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"Shear Genius": So Much Better Than I Expected

"Shear Genius": So Much Better Than I Expected

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty wary about Bravo's haircutting competition show, "Shear Genius." Oh, how times have changed. Somehow, I've become a huge fan — possibly the show's biggest fan, given some of the other reviews I've read.

"Shear Genius" is still no "Project Runway," and not just because it lacks Tim Gunn. But it's the most over-the-top of the Bravo competition shows to date, and that alone is a reason to watch. Here are five more:

  • Jaclyn Smith's voice. OK, so at first her weird, robotic monotone really got to me, but by the end of last week's episode, I was oddly entranced by it. While she talks, I try to figure out what could be making those noises — because guys, seriously, it's not a person. Is it that weird garbling machine they use to disguise people's voices during interviews on "Dateline"? The robot who records the "no-one-is-here-to-take-your-call" messages on answering machines? An invisible alien baby? Whatever it is, it's fascinating.
  • The challenges. Simply put, they're ridiculous. In the first episode, the stylists had to incorporate stuff they bought at a craft store into their hairdos, and the winning look involved a treasure chest plopped on a model's head. In tonight's episode, the stylists have to give a long-haired woman a short 'do — using hedge clippers, pinking shears and those wavy-edged scissors people use for scrapbooking. A few more I hope to see: an updo that uses fruits and vegetables; extensions done with ribbon, lace and yarn instead of hair; and something — anything — involving live animals.

Three more reasons — and a clip from tonight's episode — so

  • The pacing. After the plodding, drawn out dullness of "Top Design," "Shear Genius" moves refreshingly fast. The producers squeeze not one but two challenges into every episode, and the judging fits nicely into the final 15 minutes rather than taking a full half-hour the way it did on "Top Design." Plus, the producers have put a big digital clock right in the stylists' workroom, so we can watch the time tick away for ourselves.
  • Dr. Boogie. The name says it all, right? I've seen some arrogant reality TV contestants in my day, but Dr. Boogie might top them all. I love his penchant for wearing scrubs and his wild exaggerations ("Who is the best stylist working today?" "Dr. Boogie."). And talking about him means I get to say "boogie" a lot.
  • The potential for disaster. Who hasn't been driven to tears by a bad haircut? When most people sign up to be models for a reality show, I doubt they expect to end up looking like a Thanksgiving centerpiece or a model of the solar system. Someone is going to end up with blue hair. Someone is going to get a horrid chop that will take months to grow out. Someone is going to cry. And while that might be a morbid reason to watch a TV show, it's certainly got me glued.

Here's a video of the moment when the stylists learn they'll have to use the hedge clippers. I can't wait!

Photo courtesy of Bravo

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