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Are you dying to know who will design their way to victory this season on Project Runway or clip their way to the top on Shear Genius? Me too!

I’m obsessed with television reality shows that pit talent against talent in weekly elimination matches, voting off contestants one by one until the next American Idol, Food Network Star, or Top Chef is announced. I love getting to know the cast of characters, hearing their confidential interviews, and watching them battle it out in crazy challenges dreamed up by network executives and their evil minions. Join me here each week when we’ll take a look at the best and the worst of the current TV season’s competition shows.


THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE VICTORIOUS:
Last week we said goodbye to the current seasons of Design Star and Food Network Star in two sniffle-filled finales.

  
 
Jennifer Bertrand edged out the very talented Matt Locke for the grand prize on Design Star with a dramatic three-room, post-hurricane-disaster makeover. Jennifer, best known for her leaf-inspired graphic wall painting, won the chance to host her own design show on HGTV, complete with a carpenter/assistant to do all that icky sawing and stuff. Matt, who won the first challenge of the season and continued to rise to the top, acknowledged America’s decision with class and a hearty hug for Jennifer. There was no catfight ending (darn), only good wishes from someone who will most likely land many clients from his season of television exposure.

As the season wraps up, it pains me to say goodbye to such delicious personalities as Tracee, the designer voted least likely to play nice, Michael, the tearful dancer, and Stephanie, whose cleavage had a personality of its own.


Aaron McCargo, Jr. was crowned “Big Daddy in the Kitchen” during the Food Network Star’s last episode. Voted most personality off camera, Aaron finally managed to keep his down-home charm and big personality when the cameras were rolling, rocketing him to the top of the judges’ list.

Contestants each had to make an official programming audition video, with help from celebrity director Robin Leach. Fellow finalists Lisa Garza (the fashionista) and Adam Gertler (the funny one) provided equally entertaining videos, but Aaron’s approachability and on-camera confidence won him the big prize: his own show on The Food Network.

Big Daddy’s House, Aaron’s new Food Network cooking show, premiered this week, with a special episode dedicated to his sons. You can enjoy watching Aaron cook on Sunday afternoons at 1:30 ET/PT.


CURRENT COMPETITIONS:
Bravo TV’s Project Runway finally whittled down the gazillions of competitors this week to name the top twelve. The good news? We can finally get to know these designers as the focus narrows. There were so many bodies in the first few episodes that some designers didn’t get camera time until the runway show itself, making us turn to our fellow watchers and ask, “Who is that?”

This week featured guest judge Apolo Ohno, five-time Olympic medallist. The challenge was to create the American team women’s outfit for the Summer Olympics’ Opening Ceremony. Armed with a $150 budget, contestants created everything from a sporty skort to a 1940s inspired floppy hat.

Korto stole the show with a white linen and leather pantsuit, trimmed in patriotic colors. The white wide-legged pants and tube top were pulled together with a red and blue trimmed vest. The effect was an updated superhero-out-on-the-town vibe—perfectly Olympian.

Unfortunately for Jennifer, it was her last show. The judges didn’t think the darling little afternoon tea outfit was Olympic enough to represent us at the games. We’ll miss her cutesy frocks each week. Or not.

Coming next week: The designers must create an outfit for celebrity Brooke Shields. Guaranteed drama!


Dee proved to be Shear Genius this week with her near-perfect Pomeranian ‘do. Yes, Pomeranian. As in the dog kind of Pomeranian. Contestants were challenged to clip a new coif for a dog, then give the owner a cut and style inspired by the dog’s look. Why have professional stylist attempt dog grooming? Because it’s funny, that’s why.

While Paulo was a close second, Dee pulled ahead by using a flat iron and sticky styling products on both clients. The effect was eerie—dog and owner did indeed look like a pair.

We finally said goodbye to Nekisa, a frequent visitor to the bottom three during the competition. When asked about her talent as a hairdresser, her fellow contestants were most likely to reply, “She’s really pretty.” Enough said.

I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for next week’s installment, when judge Kim Vo exclaims from the runway, “I call it Violet Vomit.” How can you not watch that?


BIGGEST WHINER OF THE WEEK:
Project Runway’s surfer boy, Blayne, is concerned that his low melatonin levels are affecting his brain function. He wants to go to a tanning booth. Now.

COMING ATTRACTIONS:
NBC will be premiering a new cooking competition show this fall, called, The Chopping Block, where the drama is doubled. Contestants are couples who must work as a team each week to win the big prize. Since it will be edited for network TV, I see many, many bleeps in the show’s future. And marriage counselors.

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