Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned from Reality TV - Lesson 3
Lesson Three: The All-Tim Gunn Edition

(You might think that reality television is one of the signs of the impending end of Western Civilization, BUT if you look closely enough, you can find some important life lessons.  So, kids, here’s One to Grow On…)

Sometimes, if people are faking it on reality television, I just don’t want to know.  I would be disappointed if New York from Flavor of Love turned out to be a really nice person in real life.  But I think I would be just crushed if Tim Gunn  of Project Runway turned out to be much less than the persona he and the producers of Bravo have created.

It’s not to say he doesn’t have his detractors.  Gawker recently got Zulema Griffin from Season Two on camera saying he’s not the sweet guy we see on the show.  But whatever: it was Zulema. I’m going to personally keep right on loving him.  Why?

Because for one, having actually attended a school for people in a creative field, I can say from experience that Tim Gunn has a quality that can be difficult to find in a teacher for the arts: the ability to generally set aside personal taste to focus on the individual needs of the student (or in this case, reality show contestant) at the moment. 

While Tim has never expressly outlined his taste, it was still fairly clear that were he to sit down and design a frock, it probably wouldn’t look anything like the creations of some of the more outré contestants like Jeffrey Sebelia or Santino Rice.  Nevertheless, he actively sets aside his own preferences to best focus on how to offer support and guidance to the individual for their vision.  In his excellent iTunes podcasts, he has been candid about how challenging this can be, but his attempts to find a way are admirable, and instructive to anyone who might be in a position to work with students in a creative field.

He has also been candid about his difficulty managing the occasional personality clashes he might have with, say, a Zulema or Vincent Libretti.  But despite his own opinions, his podcasts reveal a sense of self-awareness about his own role in the conflict that is rare in real life, much less reality television.

Another reason to love Tim is that despite the potential silliness of it all – it is, after all, a reality show – Tim still treats the contestants, the challenges, and even the occasional scandals with dignity and gravitas. 

It’s in large part due to his presence that Project Runway has become the breakout hit for Bravo that it has, and why fans everywhere momentarily panicked when he recently announced that he is leaving Parsons to take a role with Liz Claiborne.  Luckily, his relationship with the show will continue, so we will also continue to have the opportunity to see him interact with the Project Runway designers.

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned from Reality TV:

Lesson 1: How to Wrestle Back Dignity from Utter Humiliation
Lesson 2: How to Lose Friends and Alienate Everybody
Lesson 3: The All-Tim Gunn Edition
Lesson 4: Why We Love Bad Boys and Girls
Lesson 5: Skills Don't Always Pay the Bills
Lesson 6: Law of the Jungle
Lesson 7: Mean Girls Do Cry