Friday, October 17, 2008
A Half-Hearted Defense of Kenley
I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I’m going to (kinda, tepidly) defend Kenley Collins, the FSU alum and villainess of “Project Runway’s” just-wrapped season. If you watched the show, you know that retro-loving Kenley often came off as a defensive, self-absorbed brat — this, on a show full of them. She also committed the sin of being snippy and rude to adorable mentor Tim Gunn.
The judges got it absolutely right by naming mild-mannered Leanne Marshall the winner. Even though I was pulling for Korto Momolu (and would wear her clothes), Leanne’s petal-inspired collection was simply sublime. It’s nice to see a wallflower win!
Back to Kenley. Was she immature and a little too impressed with herself? Yes. But she wasn’t nearly as off-putting as Hall of Fame asshats Santino Rice (Season 2) and Jeffrey Sebelia (Season 3). Jeffrey made someone’s mother cry, and unlike Santino, he was humor-impaired. Kenley is Miss Congeniality by comparison.
What little sympathy I have for Kenley stems from her apparent social cluelessness. She often seemed genuinely perplexed by the criticism she received from the judges and her fellow designers. It was obvious to everyone that she was disrespectful to Tim, but she really didn’t get what all the fuss was about. She made this comment to Entertainment Weekly: “I stood up to the judges and Tim, but that wasn't against them. I was shocked by the way they treated me, because I was nothing but nice to them.”
That attitude made me think of my son. Granted, he’s 8 years old and (generally) polite to people he doesn’t know well. But when he becomes annoyed, he has a habit of blurting out things that, while perhaps true, are inappropriate and combative. And then when he’s reprimanded, he’s like, “What’d I do?” It’s gotten better in the last two years, but his understanding of the nuances of social interaction is a work in progress. This is one reason we’ve long thought he might be at the mild end of the autism spectrum, but that’s a whole other issue.
Kenley attributes her issues to “aggressive, New York kind of upfront, forward behavior.” She was raised in Pompano Beach. Still, I think of her not as the popular mean girl but the intense attention hog other kids whisper about in the hallway.
Or maybe she really is just a pouty jerk (albeit a talented one). I guess motherhood has made me soft.