What’s Worth Watching: ‘Steampunk’d on GSN for Wednesday, August 19


Steampunk’d, Series Premiere (Wednesday, Aug. 19, 10/9c, GSN)

Like a mash-up of Face Off, Project Runway and Design Star, TV’s newest design competition is also the first dedicated to a specific genre aesthetic: Steampunk, a movement inspired by Victorian-era technology and fashion, both retro and futuristic in approach. Hosted by Jeannie Mai, Steampunk’d divides its eclectic cast of contestants—here called “Makers”—into teams, who are challenged to create a series of rooms which will be assembled into a “Manor” displaying each of the winning designs.

First up: a post-apocalyptic kitchen, in which the players must repurpose ordinary objects from a junky “punkyard” to accessorize the vintage appliances and furniture. They must also complete a costume that ties into the room’s overall theme, and concoct a Rube Goldberg-like contraption that is functional enough to serve breakfast. The creativity is impressive, even when the show’s rhythms echo all those who’ve come before. Which means watching the designers operate under severe time pressure, often chafing against team dynamics that prove alien to these very individual artists. “I talk to my tools, they’re very patient,” says one of the more eccentric contestants, who we suspect might have better luck if he’d only interact more efficiently with his easily frustrated teammates.

But that sort of conflict amid creation is what makes shows like these fun to watch, and when Steampunk’d delivers the goods for the judges, you’ll marvel over how they did it.