Friday, March 14, 2014

Under the Gunn S1 E9: "Trouble in the Lounge"

You know you're in for a Very Special Episode when the title of the episode doesn't even reference the challenge. With a title like Trouble in the Lounge, one might think that we're going to some sort of bad girl bar, and the challenge is to make evening lounge wear that borders slutty. Or, maybe a biker leather challenge. But, really, today's challenge has nothing to do with trouble, and it would have to be a fancy lounge.

Yes, dear readers, this is a huge drama episode. And, it actually centers around a designer. We're also back to a Nick-heavy episode. But, surprisingly, it isn't a Nick vs Designer episode. So, it's a new formula!  We're all about new forms of storytelling within the given formula here, as long as it works.

But I get ahead of myself. Thanks episode title. The challenge this week is the periodic day to evening outfit. The outfit has to transform on the runway, in front of the judges. It's all because ladies are fickle as all hell women like choices. If you expect them to be able to choose between scents to decorate their house, how do you expect them to commit to a look for day and evening? I keed. Everybody knows that it is really convenient to go from the office straight to dinner to the theater when you get off work at 5, the theater starts at 7, and your home is an hour (round trip) out of the way.

The designers start sketching, and as they start sketching EVERYBODY starts bitching. Bitching about who? They're all bitching about Natalia. In case you don't remember, last week Natalia had that really interesting weaving thing, while both Michelle and Stephanie (the bottom two) had neon plastic things, where the former was trashy 80s acid raver, and the latter was so completely unfinished. I guess people liked Stephanie over Natalia, on a personal level. Suddenly, all the other designers (except Oscar), and both Mondo and Anya start to gang up against Natalia. They're bitching because they thing that Nick is giving Natalia far too much help and is way too handsy.

Mind you, Nick opens the episode by reinforcing everybody else's opinions. He starts by giving tips and ideas to both Oscar and Natalia, and also spending extra time with Natalia to help her through her emotional battles. The editors chose to make a victim narrative out of Natalia for this episode from the first frame. To me, it seemed to come out of nowhere, but maybe I'm missing something. Natalia seems like a frenetic girl but she doesn't seem mean to anybody. If we're making a hard working but emotional person who doesn't sabotage anybody else into either a victim or a villain, you know we're stretching for plot.

Of course, Natalia breaks down by the first break, in part because the editor has edited all of the people to be angry at her. If you know anything about microaggressions, they do add up. But, they add up especially if 85% of the people in your area are angry at you because they felt you should have gone home.

This is also a Nick's Growth episode that seems like a repeat storyline. Early in the episode he's telling Oscar to make a shirt dress with snaps and how to make it transform. But, by the end of the episode (at least in front of Tim), he's asking the designers to edit themselves. Didn't he already have this revelation? Hasn't he said "OMG, I should really trust my designers?" Namely, in the team episode. How many times can he have this revelation??

Anyways, we actually get some comparison with both Mondo and Anya. Both of them are attempting to disengage from the designers, and not tell their designers that their ideas are shit. They haven't quite figured out how to critique ideas constructively. Anya's critiques are "You might want to reconsider the pants." Or "This would look really boring in black." Mondo's critiques are "finish it off. Super clean." "Back up a little and just let it be more organic." Instead of challenging their designer's concepts, several of which are extremely hideous, they're content to just give tips on finishing. And, in Mondo's case, moral support.

They don't pull a Joanna Coles and say "this outfit is going to look like its a 70s throwback." Or, "That first silhouette looks like a sack and the second look looks like a straitjacket." Even on day 2, when Shan has a too wide cummerbund wraparound, Anya asks "what can we do about that?" without actually making a comment as to why it looks so bad.

There has to be a balance. I know that you're supposed to be playing team captain, but you need to be really really critical sometimes when the designers are going down a wrong road. This is part of being a good leader. Knowing when to encourage, and when you need to yank the wheel to the left.

Through many tears and indifferences, we actually make it to the runway, somehow. Today's special guest is Macklemore...who...ugh. Yeah, yeah, I know...he made a song about gay marriage that was radio friendly and blah blah blah, but I have strong negative fee fees about him that don't belong here. And, why can't we ever get Ryan Lewis? He seems to be the less douchey of the two.

Team Anya

  • Shen: The whole outfit and idea is simple but cute. However, that cummerbund seems slightly off in its proportions, in part because I really don't like that fabric. My mom used to have suits like that in the 90s, which I guess are coming back in, but it never was a good fabric. For the night look, I can't tell if the cummerbund comes completely off or if it ties back around. Imagine having a big ol bump of fabric lumped in your back if you're sitting in a theater?  Maybe it's not that bad. But, I loved the zipper skirt idea. Suggested criticism: "That fabric is recalling Talbot from the 90s, use sparingly."
  • Blake: This is so 70s, when we're all about reclaiming the 90s (I think? Are we still in the 80s?). Anyways, the bell bottom pants are recockulous in how exagerrated the bottoms are. Then, for night time, the model keeps the super long vest which went kind of well with the pants, but now re-emphasizes how short the cocktail dress is. And, really, that's the problem with his concept in the first place. To have a cocktail's dress worth of fabric in your pants, you'd have to be shoving fabric half way down your legs! It's a good idea that is impossible to do. It would have been better with a longer shirt and a pencil skirt. Suggested criticism: "Your dress is skewing 70s with the bell bottom and the fabric choices. Update for the '10s."
Team Nick
  • Natalia: The first look is nice and winter warm for a cold day at the office, especially for some of you people who really like their areas cranked up into the 80s and 90s in the middle of winter. This looks nice and cozy warm for that cold office that you have to heat with a space heater. The finishing of how the knit wool lays on the dress is unfinished, but not in a distracting way. That the knit turns into a handbag (WHAT?!) is strange and bizarre and I'd love it, except where does she put her other purse? And, does her new purse actually hold anything? The dress beneath is kind of off-the-rack but its also fresh and sporty.
  • Oscar: I dunno you guys. I kind of don't like this look. The two front slits for the daytime are a bit trampy high for office wear. And, with the black cape, the outfit is rather boring. But, when she flips the cape, all of a sudden its really trashy Real Housewives ugly.
Team Mondo
  • Asha: No. The extra padding on the jacket adds like 30 pounds to a woman's body, and made this super thin model look pregnant. It's asymmetrical, and unbalanced. And, it serves no purpose as the jacket doesn't turn inside out or do any weird tricks. The skirt is OK in the day, but when it flips for night, (which is the only transformation that I can tell), it looks like she hiked her skirt up to use the bathroom and her slip is on the outside. Suggested criticism: "What's with all this extra padding? You made a model look pregnant. Do you know how hard that is??"
  • Michelle: The daytime look seems like it was inspired by California beachwear, except in a drab palette. It's like a sad grey sack from the front with a brown poopy back. But then the even look is worse since she creates a pseudo harness with these pieces of fabric and string that hang down, making it look like she's got her sweatshirt tied around her waist. It completely doesn't work from either perspective. Suggested criticism: "That's a snoozefest. Do something to liven it up because your color selection needs help."
  • Sam: I really love the evening dress because it is so easy and fresh. But, the daytime jacket makes it seem like she's wearing a smock, and I can't get over how high on the collar and boxy it is. Plus, the colors clash. Suggested criticism: "That looks like a smock."
In the end, Michelle goes home because we needed to even out the teams (cynical much?). Oscar wins because...I don't know. Today's runway was kind of full of ugly today. We've had much much better day to evening transformation challenges, and this was kind of an all around fail. 

The episode doesn't end there! After the judging, everybody is bitter that Natalia not only didn't lose, but was in the top. They think that Nick was helping too much, and it has been too late in the game. While I tend to agree with this reasoning, the problem is that the judges (except for Tim) don't actually see this work manipulation process. In the end, it just comes off like really bitter sour grapes.

Stray observations:
  • Mondo's hair shirt is back. Yay?
  • What the hell is up with Mondo's appropriation of the late 80s hip hop style with the cap, chunky gold chain and sweater?  I guess that it isn't being used at the moment, but its so fucking hipster and crass, it makes me want to slap him silly. It seems fitting that Mondo's appropriation trumped Macklemore's.
  • Speaking of Macklemore, he really didn't have much to add this episode, did he?
  • The way Mondo and Anya ganged up on Nick was really patently unfair. Saying "I think your designer sucks" is not a valid criticism. Sorry, assholes. Then, mocking him for saying your attitude sucks just adds to your mean girls attitude. Blah. I wonder if the producers pushed them into it because it seems rather unlike Mondo otherwise.

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