In the first four minutes alone, Fashion Star, which premiered last night on NBC, proved to be an overproduced mess, with cheering, dancing, strobe lights, quick cuts, weird camera angles, throbbing music, pyrotechnics and forced applause. Not to mention shilling Elle McPherson's lingerie, like an infomercial. There was so much smoke machine mist and chaos you could barely see the fucking clothes.

The producers aimed to make this fashion competition exciting and fast-paced and more like American Idol or The Voice than Project Runway, but the truth is, when a designer has three pieces to show, it should only take about 3 seconds for each store — Macy's, H&M and Saks — to decide if those pieces should be for sale at the retailer. Instead, Fashion Star was 90 minutes long, and it felt like 80 minutes of that was applause... Sometimes you could hear applause even when you couldn't see the audience clapping, leading me to believe that an applause track was added in post-production. (Shows do this all the time.)

All of this is not to say the show wasn't enjoyable — it was, in a way. Deciding whether or not you like an outfit is a popular hobby nowadays; from watching red carpet arrivals at award shows to celebrity paparazzi slideshows to those little stickies in Lucky magazine. So much like being an at-home judge on Idol, watching mFashion Star lets you play along, critiquing cut and fit and design, and even if you wouldn't wear the little black dress so-and-so sent down the runway, you can probably tell when other people would. And the trick with this show is that you can buy the "winning" garments right after the program airs.

As of right now, the H&M-produced dress designed by Sarah Parrott is sold out; the zipper skirt by Orly Shani, sold at Saks, is sold out; and a few of the Lizzie Parker items at Macy's are sold out. Does that mean this American Idol-meets-HSN show is a success? And what about the poor designers? It's not like they are suddenly household names, like an Idol finalist. I'll bet the label of the H&M dress says H&M and not Sarah Parrott. And the zipper skirt at Saks doesn't even mention the name of the designer. Anyway. If they tone down the frantic hubbub, I might watch it again; I was tempted to put on sunglasses part of the way through, so I could watch the eye-assaulting insanity from behind shades, like John Varvatos.

The best part was Nicole Richie talking about how certain trousers were "grabbing" a model's "vagina."