Preview: Lipstick Jungle

Lipstick Jungle

In the US: NBC, Sundays, 10/9c. January 2008 start

In the UK: Not yet acquired

Sorry for the slight delay on this one: I needed to draft my wife in to watch this one as well, or else my opinion would be even more irrelevant than normal. This is, after all, one for the ladies.

The good news is that it’s based on Candace “I wrote Sex and the City, I did’ Bushnell’s book of the same name so has a reasonable pedigree, the show runners have already been fired, and Kim Raver can act.

The bad news is that no one else can act, the script’s awful, and they’re going to air the pilot as is, without changes.

As my wife put it, ”I like trashy TV, but that was just bad.“

Plot (rescued from a 1990s NBC web site time capsule)

Based on the best-selling book by Candace Bushnell (“Sex and the City”), this enticing new dramedy follows three high-powered friends as they weather the ups and downs of lives lived at the top of their game. Nico (Kim Raver, “24”), editor-in-chief of a hot fashion magazine, has her eye on becoming CEO. Movie executive Wendy (Brooke Shields, “Suddenly Susan”) does everything she can to balance career and family. And free-spirited designer Victory (Lindsay Price, “Beverely Hills, 90210”) longs to make her dreams come true, and maybe find Mr. Right along the way. Armed with humor and strength, these three modern New York women support one another through the triumphs and tears that are all part of making it big in the Big Apple.

Is it any good?

That would be a big fat no. It might have worked if it were set in the 1990s and some kind of alternative reality. But in a real-life setting, it’s trying too hard to recapture Sex and the City, but without sex, insight, charm or anything else that might be key to achieving this dream.

Raver, an editor-in-chief, wants to be CEO – never going to happen if you’ve not been to business school: try retraining, love.

Shields is a movie exec (in New York? And you’re going up against Dreamworks? That’s your first career mistake – get thee to LA!) whose man won’t lift a finger to help around the apartment or with the kids because he’s too busy working on his restaurant dream – hmm, can’t you get a nanny then Brooke, you high-powered exec, just like every other high-powered New York exec who can afford a spacious Manhattan loft apartment?

Price falls apart when her fashion line gets bad reviews. Hmm, because that will never have happened before.

But because they’re all such fabulous female friends who are female and friends, they support each other through their artificial difficulties, mumbling bad dialogue, and time-warping themselves by talking about Leonardo di Caprio and Sudoku. Never mind that for women supposedly at the top of their games, waging all out war in the “lipstick jungle”, they have the fighting spirit of some lovely little kittens playing with a ball of twine. They have to be (supposed) everywomen: hard on the outside, but just wanting to be loved for the ishy, squishy little girls that they are on the inside.

Let’s do the 90s time warp again. Haven’t we moved on just a little bit since then?

Raver’s actual ability to act makes you think the show might have some potential, even when the dialogue is awful, but then Shields or Price says something and you realise it’s rubbish. Shields can act, too, but only in sitcoms and she seems stuck in “terrible ham” mode the whole time. Price? Well, it’s 90210 all over again for her.

And even if all this weren’t enough to persuade you, I have one final, clinching piece of evidence: Julian Sands is in it as Raver’s partner. Need I say any more?

On the plus side, as mentioned, the show runners have gone and been replaced by an Ugly Betty supremo, which suggests they’re edging away from the dram in dramedy towards the medy, which means Shields will look less out of place and the show might be more enjoyable as a bit of escapist silliness. But as a supposed example of strong women sorting their work-life balance out in the ultra-competitive business world, you might as well watch Little House on the Prairie.

Here’s a link to some nice videos from the show.


Brooke Shields (Wendy Healy)

Kim Raver (Nico Reilly)

Lindsay Price (Victory Ford)

Chris Wiehl (Shane Healy)

David Alan Basche (Mike Harness)

Julian Sands (Charles Lund)

David Norona (Selden Rose)