Under the Gunn

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Under the Gunn TV Poster Image
Runway spin-off is more of the same for fashionistas.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Celebrates hard work, determination, talent, but also competition. Some of the entertainment value comes from the contestants criticizing each other.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Gunn himself is a kindly, respectful, if sometimes blunt mentor. The designers and mentors are talented and hardworking professionals. Everyone on the show is deeply concerned with quality and doing an exemplary job.


Some flirting and references to sex. Viewers will see models in underwear and otherwise barely covered in clothing.


A few lesser four-letter words, sometimes said in anger: "What the hell is this?"


Many brands are mentioned and highlighted, and challenges are calculated to showcase fashion lines, clothing stores, and other commercial entities.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Contestants may occasionally be shown drinking after working.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Under the Gunn is a design competition that's very similar to Project Runway. Like Project Runway, Under the Gunn features aspiring designers undergoing challenges that may leave them tense and frazzled. When tempers fray, designers may squabble and speak unkindly to each other. They also rip each other to shreds in behind-the-scenes interviews. But for the most part the focus is on fashion and design, not personal issues. Parents can expect mild cursing and occasional sexual references; contestants may occasionally drink after the workday is over, but no one acts drunk. More worrisome for parents may be the focus on looks and beauty, and the physiques of the pin-thin models who walk the runway. Under the Gunn also continually plugs brands, flashing logos and taking on challenges designed to showcase particular fashion lines, clothing stores, and celebrities.

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What's the story?

Tim Gunn, best known for kindly mentoring multiple seasons of contestants on Project Runway, gets his own spin-off in UNDER THE GUNN, a fashion competition that's much like its parent show, with some tweaks. Here, Gunn takes on Heidi Klum's PR role, while three past contestants, Nick Verreos, Mondo Guerra, and Anya Ayoung-Chee, act as mentors. Each mentor chooses a team of designer-contestants, who are winnowed down week by week with design challenges that culminate in a runway show with a winner and a loser. The last designer wins $100,000, a car, a guest fashion editorship, and more prizes.

Is it any good?

Under the Gunn is frank about being derivative: "I've taken everything I love about Project Runway and added my own flair and flavor," Tim Gunn says on the voiceover that opens the show. That flair and flavor, by the way, comes straight from The Voice, itself an American Idol rip-off that adds in mentorship. But no matter, since idea theft is common in the reality world.

The important point here is that if you like Project Runway, you'll like this, particularly if the dapper and gentle Mr. Gunn is one of the original's most potent pleasures for you. Under the Gunn is basically Project Gunn-way, with no Klum or Nina Garcia, and more Tim. There's a workroom, fabrics from Mood, even an accessories wall for the runway show. Having past contestants return to mentor current ones is a bit of a twist, but the basic framework is the same. It'll hold Runway fans over until its next season, anyway, if nothing else.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Under the Gunn is so similar to the show that brought Tim Gunn to fame, Project Runway. Why is Lifetime not just running another season of Project Runway? Why create a new show that's so similar?

  • The models used on Under the Gunn are various races and ethnicities, but all are very young and thin. Why is this?

  • Look up some of the past contestants from Project Runway. Does it appear as though being on the show helped their careers? Do winners do better than those who didn't win? Does it look to be worthwhile to compete on such a show?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality shows

Themes & Topics

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