Handicapping The Project Runway Final Five

The sixth season of Project Runway, and the first season for the show on Lifetime, is rapidly drawing to a close. While Lifetime hasn't ruined Runway as many had feared, this is not going to go down as a stellar season. With production moved to Los Angeles for no particular reason, the show has missed regular contributions from its New York-based judges Nina Garcia and Michael Kors (though a few of the guest judges have filled in nicely).

But the biggest problem has been a lackluster cast, and since this is the second straight season where starpower among the designers has been an issue, one has to wonder if we've nearly exhausted all the undiscovered designing talent in America. Plus, there's not even an epic villain like Season Five's Kenley.

Still, someone is going to win. Now that we've reached the final five, we can make some educated guesses regarding who will finish in what position. In alphabetical order:

Althea: And here's a big part of the problem with this season right here. Althea is quite good and has looked like a potential finalist since early in the season, but it seems we still know very little about her. It wasn't until last week, when she brought out her claws and was in turn criticized by Irina during the judging that we finally got a little glimpse of personality. It wasn't an attractive glimpse, but we'll take what we can. And it has to be said that after all the criticism, she ended up winning last week, and it wasn't for the first time either. It would be a major surprise for her to be knocked out at this stage after being safe all year long, but given that the producers have now introduced the theme of Althea possibly piggybacking on an Irina design, it would look strange now if she actually beat Irina. But it would be nice if someone from distinctly unfashionable Dayton, Ohio took home the big prize. Prediction: Second.

Carol Hannah: The Goldie Hawn of Project Runway is a breath of fresh air on a show that often seems to celebrate rote bitchiness and drama queens. She comes across as a normal and uncomplicated young woman (to the point where she seems to have uncombed hair most of the time), and her designs have been invariably solid. Until the last episode when Althea griped that Carol Hannah is too one-note, no one had said anything bad about her. But this lack of edge tends to argue against her as a potential winner. The closest thing she's had to a storyline is her sort-of crush on Logan, which is pretty small potatoes dramatically. And while she's avoided disaster, she also hasn't done much that is memorable in a positive way. It wasn't until it became almost mathematically impossible to do otherwise that she finally appeared in either the top three or bottom three, a sign that the powers that be really don't see her as someone who can win. Prediction: Third.

Christopher: How can you tell this has been a weaker than usual season of Project Runway? The fact that Christopher is still around despite a run of suckiness that is likely unprecedented. It's not a result of producer manipulation, either: as bad as he has been, there has always been someone every week clearly or at least arguably even worse. But his luck has just about run out, since the only ones left now are the three women who have dominated the season and Gordana, who is more erratic but still superior to Christopher. However, he did show a little promise earlier in the season, even winning the very first challenge, and maybe he can re-awaken that skill one last time. While by all rights he ought to be the next one to go, I think his penchant for the over-the-top disaster actually works in his favor when compared with Gordana, who is often simply boring. Plus, he's the last male designer, and I doubt the producers want it to be all-woman until it can no longer be avoided. Prediction: Fourth.

Gordana: My original thinking with this one was "cannon fodder." Old for a Project Runway contestant at 44, she has been repeatedly condescended to by Heidi Klum and the other judges, and treated like a dotty aunt by her fellow designers. She likes to work in muted colors that don't pop off the TV screen, and has about as little fashion daring as anyone you will ever see on the show. But she's still hanging around and even won one of the recent challenges, so she needs to be taken seriously. I think it would be a fantastic story for someone like Gordana who has been struggling in the bush leagues to show off her goods at Bryant Park, a great Cinderella moment. But for the reasons I gave in the Christopher paragraph, and because she simply doesn't quite have the talent of the other three women, I think she's going to fall just short. Prediction: Fifth.

Irina: It has been a mostly colorless season on the runway, but Irina has done her best to perk things up, with her continual stream of negativity and backstabbing remarks. She hates everyone else, the others are aware of it and hate her right back, but it's not really connecting with viewers. Christian Siriano was also catty in the extreme, but one never got the sense there was any malice there, which has not been the case with Irina. Also, Christian had such awesome skill that you had to cut him some genius slack. Irina does appear to be the most talented designer left, and by a margin almost as big as what Christian enjoyed in Season Four. But she's not that good; it's more a case of her prevailing over a mediocre field. She's a lock for Bryant Park at least, so hopefully we'll see her humanized a bit in the final weeks. It's not necessary to have a cuddly Project Runway winner, but it's always nice. Prediction: First.