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Project Runway and Lifetime: Can the Dress Fit?

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Lifetime has released its first trailer for the upcoming season 6 of Project Runway (plus new companion series Models of the Runway): 

On the one hand, it looks like, well, another season of Project Runway. But I’m still left wondering whether the show will seem mismatched in the context of Lifetime network. 

On the one hand, Project Runway’s audience has always been considerably female, so on a superficial level, its jumping to Lifetime makes demographic sense. But psychographic sense is another question. One reason besides simple ratings that Bravo wanted so badly to keep the show (which left in a bitterly litigated move) is that it fits so well with Bravo’s sensibility. In fact, you could argue that Project Runway (together with Queer Eye) pretty much created Bravo’s current sensibility: arch, sophisticated, a little bitchy and dedicated to a half-ironic take on consumer culture. 

Lifetime’s sensibility, its personality, on the other hand, is quite different: traditionally it’s earnest where Bravo is snarky, dedicated to positivity, uplift and catharsis. It can be fun and escapist, of course, but not in a snide way. It’s Army Wives not Real Housewives. 

Now you have Bravo, with a full slate of programming that in one way or another complements Runway. And Lifetime, whose programming (including new shows like the positive-image-conscious Drop Dead Diva) decidedly does not. I was concerned Runway might change its tone to fit Lifetime. Judging from the scant evidence on the trailer it doesn’t look like that, yet anyway. But the production f the trailer—the sunny, get-excited! voiceover, for instance—do seem much more Lifetime than Bravo. 

Now, to me, frankly, Runway’s context won’t make much difference: I’ll probably watch every episode on TiVo and thus miss every commercial and reference to any Lifetime product outside the show. (Except for the on-screen bugs that I assume Lifetime will saturate Runway with, if it’s smart.)

But I have to wonder if this will be a jarring match for some Runway fans, and some Lifetime fans. I have to wonder if one or the other, the show or the channel, will ultimately have to adapt to fit. And if so—which one will it be?

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