Rachel Zoe Project: “That wasn’t girly, that was French. There’s a difference.”

October 27th, 2011

Last night, we bid farewell to another season of The Rachel Zoe Project, and unlike with most reality show finales, I left feeling warm and fuzzy. When you compare and contrast that to the taste of bile that was left in my mouth after the Real Housewives of New Jersey finale, I found myself wishing that the season ran a little longer.

We did get a final visit with Little Peanut Skyler, though, who is just as adorable and well-dressed and you would expect. In addition, Rachel seemed to be enjoying motherhood just as much, if not more than, she enjoyed being pregnant. It looks like the thing that Rachel needed all along was something important enough to distract her from her work and balance out her life.

This episode was a little bit different than the ones before it, for obvious reasons. Instead of picking up exactly where we left off last week, we rejoined Rachel, Rodger and Little Peanut Skyler six weeks after he made his debut into the world. The family was at home, cooing and fussing over the baby, but Rachel’s maternity leave was about to end; as she pointed out, she’s the head of this whole circus, and she can’t linger at home as much as someone who gets corporate maternity leave might be able to.

Meanwhile, Mandana & Co. were back at the studio, readying the lookbook shoot for Rachel’s Resort 2012 line and awaiting bosslady’s imminent return to work. Rachel’s solution to her desire to spend time with the bambino was to bring him to the shoot, so naturally, Mandana had to do the bulk of the detail work while Rachel oversaw things in a very general sense in favor of paying attention to her little man.

Before Skyler, Rachel’s relaxed attitude and willingness to delegate work at the photo shoot would have been entirely unthinkable. In a situation where we’re all used to seeing a ball of anxiety, Rachel seemed totally at peace. Not everyone wants to be a mom and not everyone should be, but it looks like Rachel is one of those people who was always intended to have a kid. Who would have thunk? And then out of nowhere, like some sort of very handsome fairy godfather, Brian Atwood showed up to bless the proceedings by complimenting Rachel’s collection shoes.

Back at the studio, Mandana (who really needs to cut her bangs by, like, at least three-quarters of an inch, they were driving me CRAZY) was re-hiring Jeremiah, but not for his previous job. Instead, he was being brought on for a special project – designing a store-within-a-store for Rachel’s collection at the Bloomingdale’s flagship in Los Angeles. He went straight to Room & Board to accomplish this feat, which should make it well apparent at this point that Room & Board ponied up for some product placement. And that’s fine, but let it be known that Room & Board is perhaps not the ideal place to go if you’re looking to design a Parisian dressing room. If you’re looking for a good, reasonably modern bed, though, I highly recommend it! From personal experience.

Anyway, that’s not important. What’s important was the adorable scene afterward, in which Rachel and Rodger sang cutesy little songs to Skyler and Rachel went over which designers were in his closet, just so he’d know. And you guys, I don’t even really want to have kids! I never have, even back before I was grown and capable of having cogent opinions about such things! While watching Rachel with her little dude, though, I’m pretty sure that I ovulated right then and there. It could not have been more heartwarming or precious if they had scripted it.

Back in the working world, though, it was time for Jeremiah to present his hastily made plans for Rachel’s store-in-store to Mandana. And shockingly (not the sarcasm, please), Mandana doesn’t like it! Mandana doesn’t like anything, particularly some woman’s fat husband holding her coat while sitting in the middle of their precious display, warding off potential shoppers. She did have a point, though; Jeremiah wasn’t supposed to be designing a very chic waiting room, he was supposed to be designing a “store” that would exhibit the line to passing shoppers. Having tons of furniture that can’t hold clothes right up front doesn’t really accomplish that. So off Jeremiah went, in search of low-back chairs and more surface area, less seating.

Meanwhile, Rachel was back at home, planning a business trip with Skyler and trying to figure out what she needed. Or, perhaps more importantly, what he needed. Options! Lots and lots of options for the baby, because who knows what mood he’ll be in that day? Rodger stood in the background, muttering about “wrestling T-shirts” (whatever that is) and begging Rachel not to dress the baby like a girl. Woe is she who tries to explain the difference between girly and French to a straight dude.

Before that trip could happen, though, Jeremiah had to build a store-in-store at Bloomingdale’s and present it to both Rachel and the store executives, which made me wonder if this season would have had any non-baby story lines at all if we hadn’t had Jeremiah around to frantically build things. Frantically build things and get fired! Jeremiah and Rachel’s baby bump have basically been the stars of the show thus far. When Jeremiah was done, the setup looked quite a bit like the one that Mandana had rejected, except with a different table and only one chair instead of two. The chair still had quite a high back. Would he get in trouble for not listening? Drama! Tension!

Except naturally, Rachel and Mandana arrived, added a chair (which Jeremiah conveniently had on hand and which had been in his original design) and totally loved the setup. So did the executives! And so did the dude on the phone, who decided in about ten seconds that, sure, put it in another eight stores! Sometimes the seams on this show are a little too evident for my taste, but for reasons I don’t entirely understand, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying my hour a week in Rachel’s world.

Back at home, Rodger was back to being a petulant manchild (over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, of all things) while he and Rachel discussed Jeremiah and his employment future. Remember when they fired him two weeks ago? Well, yeah, they were maybe starting to regret that a little bit, particularly since they keep having reasons to call him back and give him work and he keeps doing a great job. So maybe they do have enough for him to do after all, at least so they can keep him around until things grow more and he has a more obvious spot in the company? Sure, why not. Hire people just to keep them from being hired by your competitors!

We somehow skipped straight from that conversation to Rachel and Rodger throwing a barbecue that somehow involved a salami. But not just any salami – Rachel’s Famous Salami, which somehow involved Rachel rubbing some sort of sauce (jelly?) on a sliced salami loaf and then putting it in the oven. Everyone testified independently that the salami was utterly amazing, but no one offered up the recipe. LAME. If someone knows what she did, please let me know. That looks like the kind of cooking I could potentially handle.

Once the salami had been consumed and everyone moved outside, Rodger battled spiders (he’s a manly man) to fire up the grill while everyone else explained to Joey why all poultry is meat but not all meat is poultry. I don’t think he really understood it. It didn’t matter, though, because he had already eaten some salami, which covers a fashion person’s solid food calories for a whole day.

Once the food was cooked, the group sat down and Rodger actually got a little emotional thanking Jeremiah for putting together the house (and especially the nursery) and re-offering him the job from which he had just been fired. Jeremiah got a little emotional in return, and then Rachel cried too. Happy tears galore! Since I don’t really believe that any of these people are competent actors, the emotion seemed genuine to me, and it was all kind of adorable. All in all, it’s been a really sweet, positive season – much better than when Rachel is feuding with former employees or losing her mind over Oscar dresses. Maybe Rach and Rodg will do the pregnancy thing all over again in a year or two.

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