Has Lifetime Ruined Project Runway? (Updated)

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Photo: Courtesy of Lifetime

This Thursday, Project Runway premieres on Lifetime after five seasons on Bravo. Lifetime executives, Heidi Klum, and Tim Gunn have made a painstaking effort to reassure the public the show is exactly the same as it was on Bravo. But with a reality-television show as important as this one and networks as disparate as these, even Gunn's word can't be trusted. The Daily News likens the move to "kidnapping Diana Ross and forcing her to wear work shirts made for Martha Stewart." But will Diana Ross throw on a pair of killer heels, steal a belt from her man, pop the collar, leave the top buttons undone, and make that shirt fierce, fabulous, and hers? Or will she simply flatten her hair and try to grow the best heirloom tomatoes this side of the Mississippi? The Daily News saw the first episode and reports that the former might be a possibility. The show retains the same production company — the Magical Elves — it had on Bravo. It was shot, but not given the final edit, before the Lifetime move was solidified.

The Daily News explains:

That means we still get to giggle over a soundtrack that lets snarky music underscore each contestant's flakiest comments. It also means the show's editing remains manically crisp, and its graphics stay as slashingly blunt as ever.

But the show has the same flavor of corniness as the promos, in which the contestants put their Lifetime hats on and discuss faith, family, and commitment.

[T]he way Lifetime presents the new cast in the first episode reaffirms the network's numbing dedication to the most clichéd themes — "triumph over adversity" and "it's a small world after all."

Oh gross, this isn't a pregnant teenager with a cigarette problem and a single mom who doesn't care. This is Project Runway! Thankfully, Heidi, Tim, Michael Kors, and Nina Garcia are still on to make the show feel like its old self. And the contestants include: Qrystal, who designs plus-size clothing she calls "plus sexy"; Johnny, an ex–crystal-meth addict who tried out for the show twice before cleaning up; and Ari, who designs "transformative clothing" intended to be shown in tents with special water purification systems. So we have the token obnoxiously optimistic person, the token recovering drug addict, and the token wannabe fairy. These key ingredients could save the show. But not having it preceded by a Real Housewife of New Jersey who throws dinner tables on people she's jealous of will never feel quite right. Because at the end of the day, you might do something amazing with Martha Stewart's work shirt, but it will always be Martha Stewart's work shirt.

'Project' revamp: Leaving its edgy Bravo home, will 'Runway' be the letdown of a Lifetime? [NYDN]

Update: The Magical Elves did not in fact produce the sixth season of Project Runway, as the Daily News reported. Maybe we should just curl into a ball and fly our white flags now.