Bravo’s Project Runway knock-off The Fashion Show debuts tonight

Bravo’s shameless attempt to duplicate Project Runway debuts tonight at 10 p.m. ET. as the network sticks out its tongue by beating Lifetime’s Runway debut by more than three months.

In fairness, The Fashion Show is a completely different show. Just look at all the differences: On each episode, the 15 contestants will participate in two rapid clothes-making challenges, the second of which involves walking models down a catwalk and being judged by a panel of industry experts. The show is sponsored by TRESemmé, which will style the models. Isaac Mizrahi and Kelly Rowland take over for Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum, although technically there’s no mentor on this show, and they’ll also judge alongside Fern Mallis, who judged sometimes on Project Runway. The winner gets $125,000, not $100,000.

Maybe they could have at least tried to make it seem like a different show? The actual differences include a studio audience for the fashion shows, and the fact that the final winner will be selected by viewers. Also, the series is produced by 3 Ball Productions, the producers of The Biggest Loser and Groomer Has It.

Critics pretty much agree that it’s a knock-off, although there are varying degrees of appreciation for the new series: “lingering spite infects the mood of its knockoff” that’s “a huffy, I’ll-show-you response to ‘Project Runway'” (The New York Times), “as near a knock-off of ‘Runway’ as Bravo could dare without paying the lawyers again” (The Los Angeles Times), “an attempt, no matter how awkwardly executed, to do everything bigger and bolder than ‘Runway’ (The Boston Herald).

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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.