The XX Factor

“Project Runway,’ Move Back East!

Can you destroy a great franchise in one episode? Project Runway is certainly trying hard. The new season, which aired last night, is now on Lifetime at 10. These two minor facts alone have ruined it as a family viewing experience. Ten is too late for the hordes of girl fans, including my daughter. And commercials on the Lifetime network (Spa Breeze, vacuums, odd vaginal ailments) are just too embarrassing for any self-respecting husband to sit through. More importantly, the show has moved to L.A., and now seems to be aiming for the tabloid reading public’s vision of what life in L.A. is like.

In previous seasons, the first challenge has often been offbeat-make dresses out of stuff you find in a grocery store. This season opened with a runway dress, no extra challenge-yawn. Lindsay Lohan judged, the resident addict broke down, the sneak peek of next week promised they would get to dress an actual celebrity. Also, now we get an extra hour of “behind the scenes with the models.” And finally, they kicked out the oddball, which they never do right off the bat .

Project Runway has always been TV Soulcraft for me. I like it because you get to see people actually make stuff-giant speeded-up art projects that can range from sublime to disastrous. Now, it feels like the craft might be taking a back seat to trumped up, Us Weekly- style drama. It’s only week one, so I’ll give it a chance. But at this point I have to steal a line from Tim Gunn: I’m worried.