The following post contains Project Runway season 10 spoilers.
What a bad week for Ven Budhu.
It’s been clear from the start that he’s one of season 10′s strongest contenders – great design skills, wonderful construction, lovely taste. His flat affect and his open disregard for his competitors hasn’t really won as many fans as some of the others, but his skills are formidable.
But this week he really stepped in it. Not only was he shown to be a callous ass to a “real woman” (as he put it) but his Twitter feed after this Thursday’s show demonstrates an appalling lack of PR skills, not to mention an atrocious use of social media.
In this week’s “makeover” challenge, designers were told to create outfits for non-models, complete with new hairdo and makeup. There’s one of these types of challenges almost every season, and they’re always a fan favorite. Some designers, like Gunnar Deatherage, embraced the challenge and really enjoyed it. Others, like Ven, clearly hated it from the start.
Ven’s dislike for the challenge boiled over to open contempt for his client. He called her “plus-sized” at size 14 (“right on the cusp,” corrected Tim Gunn), suggesting that she had no sense of style, and even insulting her age (40, he thought, although she’s only in her mid-30s).
His garment was awful, his construction was not up to par, his color choice for her complexion and hair color were atrocious, but none of this mattered: To hear Ven explain it in the footage shown, he felt he had been unfairly handicapped with an ugly, fat woman with no style or taste.
He didn’t say this to her, but his callousness and snipes like telling her “black was slimming” had his client in tears. What’s worse, her friend who advocated for her to be on the show was in tears. Ven’s fellow contestants looked appalled by what he was saying. And the judges made their displeasure clear by keeping him after this week’s loser was eliminated, letting Ven sweat it out and think that he, too, may have been on the chopping block.
It was nauseatingly egotistical and truly vile. And while I suspect Project Runway’s producers edited Ven’s interview and his comments in the workroom to raise dramatic attention and make him even more abrasive, I don’t think they had to work that hard. After all, even after the runway drama in which Ven was kept aside for a stern rebuke by the judges, he insisted that his design wasn’t one of the three worst (it absolutely was).
But this isn’t the worst of it. Starting on Thursday night, Ven Budhu’s Twitter feed lit up with comments he posted during the episode, accusing the producers of not really randomly assigning clients to designers, then defending his cruel comments by saying “the truth hurts sometimes.” He also said that it wasn’t his fault her belts didn’t fit (though he should have known her measurements full well before he fitted her for accessories), and more. Even when he compliments her, he does it backhandedly (“She was pretty but difficult shape to work with.”)
Really, I’m left wondering after this episode why anyone would want to work with Ven Budhu. He just seems like a douchebag.
Terri Herlihy, his client in this episode, wasted no time in countering Ven’s Twitter whining. Her account, created a week ago, quickly filled up with rebukes to Ven’s comments on the show and on Twitter, including this: “You didn’t give a shit about my life & why I was there. You can’t hack it.”
Which was pretty much what Budhu was told by Terri’s friend and the judges, too.
If you check Twitter for mentions of @venbudhu, you’ll find scores of angry, bitter comments from viewers of the show who were disgusted by his comments and his tweets, too. Very few of them are actually sympathetic.
All Budhu had to do at the outset was a short, contrite, genuine apology. Something to the effect of, “I realize in retrospect how hurtful my comments to Terri were, I apologize and wish I had done better.” He undoubtedly still would have gotten some angry comments from other Twitter users, but it would have blown over quickly. Now it’s clear that the worm has turned and Ven is no longer a fan favorite.
How that will effect the judges over the long term remains to be seen. They’ve let some designers with really loathsome personalities win in years past, so Ven’s execrable behavior may not matter for them in the long term.
I, for one, will be very disappointed if he wins.