For Gretchen Jones, Reality Just Might Bite


Which came first – the reality TV show or reality? Sometimes I’m not quite sure.

Participating as a voyeur in other people’s lives – watching them lose weight, survive on desert islands, swap wives and attempt to woo fashion industry professionals – is sort of fun. We ask questions in private like “Will the chunky guy go back to eating excessively?” “Will the villainous bunch of survivalists win, or will the heroes who always play it safe?” (We keep our fingers crossed for the contestants with the attitudes so we can hate them more and are guaranteed good office fodder later.)

Finally, while watching the popular fashion show where mostly young designers compete, we look for the scapegoat because we always have to pit forces of evil against someone young and pretty.

We’re all sort of suckers for this stuff, but sometimes there’s a line that gets crossed. Don’t blame Project Runway for all of it.

The Project Runway producers are only doing their job editing the show to make you feel one way or another, cutting out pieces that really happened and obscuring them somehow behind a dramatic lens which makes us tune in weekly. We’d be bored stiff if they didn’t.


But here’s where we really pay attention, when Gretchen Jones, Project Runway’s only sustainable designer, advances each week and our love affair with her becomes difficult at times thanks to careful editing on the part of the show. I guess I also find it hard to digest comments I’ll see on the show’s Facebook page when reality junkies (the likes of which perhaps never make it out of their parents’ basements) say things like, “When Time Gunn yelled at her it made my whole week!” or “Did you see how robotic she was talking to her mother? Like she couldn’t care less!” or one of my favorites, “Time for the bitch to go home!”


Who are these people who can freely dish out comments like that or pretend to understand anything about a young woman who gave up everything to be on this show? Social media, in conjunction with bad behavior, allows anyone to say whatever they want without full commitment to what they’re actually writing. Imagine saying the same things you write in conversations with actual people?

Everyone knows I love the girl, but maybe this is a long look at a woman’s right to be strong and straightforward in American society. Are we really that scared of it? And if a woman like Gretchen does make dumb mistakes because of the pressure of TV and losing everything, are we really that mean that we can call her out as a bitch? A villain? I like to imagine if Gretchen acted like Cassanova and threw a fit on the couch because people didn’t like her designs, she’d be despised too – but that cute accent and being gay makes him exempt? Is it because she’s a woman? Inquiring minds want to know.

For Gretchen, this faux reality just might bite, but we know she’ll stay strong and hopefully we’ll see the bad ass bitch make it to the end.

Top Image: Lisa Warninger

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18 thoughts on “For Gretchen Jones, Reality Just Might Bite

  1. Thank you thank you thank you!!! I’ve been trying to articulate this to my friends for months now!!! Silly people brainwashed by reality tv once again. Now, when can I start buying Gretchenwear!

  2. Gretchen is
    1. a horrible designer. (Clothes made for 60 year old women who can’t see)
    2. She’s a backstabber in team challenges
    3. She didn’t treat micheal nicely. I don’t care if he wasn’t nice, she shouldn’t have returned it with her meanness.

    It has nothing to do with her being a woman, (what an ignorant, sexist excuse), or editing because her actions on the runway and her designs weren’t cut, copied, and pasted.

    also, several of the winners have been female. poor excuse for a poor designer.

  3. Hi Christina,

    Take a breath.
    Knowing a lot about what happened that you don’t on the show I will say that editing was everything and that the minute Tim Gunn said those words to Gretchen is when all the hating started.

    They edited out on the reunion show his formal apology to her. I asked Gretchen at different points in the show if she really walked around telling people what to do and she said they edited out all those people calling on her for advice so it looked like she was some bossy girl walking around telling everybody what to do.
    Creating at least one person you don’t like is part of every reality show and unfortunately, Gretchen was the one.
    (still not sure why it wasn’t Ivy or Mondo who were always rude?)
    If you watch the whole season all over again you’ll see everyone talked behind each others backs.

    I’m not sure the Lifetime network is helping in this at all either. Trying to get people to keep talking about your program and underscoring the winner picked by your hosts is, in my opinion, a really bad idea.

    I keep harping on this show and Gretchen because I really think shows like this are a great representation of how duped we’ve all become believing what TV offers us as truth and I am scared that we all believe what they feed us.
    Your comments scare me Becki and Christina.

  4. I get really sick of people throwing out the whole these people are edited this way blah blah blah, it they didn’t act that way those scenes would not be in there. And an hour and a half is a lot of time to fill so they included a lot more in each edit, lets be honest there is a reason there are a lot of scenes of her being being dislikable because she has dislikable habits, being judgmental, arrogant, mean, bossy, and controlling. If she didn’t talk about people behind their back there would not be scenes of her talking behind peoples back. She did do things like walk from station to station giving her input like she is Tim Gunn. That’s not clever editing thats what happened. Its great that she is a sustainable clothing designer, we do need more of them (her terrible collection at fashion week aside) but that doesn’t mean she is a good person.

  5. Pingback: Gretchen Jones Wins Project Runway | EcoSalon | The Green Gathering

  6. First, Gretchen is not a great designer, in no way, shape or form. Who would wear anything she has designed on this show? She doesn’t even dress well herself! And if she has had to struggle to get to where she is, then she should be a better person for it, not the mean-spirited, jealous, heartless egotist she has turned out to be. She needs a change of attitude and lessons in humility. A few lessons in sewing wouldn’t hurt, either. The best episode to date was the one where Tim Gunn totally put her in her place — and if anyone noticed, she didn’t stand up for herself then! She knew he was right. I would not be proud to call her MY friend.

  7. I love that you wrote this post, good for you! Some of the things written about this girl are just plain ruthless, although everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I am a Gretchen fan, and I have no doubt that she’ll go to fashion week. This season is so much more exciting than the last two. Project Runway fan for life!

  8. Again, hard to be vocal when you’re being edited Remy.
    They asked her at the beginning if she was sure really wanted to portray herself as a sustainable designer if that gives you any idea of how little she has to say.

    If she wins I hope she takes it all and establishes herself and rebuilds herself.
    Much bigger voice now than at one time having to sell baked goods in front of her apartment building just to buy fabric.

  9. The sustainable element is excluded from the show, whether in editing or by Gretchen staying silent to fit in. I think the problem here is that she has not been vocal about her green convictions, in essence setting aside her number one asset to fit in with the rest of the crowd, which wants to design for the Jersey Shore. In the event Gretchen wins… unlikely given the atmosphere, would she turn down the $100.000 prize? Would she stick to her principles like a Marlon Brando would? Or would she take the money and justify it somehow knowing everything that we know about the company? Shows like Project Runway, channels like Planet Greenwashing, only succeed in watering down our message of emergency, hurry up and wait for the sake of the sponsors. We need to create our own media if we want to kick ass, because all the mainstream will ever do is corner us, and make us look defused. You can feel Gretchen’s frustration on the show, and that’s because she allowed herself to be muzzled.

  10. Oh man, I could write a lengthy comment back to each one of you but instead I will just say, having just left Gretchen at the Project Runway finale in NYC and seeing all 10 final collections and designers, it’s hard not to appreciate all of them.
    Genevieve, you’re right about how hard they all work. Each designer was so damn tired they came out crying (except April).
    And Danielle, yes, Gretchen is pandering to the wrong crowd but a strange necessary evil these days is right. How sad. I talked to Gretchen’s family about some of the other things she’s had to do like selling baked goods outside her apartment to buy fabric. This may not be the worst venue she’s had to walk down!
    And to anyone who considers Tim Gunn a respected person whom you base all your opinions on, shame on you! He’s part of the show and just as edited as the designers.

  11. Gender aside, the strong must be protected from the weak.

    Consider the reality TV audience…by “robotic” the commenter meant articulate.

    Also the bleach blonde designer who likened Gretchen to Hitler! The use of Hitler as some mild brandishment is a common mistake of those who have suffered no real tragedies themselves.

    In my opinion Gretchen is pandering to the wrong crowd, a seemingly necessary evil in these times.

  12. I’ve known Gretchen personally for a long time, and I am so proud of her for having guts and going out there and shining like a star! It is hard to hear people snark about her, but frankly the lady gives good TV, makes great clothes and has absolutely given herself over to her passions. She is inspiring and fabulous. She has come SO FAR, as someone who has known her work from the very very beginning, she should be a poster child for anyone who has a dream and knows it is going to take everything you’ve got to make it happen.

    Gretchen isn’t the only one who has worked hard to get where she is on this show. So many of the contestants are truly talented hardworking individuals, something that sometimes gets lost through the airwaves. They are ALL inspirations!! I think it is easy to forget that the human is different from the character they are made into through the television. Thanks for writing about my talented friend!!

  13. As a fellow eco-conscious designer, I say thank goodness for Gretchen, her creativity and talent, and commitment to sustainable fashion. I hope people are able to see past editing to the very obviously talented designer who, in my opinion, is deserving of the win.

  14. Notice how Tim says “you will be missed” to every cute boy but only to a few select women? I think the industry is sexist, in general, one that assumes that males (Valentino, Armani, Jacobs, Lauren) make the most brilliant designers, and helping one another network the same way it is done among the young Hollywood crowd. With that said, Gretchen’s problem is she is a control freak and while that probably works well in the world of design it doesn’t translate well in reality television. More troubling to me is the lack of sportsmanship, the way the designers ganged up on Michael C. despite the fact he continues to win the challenges. It’s just poor form, something kids learn in micro soccer. Shake hands whether you win or lose. It’s a game.

  15. Time Gunn has always been a champion of strong, talented women on Project Runway. If he has a problem with Gretchen (and clearly he does) then I have to believe her shortcomings are not all the fault of selective editing.

  16. I am a big fan of Project Runway, and alot of reality shows. Perhaps you may judge me as “one that never leaves my basement” LOL. I see you are a big fan of Gretchen Jones. Good for you, I guess that would make you one of the millions who comment about her in social media. Isn’t it great to be an American women with opinions? Surely you can not take comments you read about your favorite designer to heart to the point that it upsets your stomach? LOL
    You blogged and where vocal about how upsetting certain comments make you feel. In the same regard if you can dish it out you should be able to take other fellow people’s comments. They are simply stating there personal feelings as well. When you sign up for one of these shows that’s what happens…. H E L L O what tunnel are you traveling through??
    So on that note, I love Casanova and I can’t stand Gretchen’s DESIGNS, (not personal) although I love sustainable designs, I find her things boring. There I said it, please don’t hate me! But if you do no worries I am a strong women who won’t go cry in a corner, I hope Gretchen is just as strong, otherwise TV did BITE and taught her a big lesson… SENSITIVE people should not sign up for REALITY TV.

  17. You have to always assume people are being edited to emphasize characteristics and make good TV, like you said. I completely agree that if Casanova weren’t who he is, we’d be criticizing him for his tantrum. That was silly, but we laugh because he’s great to watch.
    I loved Gretchen first 2-3 episodes, then she started being too much the focus, and they show her as very talkative, opinionated, bossy, etc. Is that really her or what they want us to see? I’m sure everyone else displays those characteristics at some point or another. She’s a great designer, so I base my opinion on that. Isn’t that what the show is about?
    Take Michael C.- he talks so much (behind the scenes) and says some mean things, albeit laughing, but I’m sure he means what he says. Yet i find him endearing.
    Its all very subjective, but we really shouldnt judge because who knows how we’d act if in those high pressure situations.
    Cant wait for tomorrow’s episode!


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