First Review: Lipstick Jungle

“You are not a loser. You are an extraordinary person. You are funny, you are scary smart, and intense and gorgeous and larger than life and you deserve to be loved because of those things, not in spite of them.” Make it so, Candace Bushnell.

Here we go again. In a predictable New York setting are three high-powered ladies dripping in fashion, big hair, affluence, girlpower and sex appeal. They’re split from the same atom as Sex and the City, Cashmere Mafia, Women’s Murder Club, Melrose Place, Models Inc, Dynasty, blah blah blah.

This time round, Brooke Shields is a movie studio executive; Kim Raver is a magazine editor; and Lindsay Price a fashion designer. Unsurprisingly, one is a working mother, another is partnered and the third is single. How will they ever juggle careers and personal lives? Seen it all before? I sure have.

Bushnell worked wonders with Sex and the City. Those girls said what women had long been thinking and Oprah couldn’t say. They were brash, sexual, and most importantly, they weren’t perfect. Being flawed characters gave them depth. This is not to say the same won’t evolve across Bushnell’s new project, but it isn’t particularly apparent yet.

Still, pilots are tricky beasts and this one needed four writers. I couldn’t detect Bushnell’s voice anywhere amid the champagne flutes, designer dresses, photo flashes, fake furs, limousines, dinner dates, luscious skylines, sexy music, and romantic trysts. As if produced to a napkin checklist, this is a show where aspiration rules, sans any point of difference.

It also lacks a few other emotions, like humour and humility. Sex and the City always bestowed a bittersweet learning curve upon Carrie Bradshaw. Ugly Betty revels in its camp Cinderella fairytale. Melrose dipped itself into high melodrama with outlandish plots.

In fairness, the show already has a longer life than Cashmere Mafia, winning a second series from NBC. There’s a bit of eye candy when Kim Raver meets hot blonde guy ‘Kirby’ in a bar (a clone of ‘Smith’ from Sex and the City), and Julian Sands has a minor role.

So far, Lipstick Jungle feels like the emperor’s new clothes. Time will tell if it really is all just window dressing or not. For now, I’m putting my credit card away. I don’t think I earn a high enough salary to watch this show.

Lipstick Jungle premieres 9:30pm Sunday June 29 on Seven.

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