Cheap knockoffs are as ubiquitous in television as they are in the fashion industry so it stands to reason that there's a two-fer to be had in Bravo's "The Fashion Show," a louder, more garish version of "Project Runway," once a Bravo hit that moves to Lifetime in August.
Format-wise, "Project Runway" and "The Fashion Show" (10 tonight) are pretty similar. Designers compete for a top prize -- $125,000, in this case -- by completing weekly design competitions. Along the way, they backbite and fuss.
Comparatively, "Project Runway," which has had its share of outrageous characters, is the classier of the pair. Characters in "The Fashion Show" are so over-the-top, the show might as well be animated.
- When: 10 tonight, Bravo
Merlin, in particular, is a cartoon. He sashays in wearing a ridiculous red get-up that includes a 2-foot-long feather sticking out of his cap. He's like the world's most overly dramatic pimp. Upon introduction, another contestant says she thought she heard him say his name is "Super Mario." It would be a more appropriate fit.
Much of the work on display in the first hour seems inferior to the designs seen on "Project Runway." Yet many of these designers are further advanced in their careers, including underwear mogul Andrew "the Panty Christ" Christian.
Kelly Rowland plays the role of Heidi Klum and Isaac Mizrahi is this show's Tim Gunn, but Mizrahi only proves how invaluable the gentlemanly Gunn is to "Project Runway." Mizrahi trades Gunn's "Make it work" catch phrase for "Hey, kids," when referring to the contestants.
At least some of the criticism of the designs -- particularly by Harper's Bazaar's Laura Brown -- is unnecessarily nasty and snide. There also seems to be more early conflict between contestants than on "Project Runway."
Tonight's extended episode -- it runs until 11:15 p.m. -- comes off as the trashier, less sophisticated cousin to "Project Runway." If that's the appeal of "Runway," then have at it. But if you're a design fan, "The Fashion Show" may prove to be an unfashionable disappointment.
When: 10 tonight, Bravo.