The Challenge Project Runway Was Afraid To Give To Teens

This season, Project Runway has actually signed on teens to try their hand at high-end fashion. It can be tricky to work with a new age demographic and it doesn't help that over the years Project Runway has created a reputation for producing a few challenges that are difficult for contestants. Recently, Tim Gunn revealed there was one challenge that Lifetime was very concerned about giving to the new teenaged contestants, as the network thought it would be too difficult. As it turns out, the challenge that was the big problem was the unconventional materials challenge. Here’s what Gunn had to say:

Lifetime, I will tell you, was very worried about having any unconventional materials challenge for these teens — let alone having it be Episode 2. Sarah Rea, who’s the showrunner and exec producer, she and I just said they’re fearless and they’re uncompromising. Have no apprehensions about it; they’re fantastic.

Although the team had to fight to include the iconic challenge, eventually Lifetime agreed to let it happen on the small screen. It’s a good thing, too, as Gunn notes that the challenge ended up being “fantastic.” He told Variety it worked out precisely because Project Runway didn’t dumb down the challenge for the younger contestants.

I find that whenever anyone tries to dumb anything down because of concerns that it’ll be too far out of reach, that just doesn’t work. I learned this while teaching. You need people to grasp their capabilities and then they’ll stretch and reach any further.

Teens might emotionally be dealing with synaptic pruning and a lot of other things that happen during puberty, but in a lot of ways they are equally as capable as adults. They’re creative, they’re innovative and they have a different viewpoint than a lot of the contestants on Project Runway have had in the past, thanks to coming from different generations and having different life experiences. You can take a look at a quick shot of the upcoming unconventional challenge, below.

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Obviously, the new season of Project Runway, subtitled Junior, doesn’t hit the schedule until tonight and we won’t see the unconventional challenge hit the small screen until Episode 2. However, it should be interesting to see what the teenaged contestants bring to the table, especially when they are given tough materials to work with. After all, hard challenges and tensions on the set have certainly broken some adults in the past.

But I’m happy to see the show will be as tough on the new contestants as they have been in the past. Now, we’ll just have to wait and see if they get stuck with the real women challenge and other difficult concepts. Bring on the button bag.

Project Runway: Junior hits the schedule tonight at 9 p.m. ET, only on Lifetime.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.