Making the world a better place, one show at a time.

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Washington, DC, United States
I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lipstick Jungle (6): At Least It Is Not Cashmere Mafia.

In an effort to be completely unproductive on Saturday, I browsed the major network websites looking for something to watch. I have seen all the ads for Lipstick Jungle over the last month, and while I was not bristled by it (as I am by the very title Cashmere Mafia, who came up with that?), I did not feel strongly inclined to tune in. Well, sloth is the mother of desperation, so I said what the hell. I am pleased to report that while Lipstick Jungle has flaws, there is every indication that this show will only improve over time and become an endearingly entertaining show to relax with.

I am not going to go into detail about the premise of the show. It is your basic “women with high-powered jobs, amazing wardrobes, and complex personal lives” type show, but with some elements that distinguish it from its progenitor Sex and the City. (Both shows are based on novels written by the same author.) For example: two of the three main female characters are already married, so this is not just an exploration of how single women fill their time; the high-profile career is not always on the upswing, Victory (Lindsay Price) is having a complete professional disaster; not everything fits into teeny-tiny purses, the most realistic part of the show is the pack-horse necessity of transporting all a woman requires during the day; and most noticeable, the show is not tied together by a central intelligence narrator who recaps the life lesson for the audience at the end of the episode.

The distinctions give the show room to develop its own personality, but as I said above, there is need for growth. One major stumbling block for this show is the opening credits. I want to put these opening credits and the Season Three Veronica Mars opening credits in a room together and maybe they would confuse each other out of existence. Most shows now do not have theme songs; either a pop song is imposed upon it (Dawson’s Creek, Friends), or the show title flashes on the screen for a moment set to a snippet of instrumental music and the cast list runs on the bottom of the second scene (Ugly Betty, Pushing Daisies). Therefore it is kind of nice that Lipstick Jungle attempts old-fashioned opening credits, but the outcome is just ridiculous; the pictures that make the show appear to be a shoe commercial, and the trite fortune-cookie expressions of the breathy vocals seem immensely incongruent with the age-range of the characters.

Furthermore, the interaction between the main characters is not exactly forced, more kind of stiff. Wendy (Brooke Shields), Nico (Kim Raver) and Victory are supposed to be best friends, and the more casual conversations appear natural and realistic. It is when things get sentimental that plausibility gets stretched. Almost as if the show creators feel the need to apologize for the hardness these women adopt due to their career demands, the displays of feminine solidarity are hyperbolic, and I mean that in the classical sense. As I viewer I believe that these particular women would feel the kind of attachment to each other that they express, I just don’t believe they would expresses it in the way that, and to the degree to, these scenes are written and staged. I am not accusing the show of falsity, just overstatement. As the actors become more comfortable with their characters, and as the personalities are developed, I think there will not be such a sharp contrast between the drinking moments and the hugging moments. Sometimes there is just some creakiness when a show starts out.

And despite the creakiness, I do not foresee myself abandoning ship. I am not in a place in my life where I can “relate” to the concerns these women face, but in general they are bright, funny, and sympathetic women. What I find most compelling about them is their (for the most part) lack of self-pity. Nico has a, shall I say, interesting demarcation of priorities; when she meets Kirby (Robert Buckley) the twenty-five year old with whom she is having an affair, she asks him to guess her age before she tells him that she is married. Yet, she confronts honestly the reality that her actions have consequences. She hasn’t really made a choice yet, but she isn’t wondering why things are going wrong. Victory is affected by what others say about her, but she doesn’t allow that to stop her from pursuing what she thinks is right for her life and her career. Even though Wendy faces complex logistics in her marriage, she recognizes that a oh-poor-me attitude will only make things worse. It is refreshing to watch women who practice what they preach, and not be preachy. I do not necessarily want to be any of these women, but I do not want to throw rocks at them.

On a shallower note, Brooke Shields verges almost on the tranny look; she has all of this hair that does nothing to frame her face, which makes her features look harsh and her hair look fake. Cosmetically she needs to be softened. I adored the detail that her character does not try on shoes in the store because the clerks judge her for her long feet. It made for just a funny little moment that both humbled her character, and reminds the audience that fashion is not magic.

As a very, very shallow conclusion, Kirby (what an unfortunate name) is a wonderful piece of eye candy. Soulful eyes, disarming smile, beautiful body; I would totally have an affair with him. I am trying not to get attached; I don’t think he will stick around long. But I will thankfully enjoy the view while available.

The TV Girl


Asiankp said...

I can't comment too much because I havent seen any of the episodes and to be honest, I have been avoiding it like the plague. I've never been a huge Sex in the City fan but I dont think that America needs any more shows that displays career minded women as sex-crazed, money driven harlots who dont care about their marriages or their children. As a women who wants to actively pursue a specific career, its annoying to think that society and Hollywod has trivialized these versions of the modern woman.

The TV Girl said...

I think you would maybe not like this show, but don't take your preconceptions into it. They actually care about their families, their careers just get equal time. I don't think this show trivializes either aspect, career or family. I may be more hopeful about this show than is warranted, but I really enjoyed it, and wasn't offended by it. There are parts of Sex and the City that are offensive to women.