Tuned In

Project Runway: Fans vs. Favorites

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Jennifer and Tim check out the groceries. / Bravo Photo: Barbara Nitke

Spoilers for last night’s season five opener of Project Runway coming up after the jump:

OK, so season five of Runway isn’t actually Fans vs. Favorites, but by reprising the first challenge of the first season—the legendary trip to Gristede’s, where Austin Scarlett came up with a use for maize that Squanto never showed the Pilgrims—it begged comparison of the current crop of contestants to the first batch. Having around half the group lame out by basing their outfits on tablecloths wasn’t a good sign, although to be honest, I may be overrating the first group in my memory; besides Austin’s winning corn-husk dress, I believe the first group used plenty of shower curtains and other fabric-like material. But I’m glad the judges decided to pick Kelli, rather than reward Korto simply for being the most Scarlett-like by using produce (i.e., garnishing her yellow tablecloth with a salad).

It’s always a little worrisome when a reality show starts replaying its greatest hits. The advantage of bringing back a nostalgia challenge, though, is that it gave us a point of comparison that related to something we’d already seen on the show. The first rounds of reality shows, especially ones that start with casts as big as Runway’s, is that for the first few episodes most of the contestants blend together in a mass, and the ones who stand out are usually the most obnoxious and catchphrase-spouting. This season, meet Blayne, the suntan fanatic who likes the suffix “-licious”; and Suede, who talks about Suede in the third person too much.

While I have a few less-than-favorites, I have no clue yet who’s likely to win, or even who I want to. Mostly, I’m just glad to have a Wednesday appointment for the summer again. What say you? Were the groceries fresh or stale?