Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned from Reality TV - Lesson Five
Lesson Five: Skills Don’t Always Pay the Bills

(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…)

On the arts-n-crafts end of the reality show spectrum (shows that focus on specific abilities like cooking, fashion design or fashion modeling, which is an actual skill no matter how much it seems to the outside observer to only entail standing still and looking mildly hostile), contestants live or die – figuratively speaking, of course – by their skills.

Or so it seems it should be.

But the fact is in reality television, as in reality, often the most skilled is not necessarily the most rewarded.  It is, of course, one of the most demoralizing things about adult life: the moment you realize all of your teachers weren’t being entirely accurate, and the real world isn’t really just about working hard and doing a good job.  Sometimes you can do exactly that and get passed over.  Or as in reality television, get kicked off the show entirely.

Bravo’s craft-related shows are generally top-notch: well-produced, with industry heavyweight guest judges who add an air of credibility and legitimacy to the proceedings.  However, even their shows occasionally have completely head-scratching moments of cruelly sending off the solidly-talented while allowing the marginally incompetent or at least questionable to remain.

The last episode of Top Design was one such example.  Few would argue that ousted designer Felicia Bushman’s room was a serious misstep.  She clearly lost her sense of the direction with her room and got off-track, resulting in a hodgepodge room that displeased her client.

 However, she found herself in the bottom two with Ryan Humphrey.  Ryan is primarily an installation artist in real life, and seemed almost dismissive about the profession of interior design, and had created designs that – while arguably visually interesting – were uncomfortable or even potentially dangerous, like the sharp edges on his child’s bed.  Felicia, on the other hand, has serious design credentials, and, other than this misstep, had demonstrated solid design sense in previous competitions.

So, this home viewer thought for sure, that the scornful and possibly injurious non-designer would be sent home.  But not so!  Why?  Who really knows?  The inner workings of reality eliminations are too complex for this little mind to comprehend, but talented Felicia is gone, and Ryan lives to sneer at paint chips and fabric swatches another day.

 Another Bravo surprise was in the last season of Project Runway.  In the Episode “Waste Not Want Not,” talented young designer Alison Kelly also had a major misstep when working with the recycled material challenge.  As Michael Kors put it, her dress looked like “a paper brioche” and was especially unflattering to her relatively-larger model.  And yes, that hair bow was a very bad idea.

  However, alongside her in the worst of the bunch was Vincent Libretti.  If you did not watch that season of Project Runway, it will be hard for me to convey how many kinds of oddball was Vincent, and how uniformly unsuccessful nearly all of his prior entries, including his effort for this episode.  His model could barely walk in his dress, and visually, it looked like less like it was designed from recycled materials and more that a recycle bin threw up on the front of it and then the results were shellacked in place.  Vincent was called out as among the worst for three of the prior episodes as well, with one of the lowlights being the infamous basket hat.

 Alison on the other hand, was not only solid in previous episodes, but was actually called out as being among the best, both individually and as a member of the team.  She was also amiable and articulate, and although that might not make for excellent television, the show still had plenty of colorful characters to create drama.  Her dismissal caused a flurry of dissatisfaction among the show’s fans, who had to seriously question the legitimacy of the review process if it allowed Vincent to remain while she went home.

But this is, of course, how the cookie crumbles and, in reality television, as in life, sometimes merit is not enough; sometimes there are mysterious other forces/meddling producers that choose to reward the unworthy while leaving the skilled out in the cold.

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Images Courtesy of Bravo)

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