I’ve made no secret of my love of good reality TV show contests — I’ve eagerly binged recent seasons of Project Runway, Top Chef and The Great British Bake Off (Yes, I know it’s officially Baking Show here in the US, but no-one really calls it that, do they?), and even became temporarily addicted to the UK version of Love Island in a bout of madness — so I feel pretty confident in reporting that Amazon’s recent venture into the genre, Making The Cut, is… not a good reality TV show. That said, it might the most Amazon reality TV show imaginable.
There are a number of reasons why Making The Cut doesn’t work. On the most basic level, there’s the simple fact that it doesn’t actually spend enough time or energy humanizing the contestants, who instead get to spout some generic, faux inspiring lines about their struggle each episode that don’t really connect with what they’re actually working on — which, in a sad way, makes sense, given how little attention is actually paid to what the contestants are actually doing in each round.
Each episode, the contestants have to design and kinda make two outfits — a Runway Look and another that can be sold on Amazon, because it’s a show where shifting product is the immovable focus. But, aside from vague comments about inspiration and footage of designers frowning in the workshop, the actual process of getting to the final outfits is missing, which feels like a real mistake. It’s one made intentionally, though; the show’s format centers around the designers handing unfinished clothes off to unseen “seamstresses” at the end of each day, and picking up the results the next morning. That’s why I said “kinda make,” above — it’s actually the work of nameless, faceless workers, because Amazon is entirely utterly lacking in self awareness about concerns over its labor practices.
The true focus of the series is capitalism — there’s repeated discussions around the words “global brand,” and contestants aren’t graded on their aesthetics or individual skills, but how they promote their brand and how sellable their work is. The soundtrack of the show is generic, but lyrically focused on wealth and success, and the much-ballyhooed globe-trotting aspect — they’re in Paris! They’re in Tokyo! They’re in New York! — meaningless in any sense beyond offering tourist backdrops and lip-service to finding a global market.
The more you watch the show, the more obvious it is how gross it is; how disinterested it is in anything beyond promotion of a new Amazon product line and Amazon in general, no matter what. (While Heidi Klum had little credibility before this, I do feel the show humiliates Tim Gunn as he gets pulled into this promotional mess.) I watched the whole thing, utterly fascinated by the spectacle eating itself and how ultimately boring it turned out to be. Which, I guess, makes me the problem, doesn’t it?