Is awarding Reality TV as outstanding an oxymoron? Some would say so. Me? I'm hooked on it like a drug. Let's get to it.
Our first honoree: Cat Deeley, host of So You Think You Can Dance? Cat Deeley is the bang-up host of SYTYCD? that for some odd reason can't get any love from the Emmys in a category designed to award the best reality hosts. She's engaging and charming, down to earth and glamorous, and not afraid of pushing buttons for her own amusement. If you can look past her obsession with shiny metallic clothes (picked by her, since she's her own stylist), she's probably the best part of the show. Here she is reacting to krumper Russel dancing while dressed as Santa Clause. Hilarious. This is how she always is: a delight.
I doubt Seacrest could have handled this with such likability. You can almost get past the arguably racist reaction of the entire judging panel because of how charming Cat is.
Our next honoree: The Judging Panel of RuPaul's Drag Race. Can I just tell you how amazing RuPaul, Merle, Santino, plus a rotating guest judge were at hitting all of the Top Model cliches while actually managing funny comments and constructive criticism. This should be the gold standard of Reality TV judging. If only everyone could be basked in a soft pink glow and seen through a heavily filtered lens, the world would be a lovelier place.
Two reality vets (well, Merle did Launch My Line after season 1) and a genuine supermodel. What could be better? We'll catch up with RuPaul and the gang later on.
Our next honoree: Gordana Gehlhausen's Getty Center Dress on Project Runway. The transition from Bravo to Lifetime has been hard on Project Runway. A lot of the spark and magic was missing, partly from the constantly rotating panel of judges that resulted in lots of inconsistencies and bizarre decisions. For me, the true gem of the season was the horribly misunderstood Gordana Gehlhausen. It's rare for a reality contestant to be so focused on their own aesthetic that they do not let constant hijinks and negative feedback destroy them on national television. What the judges assumed (and by judges, I mean Heidi, who hated Gordana for no discernible reason) was weakness and an inability to defend an outfit was genuine humility and a focused style from a mentally stable designer. This dress is arguably the single greatest garment to walk the runway of the LA Project Runway studio and she was sent home for it. Ridiculous decision considering how well she captured the ethereal beauty of a wonderful painting of a cathedral:
Stunning. She manipulated the fabric by hand to create the brush stroke effect and wound up with the perfect color match from her inspiration. Her goal on the show was to inspire young people to consider pursuing their goals, especially in fashion. I have no doubt that she was successful. Brava, Gordana.
Our next honorees: Vogue Evolution and We Are Heroes on America's Best Dance Crew. We finally got an all female crew to win ABDC and it only took the judges throwing the all gay crew under the bus to get there. Let's start with Vogue Evolution: the crew did not once sacrifice their ball aesthetic once throughout the contest to be the most personable and consistently entertaining crew. They were brow-beaten after losing a close friend and MTV chose that would to manipulate the audience into not voting for the crew anymore. They landed in the bottom two once and were promptly eliminated. At least we'll always have week 1, no? And their fantastic audition.
Our winner for Outstanding Achievement in Reality TV is RuPaul's Drag Race. Not since Survivor has a Reality show jumped out of the gates with such a consistent, high level of quality. The show does not take itself too seriously but does not demean what these contestants are doing. They are not treated as freaks (like a certain modeling show or a certain singing show) but real people, with a level of sensitivity unprecedented on competitive reality shows. The show is fun and endlessly watchable. believe it makes drag accessible to a wide audience. You do not need to be a drag performer, drag fan, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered person to enjoy it. I'm straight and find myself catching the marathons of the entire first season whenever they're on TV. Ok, maybe you need some tolerance for camp. You can watch the entire first season on Logo's website. It's worth it. Don't forget all the bonus features. And now I'll get a song stuck in your head for the rest of your life: "Cover Girl (Put The Bass In Your Walk)." You're welcome.
RuPaul's new album is great, by the way. Perfect party music if you like dance.