Top Design
Life Of The Party

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Mr. Sobell: C- | Grade It Now!
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It's My Party, And I'll Cry If I Want To

Previously, on Inside the Top Designer's Studio: The Top Designers were ordered to clean out the garage of some rich weirdos so that they could park their new car inside. Each Top Designer picked a carpenter with whom they will be working for the duration of the program. Carisa was accused of slackitude. Ryan was relieved of his Top Designery duties. And, in a related story, paint dried. That leaves us with six -- count 'em, six! -- people vying for the coveted honor of Top Designer and the magazine profile, car, and cold, hard cash that goes with it. Let's meet them, courtesy of a hastily assembled theme song.

Top Designers, roll call! Fired! Goil! Carisa! Fired! Fired! Matt! Andrea! Fired! Fired! Michael! Erik! Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired! In competitive reality show programs, the people are entertained by two separate yet equally important groups -- the interior designers who participate in silly challenges and the judges who arbitrarily assess them. Bong bong!

We begin this week, as we begin so many others -- with the Top Designers strolling toward the Pacific Design Center, or as it's known in the Sobell Household, the Place Where Entertainment Goes to Die. Speaking of unentertaining ways to spend your time, let's listen to Carisa, as she lays her very deep thoughts upon us all: "When I do any project, I half-expect to ruin it." Well, we have that much in common, at least. "At the end, I always say, 'Wow, how did I rock that out?'" I'm going to go with a potent mix of diminished expectations and self-delusion -- it's the same recipe I used for dating during the early to mid-90s. But enough good-natured ribbing at Carisa's expense -- we've got a show to get to. And as if on cue, Todd Oldham is waiting for them near a fountain in the Pacific Design Center's courtyard to outline this week's challenge: design a party for Bacardi Limón . So, we're going with a rum-based theme this week -- that'll fit in nicely with what I'm drinking to endure this episode, so that's nice. The party, which Todd quickly adds is hosted by Top Design co-sponsor Elle Décor, will be held in the Pacific Design Center Plaza. "This is the exact place where Elton John hosts his annual Oscar bash," Todd says, "so you're starting out on sacred ground." I think we all remember the 2002 Oscar bash, where Elton John died for our sins. Or as punishment for writing Nikita.

But our happiness with rum-soaked challenges is short-lived, as we learn that this particular installment will be a team-based challenge. Why, for the love of God, why? We are here to suss out who the best designer of the bunch is, are we not? The best way to do that would be to put them to the test individually, wouldn't you think? So then, why keep throwing the contestants into inconclusive group challenges, since the only thing it seems to do is foster interpersonal clashes and internecine conflict? I just answered my own question, didn't I? I believe Matt has the most relevant observation about this turn of events: "These group challenges, I am completely over, because you have to deal with a bunch of crazies on your team." Preach on, my brother. The Top Designers pick a paint chip -- man, there ain't nothing more compelling than watching people get grouped together by random chance and color-coordination -- and break off into teams of three. It'll be Michael, Carisa and Matt taking on Goil, Andrea and Erik in Battle: Party Planner. Carisa, still feeling the sting from last week's episode of The Boy Who Cried Slacker: The Michael Adams Story, is displeased that the fickle finger of fate has pushed her into this set-up: "Michael is really difficult to work with. No matter what you do, he is going to complain very loudly about something." Michael is not afforded a rebuttal, but if he were, I imagine there would be much talk of slacking and squirrel urine. Goil is much happier with his assignment: "Since I got here, the one person I wanted to work with is Andrea. She's a better model of me. I'd be R2D2. She'd be R2D345." Perhaps an Ewoks-to-Wookies metaphor would have been more evocative.

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