Chris March emerged as an early fan favorite right from the very first episode as we watched him huff and puff his way across Bryant Park. His affable nature, easy style and sense of humor have helped offset what has turned out be a very serious season of Project Runway. So it was no big surprise when most cheered his unexpected return in Episode 5. But now after the dust has settled we can't help but to ask - was it fair?
The producers had any number of options available to them when Jack fell ill, but to bring back Chris unconditionally was not only unprecedented, it was the least fair decision to the other designers. This wasn't a gimmicky move like bringing back Vincent and Angela in S3, who were required to win in order to keep going. He was eliminated fair and square in the "Trendsetter" challenge and given a free pass. We doubt any of the other designers will receive the same privilege.
Others have raised their eyebrows at this development as well. Here's BPR fave "riddiculus" at schnaufblog: I found it beyond tasteless that the producers didn't seem to waste an hour between saying goodbye to the sick guy and bringing back the happy-go-lucky guy. The King is dead. Long live the King. Also, if you want to do something tasteless, just go ahead and do it, don't try to justify it with crummy logic such as "We wanted to keep the level of competition high". That level doesn't exactly increase if you replace someone who has made it to round four with someone who didn't.
Jack Mackenroth didn't seem exactly thrilled about it, either. When asked about it by OutzoneTV.com he said: I don’t like to badmouth other contestants because that’s just not my style. I understand why they did it, they had to fill a spot and he was the last one off. I don’t really think it’s fair. That’s all.
We understand that Project Runway is ultimately a game. But what has always set it apart from other reality competitions is its level of integrity and focus on the creative process. As much as we love Chris, bringing him back feels like a stunt and to make it to the finals, the remaining designers are going to have to beat him twice. It's a questionable call by the producers of the show we all love.