A wide spectrum of bitchiness — the withering kind, the endearing kind and the kind that is coldly professional — was on display during Bravo’s second-season reunion episode of Project Runway and the one-off special about Runway’s previous winner called Project Jay. On the Runway reunion, the latest crop of design contestants got their wounded feelings about flamboyantly caustic giraffe-man Santino into the open, although it appears — thanks to extra footage — that his absurdist wit, wicked impersonations and impromptu musical performances provided more than enough entertainment value to the others during those tedious sewing/shaping/cutting hours. Then on Project Jay, which chronicled the months following babushka-sporting Pennsylvanian Jay McCarroll’s Runway win, we got an unexpectedly warm portrait of wiseass humor as a defense mechanism. Each hilariously flippant barb of McCarroll — usually about his many neuroses, from weight to career plans — played like biting into a bitter chocolate only to find something unexpectedly sweet inside.
Then, when the high drama of the hour — McCarroll’s commission to design an Emmy dress for Runway host/producer Heidi Klum — ended ignominiously with a last-minute call that another designer was being chosen, the sting of the show-biz brushoff made the insult humor of both specials seem tame by comparison. When Heidi called Jay to wanly apologize and remind him he’s got a show of his own collection to look forward to, Jay said, “You’ll be there,” with such heartbreaking diplomacy you could barely sense if it was a statement or a question. Then came the interminable pause on the other end of the line.