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All I Really Need to Know I Learned From 'Project
Life lessons amidst the jersey knits
By Martha Brockenbrough Special to MSN TV
Remember that poem "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" by
Robert Fulghum? Two decades later, it remains the sole piece of English
literature that makes toilet-flushing seem like a deep and mystical act.
Still, the poem could use an update. Now that we're firmly in the reality TV
era, I'm going to make the argument that all I really need to know I learned on
To do this, I've enlisted the help of Fulghum's former art students, Jack
Mackenroth, the HIV-positive hottie from Season 4 of the show.
(Disclosure: Jack and I went to the same high school and spent lots of time
in the swimming pool and art studio together. He was as awesome then as he is
now, although I'd wager he spends less on hair bleach these days.)
"Project Runway" is on the cusp of its 10th season. There have been ups and
downs over the years, but it remains a remarkable piece of programming.
Part of the magic of this show is what the designers produce.
Whether they're working with improbable materials like birdseed, coffee
filters or Twizzlers, or making avant garde creations from organza, the
designers demonstrate great creativity and skill as they race the clock.
Granted, the designers don't always make it work. But if you've never been
inside of Mood -- which is a daunting catacomb of fabric, buttons, zippers,
ribbons and thread -- you can't imagine navigating those aisles in just 30
minutes with limited funds. And forget doing that for challenge after challenge
while you're bumping elbows with competitors, all on camera, all on not enough
The rest of the magic comes from what the show reveals about human weakness
and its price. Whatever the bad behavior, the toll is magnified on the screen.
Are you excited for the new season of "Project Runway"? Tell
us at MSN TV on Facebook and Twitter.
So what valuable life lessons can you learn from "Project Runway"? Here are
10. The first five are Jack's, along with commentary from me, and the last
Don't talk smack about others.
This only makes you look bad, Jack says. During his season, Ricky and
Victorya got into a fight, which cost them support. "Fans don't pick sides,"
Jack says. "They just dislike bitchiness."
This is true wherever you are. No one likes a nasty gossip.
Keep calm and carry on.
Remember in Season 9 when contestant Anya Ayoung-Chee lost her money? Thanks
to the generosity of other designers, she managed to scrape together a meager
$12 -- and she eventually won the challenge. In all likelihood, the judges
picked her two designs over the others because she kept it together despite that
The lesson: At one point or another, life punches everyone in the gut. You
can choose to lie down and cry.