's more Jen Rude than Jen Rade, and the prior remark about having just taken Ecstasy is unfunny and weird. Rachel Roy's hesitant classification of Michelle's garment as in a "cocktail-y, waitress-y arena" is spot on and doesn't try so hard. Again, I know Rade is on the panel for this purpose, but she's much funnier and more interesting when she's not doing The Funny Mean One shtick.

Indoor sewing Didn't Tim say, "And we're not going to move"? I may have misheard him but I thought sure that meant that, on top of using unconventional materials, the designers would be working on the beach. Maybe it got scrapped due to weather or something, but that would have been really fun (though probably best reserved for a challenge in which they get to use Lilly Pulitzer textiles, just to keep the degree of difficulty from vaulting into the triple digits). As is, a bit disappointing and something we've seen umpteen times, as noted.

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