'Project Runway' Grows New Curves In Its 16th Season

Long-running competition shows often add rule changes or other tweaks to keep viewers coming back. Project Runway decided to change the very bodies its designers make clothes for.
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn pose with some of the models working in the 16th season of Lifetime's Project Runway. Source: Barbara Nitke

The hidden immunity idol. The U-Turn. The Golden Power Of Veto. Last Chance Kitchen. These phrases may not mean much to you, but to viewers of long-running reality franchises (specifically Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother and Top Chef), they reflect a basic tenet of competition shows: now and then, you have to throw your competitors a ... curve.

The history of these twists is mixed at best. Very often, they overcomplicate what was originally, believe it or not, devilishly simple. , for example,wound up with so many idols and advantages and immunities in play at one point this season that there was no vote: only one person was even eligible to go home. It's like a hockeywas originally a show with little focus on personal animus, because there wasn't much to with it, but once it became possible to stab people in the back (or the front), the motives to do so became a much bigger part of the storytelling. And ... well, there's never any real point to analyzing , unless you like sobbing or abject despair.

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