Thursday, September 22, 2011

2.4: Redemption Song

Paul:  Lingerie was upstaged by personal drama and a rather remarkable character arch.  I imagine somewhere in the remaining seven seasons we will have occasion to talk more in depth on the topic of lingerie.

Daniel Franco was in the first episode of Season One.  We were guided to dislike him immensely and did not give him another moment's thought after he'd gone.  I even forgot his name.  He danced around, he seemed arrogant, he dismissed Tim Gunn when he was trying to give Daniel advice (the only thing I remember about him in that first episode.  You just don't do that!), he talked about following your bliss.

Laurie:   I remember him from his brief appearance in Season One much more vividly than you do.  He was the picture of self-esteem run amock.  "Arrogant" doesn't quite do the trick. He gave every impression of having had a mother who played Tony Robbins tapes under his pillow while he slept - for his entire childhood. He believed in himself in that peculiar way of a child who has never experienced anything but praise - ever.  He was beyond annoying and on to infuriating.

Paul:  That seems to have been my impression as well.

The second season opened with the auditions which included Daniel Franco.  Everyone was amazed to see him walk through the door.  Daniel made the case that he felt he wasn't given a fair chance.  Tim Gunn extended grace.

This season we have observed a very different Daniel Franco from the one we were shown for a few moments in Season One.  He was humble, he worked hard, and eventually he sacrificed his own place on the show for his lingerie team members who he could just as well have sold up river.

Laurie:   Perhaps I should interject some detail here. Our designers were first given the challenge of sketching up a lingerie concept to pitch to resident famous-lingerie-model and host Heidi Klum.  Ms. Klum chose her favorite four concepts.  The designers were then divided up into four groups for a dreaded "team challenge".  (These seldom fare well.)  Each team was to work together under the leadership of the designer to execute his concept. There would be three people on each team. The entire losing team would be "out" - as in off the show. High stakes that one would hope would produce high motivation and cooperation.

Paul:  Instead, we have another instance of "teams" which devolve into a runway show of clashing egos.  I would especially note Santino's characteristically high concept lingerie which seems to be a theme of some form of a Germanic.  I seem to remember Heidi being called upon to choose the lingerie concepts and the scene being awkwardly Oedipal as the third trimester supermodel gives her opinion of "sexy" designs.  [Laurie: Yes, we've somehow managed to get this far into the season without even mentioning that Host Heidi Klum is profoundly pregnant throughout. Oh, and Santino's original sketches actually showed one pair of undies with the words "auf wiedersehen" stitched across the rear end]  Paul: In my final word about the actual content of the design challenge, I think that there was nothing resembling marketable in the designs.  All of the designers over-thought and put their concepts on a high shelf.  It was a bit like having a neighborhood proletarian beer bar, trying to introduce some food, and deciding to hire a molecular gastronomist as your chef.

An immodest example
But back to Daniel Franco.  This season we have watched him prove his ability as a designer, but we have also watched him prove one of the best behaved contestant on the show (with the exception of Emmett whose whole character on the show can be summed up as "well behaved.")  In this, his final episode, his team turns on him like a pack of cornered and wounded raccoons.  On the runway, he decides that as a leader he should be prepared to take responsibility for his product and the judges as happy to oblige him EVEN THOUGH HE DID NOT DESIGN THE LINGERIE IN THE PICTURE ABOVE!  

Laurie:  Well I would differ with you on one point.  I thought our other Daniel, Daniel Vosovic, who was the winner of this challenge did manage to come up with some marketable looks. He chose the theme "Revenge", as in dressing in your cheating lover's clothes to seduce your next lover, (Okay, it's lingerie. Not the stuff of high-morality.) and created a sleek, modern, and wearable look.

Now back to Daniel Franco.  His designs were a bit dowdy, with the same black lace ruffling every which-where and rearranged in three different shapes. Ho hum. Yet in this episode Daniel F. managed to make a more profound impression on the Mathers' household than a whole parade of near-naked ladies.

Daniel Franco was a changed man.  The transformation in his character from his first appearance on the series until this one could not have been more complete.  Throughout this challenge his teammates were catty and cutthroat.  Throughout the challenge, Daniel treated them with respect and good humor. During the final judging, as Paul already alluded to, they threw him to the wolves, taking no credit whatsoever for their own lack of cooperation in the work.   Daniel responded by accepting full responsibility and stating that he would not let his teammates take the fall.  His teammates, Chloe in particular, who had been his most vocal detractor throughout, was in tears - shamed by his kindness.  But in that way that true kindness has, she was shamed not into hard cynicism, but into humble, loving admiration. Daniel had overcome evil with good. My eyes still well up at the memory.

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