Project Runway – Why Do They Hate Costello?

September 13th, 2010

Friday night I had a little Project Runway fest and caught up on all the episodes for season 8 that were still available on Hulu.  My boys watched three episodes with me.  They like the competitive aspect of the show and they like to judge the outfits and try to predict who will win.  I love having my sons take an interest in a show that is about design and creativity.

While catching up with the show I grew more and more alarmed at what seems to be a bizarre hatred for one of the contestants – Michael Costello.  He is almost uniformly despised by everyone and I can’t figure out why.  He seems so harmless.  In fact he almost seems boring compared to the other characters on the show.  Is he too normal?  Too mainstream?  He has won two of the challenges, but the other contestants insist that he can’t sew calling him what I guess is a derogatory term in the fashion world, ‘a draper’.  I keep wondering how this can be possible.  How can you sew an evening gown if in fact – you can’t even sew?  Do elves make his gowns for him while he sleeps?  Clearly he can sew, so then why do all the other contestants insist that he can’t?

After partnering with Costello on the latest challenge, another contestant named Mondo heroically and humbly admitted that he was completely mistaken about Costello and even tried to change the other contestant’s minds about him.  But when Michael walked back into the room and very humbly and quietly announced the had had won his second challenge he was greeted with complete and icy silence.  No one even pretended to care or to offer the the most hollow of congratulations.

I realize that not everyone watches the show, but I was wondering if anyone else has any ideas as to where this hatred for Costello comes from?  I know that the show is a series of sound bytes and we could be missing some huge moment where Michael acted like such an ass that we would all understand why he is so disliked, but I can’t imagine they would cut a moment like that from the show.  If what appears on the show is accurate at all, the negative feelings that the other contestants have for Costello seem to be based entirely on the fact that they think he is weak on sewing skills which is such a bizarre reason to hate someone that I can’t even fathom it.  It’s like being in a cake contest and hating the contestant who doesn’t know how to turn on the oven.  If that person ended up winning the round one in the bake-off, I would say WHOA!  I guess they figured out how to bake without an oven and that is pretty dang amazing or maybe they know how to turn it on after all!

I think Costello made a crucial mistake when he assembled all the ‘winners’ in his group for the team challenge.  It’s an honest mistake and I can see how one might want to comprise a team of ‘super stars’ in the hopes of winning a challenge, but it seriously back fired on him as all the ‘stars’ belittled him the entire time which leads me to the following questions…

1.  If you were vying for a large and important prize and could assemble any type of team to help you to win, would you assemble a team full of super stars or would you assemble a team based on a different idea such as friendship, personality, team players – etc…

2.  What do you really think is motivating the hatred for Costello on that show?

3.  Who do you think is the best designer on the show this season so far?

4.  In your opinion, which designer is the most likable as a general human being?

A super cute tour of Valerie’s closet.

Cassanova’s NYC apartment. He was the spirit of the show this season. I wonder if anyone will step in to take his place.


  • Sandra:

    I KNOW, right? The hatred is as palpable as it is unreasonable. Also, kudos to Mondo; he’s kind of awesome.

  • Love, love, love Project Runway! I don’t understand the hatred either but I think that poop head Gretchen really helped fuel it in the team challenge. That’s why it was so flippin awesome when Tim called her out in front of everybody! Could be my favorite moment ever! If I had to work in a team I would most likely pick different kinds of people who brought different talents to the table. I loved Peach and Cassanova, but now they’re gone, and the show will lack for a little personality. Really, I think Mondo and Valerie are my favorites of who are left and hope to see them make it even further.

    • Rechelle:

      I think Valerie is the all around best pick in terms fo vision, talent and being a decent person, but Gretchen really does seem to have a finger on the pulse of something critical for that show.

  • Emily:

    I agree that Gretchen was behind a lot of the Costello-hate. She is a Leader, and the rest of them deferred to her entirely too much on the team challenge. It really was awesome when Tim called her out, because that is a little out of character for Tim.

    I think the rest of them felt like they had to carry Costello through the team challenge because of his weaker sewing skills, and that created some resentment. Especially considering that he had immunity. Once they formed that opinion, it’s hard to change it. Personally, I have basically no opinion about Michael Costello, but I’m not really sure he has the strength/creativity to push through to the end. Maybe he needs to bring out his inner bitch to go up against the rest.

    I would probably form a team based on friendship/personality because I don’t handle drama very well. That may or may not be a good way to form a team. I find Mondo very likable, and I sympathize with his shyness. I’m glad to see him coming out of his shell a bit.

    • Emily:

      Oh, also…I’m glad to see Casanova gone. I found him extrememly annoying and a little duplicitous.

  • Funny you should blog about this because I’ve been wondering the same thing. The only thing I can think of is Gretchen felt threatened by him and made sure to point out his weak spots to everyone and then gang mentality took over. If they pick on him, then nobody will pick on them. I think Michael seems sweet and he’s obviously talented. I was hoping that just one person would stand up for him and was so happy when Mondo realized that there was no reason to dislike Michael and became his friend. Says a lot for Mondo’s character, in my opinion, that he was able to admit he was wrong and leave himself vulnerable to the gang.
    Oh and the best line of this weeks show, by far, was Michael D saying he didn’t want to look like a “doo doo head.” That just cracked me up. Yeah, it doesn’t take much.

  • Gayl:

    This was a fun post. My son, husband, and I watch Project Runway , too. I think Mondo is my favorite. He was horrible to Michael Costello initially, then realized his mistake and came around beautifully. I am amazed that Michale Costello seems to hold absolutely no resentment to the group. Maybe that is why he is easy to pick on. I agree, I am not sure why they are all picking on him. Gretchen is awful, it’s her sense of superiority that is soo annoying. I love it when she is one of the bottom three, wish it would happen more often. Ivy ( I hope I got her name correct) is awful, too. I can’t believe she made it through the last round, and she blamed everything entirely on her partner. BTW- Tim Gunn’s book just came out. There was an interview with Tim in People magazine, sounds like a very sad childhood. He seems to have turned out to be a very nice man.

  • Erin:

    I love PR too — though my husband thinks it’s “an hour of my life I will never get back!” as he puts it every time he sees me watching it! My problem with it lately though is that the judges just seem a bit wacky in their decision making. I do like that they made it an hour and a half, we seem to be getting more of the design process and more critique time.

    If you haven’t seen them, Tim Gunn puts up a video blog after each episode where he gives some behind the scenes info and his thoughts on the episode. They are usually pretty good. I know he posts them on Facebook, though there’s probably somewhere else you can see them. Also, the former contestants’ blogs on the Lifetime PR website are good too, they usually can shed some light on how things work during the competition, I like to read those!

  • Little Apple:

    Peach was my favorite as a person.
    Really liked Andy, the Hawaiian’s design work so far. The swim suit and wrap was incredible on his model. Can’t understand why he didn’t win.
    Casanova got the shaft. True, it wasn’t great work but they kept knocking it as being something for a grandmother. Well, this grandmother didn’t think it was the worst thing out there.
    My picks to leave the show (but so far they haven’t) – Ivy and Gretchen.

  • Mindy:

    I love Project Runway! I’m a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl, but it’s fun to watch the process. I don’t agree with the judges half the time, but it’s still fun to watch.

    I think Ivy is very weak, design-wise. She seems to think she’s hot stuff, but her clothes just aren’t very interesting. Gretchen is such an uppity so-and-so. I find her designs boring and her taste in colors is dreadful.

    My favorite that is left is April. I’ve liked almost all of her stuff, besides the diaper outfit.

    I feel bad for Michael C. It would be hard to be in that sort of atmosphere with that much vitriol going around. I think the other contestants think he can’t sew because his process is homegrown (like the other Michael’s). He’s said that he doesn’t use patterns and whatnot, so it makes it hard to communicate what to do if he’s sewing someone else’s design. Obviously that’s no reason to hate the guy.

  • sandy:

    I starting watching Project Runway when I was in grad school. I have watched it every season since. This my take on why the other designers pick on Michael Costello. “These people are insecure little bullying shitheads.”

  • Shay:

    I agree with the comment that Casanova was duplicitous. Amazing how fast he lost his ability to speak English on the runway or while Tim was around.

    My take on the Michael C. hate is that the other designers somehow think of themselves as being more “legitimate” than he is, and therefore resent it when he proves to be more creative than they are. Ivy, in particular, is guilty of this. She’s had a big attitude about her abilities since the first moment of the show, and has done absolutely nothing to back it up. Except, of course, be Gretchen’s sycophant.

    Of the remaining designers, I like Mondo – I like his personality, and find his designs generally more interesting and innovative than those of the other designers. I want to like Valerie, but somehow I can’t get a good handle on her.

  • Michelle Z.:

    I don’t know how true this is, but I heard that some of the other designers looked down on Michael C because he didn’t go to design school. Then, when he won, they were really bent out of shape.

    • Rechelle:

      There does seem to be a group (Gretchen and Ivy) that has formed around the idea of being ‘professionally educated’ in design vs those that are self taught.

  • eclecticdeb:

    It’s also interesting to see how the group seems to have a misplaced sense of anger. Instead of being upset at Michael C for winning, they should be upset at themselves OR the judges. I wonder if they know what is going on in the stew room?

    I think Mondo is an impressive human being for coming around.

    Ivy is soooo annoying. She seems to think her Parson’s degree automatically gives her the right to be in the top 3.

  • Action Squirrel:

    Definitely jealousy. I can’t watch the show (it’s restricted overseas… because naturally NO Americans ever live outside America) but it’s a familiar story in creative circles: it’s too painful for many to acknowledge that success is ever legitimate, particularly in someone who is kind, modest and talented.

    He would probably have been more liked if he’d invented a personality flaw for himself or a sob story about his painful childhood that he had to rise above. I think people accept success in others more easily if there is an underdog factor OR a “well the judges just felt bad for him because his mother was a pygmey crack cocaine dealing quadruple amputee who beat him regularly with her wooden leg” thing going on.

    • Rechelle:

      Beat him with her wooden leg!?!?!?! Surely he could outrun her!

  • I LOVE PR!! I find Michael kind of annoying just b/c he won’t stand up for himself. I think he doesn’t believe he’s good enough so nobody else does either. I was giddy the night Tim called Gretchen out, I really can’t stand her or Ivy… they need to go. Right now I think Mondo has the best chance of winning.

    And this week… the best TIm Gunn line evah…
    “Jacqueline Kennedy would NEVER have camel toe.”
    hahahahaha! LOVE him!