REVIEW: ‘Mad Fashion’ excruciating

Bravo sends me every screener they can. I mean every one. Not only series and season premieres, but sometimes individual midseason episodes of their gayish shows. (I got a screener of the second season of Work of Art in my DVD player right now.)

So why, I wondered, did I have to learn about the new series Mad Fashion from on-air promos? Why no press releases, no screeners? Why did I have to watch it on debut night like everyone else?

Now I understand: Mad Fashion is mad bad.

In the unending trend of all reality TV shows including at least one former reality star among its cast or guest judges, Mad Fashion stars former Project Runway designer Chris March. March, pictured, was a fan favorite, a zaftig, lisping teddy bear with a drag queen’s sensibility whose droll, heavy-lidded pronouncements of fashion and outrageous designed seemed destined to grab attention if not praise from the judges. March is the star of this new half-hour show, wherein he and his crew (he spends most of the first episode, which premiered Tuesday night, introducing them it seemed) come up with tacky takes on haute couture to their horrified but equally delighted clients.

March was a hoot on Project Runway, but here, he seems catatonic and distracted, walking through the reality TV cliches (direct addresses to the camera, coyly sowing (sewing?) controversy among his staff and clients, etc., all while sounding like the bastard child of South Park‘s Mr. Slave and Roseanne Barr.

Everyone knows all reality TV is scripted, but the ability to make it feel improvised is what sets the good apart from the bad. March doesn’t possess that skill, so nearly every scene feels excruciatingly posed. Mercifully, the series forces us to endure its fake grotesqueries in only 30-minute increments. I suspect we won’t have many of those either. If Bravo doesn’t wanna preview this uber-gay fashion series to the gay press … well, that tells you something.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Roseanne as SLC gay Pride grand marshal

Roseanne Barr-slash-Arnold-slash-nothing has been pretty upfront about her personal history, being abused while growing up in conservative Salt Lake City. She’s certainly been a pioneer for gay issues over her long career, from her Roseanne sitcom, where she routinely featured gay characters and had a famous prime-time same-sex kiss with Mariel Hemingway. (Sara Gilbert, who recently announced her split from her partner, was one of the stars of the show before coming out.)

On the next episode of her new show, the reality-based quirkcom Roseanne’s Nuts, Roseanne returns to SLC to serve as grand marshal of the city’s gay Pride parade, stoking the flames of the attendees with her fiery rants about equality and revisiting old memories.

The episode, called “Homecoming Parade,” airs Friday at 9 p.m. on Lifetime, with replays throughout the week.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones