How come someone as funny, unpredictable and uninhibited as Jay McCarroll only gets a one-hour special while the zombie humanoid clones of The Bachelor get hours and hours of airtime? Why does the incoherent train wreck that is Flavor Flav get an entire season of Flavor of Love while the wisecracking, creative McCarroll barely gets one episode?
McCarroll, the winner of the first season of Project Runway, is the subject of Bravo’s Project Jay. The cameras follow this country boy from a small, rural town in Pennsylvania as he deals with fame, moving to New York City, and putting together his first professional collection.
Unfortunately, as he puts it, he’s broke. It doesn’t help that he turned down Runway‘s $100,000 prize money in hopes of signing an exclusive licensing deal with an undetermined company.
But who needs money when you’re so full of witty one-liners? On watching himself on TV: “I have the world’s smallest mouth. No wonder why I can’t get laid, because they’re like ‘that mouth is so small.’”
On his financial woes: “I just pray that I get money from somewhere even if I have to, like, sell my sperm…or hook.”
On his self-image: “If I was born hot: a) I would’ve been dead of AIDS by now. And b) I would’ve just been so dumb, like those dumb hot people I’m so jealous of. Why am I so jealous of them?”
It’s too bad he doesn’t get more airtime because he always seems to have a lot going on in his life. Much of the episode is Jay scrambling to finish an Emmy dress requested by Runway‘s host, Heidi Klum, only to have her reject it at the last minute. Plus, a nagging back problem results in full-out surgery. Thankfully, there’s also time devoted to his creative process, where we learn how a friend’s mix tape can influence a whole collection or how he can spend six straight hours designing without even getting up to pee. As he puts it, “If you have passion, you should probably take advantage of it.”
The show also slyly reveals the incestuous nature of reality TV, as Jay gets his haircut from one of the stylists on Bravo’s own Blow Out and runs into previous Runway contestants Austin Scarlett, Kara Saun and – gasp! – Wendy Pepper (season one’s scheming villain).
I’ve been a fan of both seasons of Project Runway, and I’ve always admired Jay’s work. It’s colorful, funky and sometimes even glamorous, all from a rebellious outsider’s point of view. I understand how he’s a controversial figure, as he tends to bitch about things that don’t go his way. But most of the time, he’s a funny, talented, even charming guy.
Plus, how can you not root for someone who can be self-depracating, sarcastic, and arrogant all in one delicious sound-byte such as “physically, I hate myself. Mentally, I’m gorgeous”?