Review: Cashmere Mafia 1×1

Cashmere Mafia

In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Trying to get that vital ‘female’ demographic to watch television is tricky. The answer apparently is Sex and the City. You know, a show about women, by women and starring women that women actually wanted to watch. That’s got to be a fluke. A one-off. There’s no way any other plot or situation would work, is there?

Thus we’ve had Women’s Murder Club, Lipstick Jungle and now Cashmere Mafia, all variations on Sex and the City in which varying numbers of women unite together to advance their careers, fend off the evil oppression of men and discuss relationships and stuff.

Four ambitious, sexy women who have been best friends since business school, Mia, Zoe, Juliet and Caitlin, try to have it all. They aren’t just powerful and intelligent as singular executive sensations in a man’s world; they’ve bonded into a formidable unit a female “boys’ club” — to support and counsel each other through good times and bad. How better to climb up the corporate ladder than with your buddies at your side?

Set in glamorous New York City, where titans of media, finance, advertising and publishing reside, these driven women, who daily share their relatable and relevant problems dealing with both the boardroom and bedroom, combine their smarts, wit and humor to deal with personal and professional misfortunes and stunning triumphs. Whether it’s coping with rocky marriages, fending off scheming colleagues or just trying to find themselves in the midst of chaotic lives, these compelling women use their valuable friendship to keep centered.

Ever since Mia Mason (Lucy Liu) was a young girl, all she ever wanted to do was win. Now as a sexy, competitive woman in the publishing field, that drive to be first has intensified, even pitting her against her fiancé for a key position. What price will she have to pay to stay on top of the mountain?

Zoe Burden (Frances O’Connor), an investment banker with a handsome, loving, work-at-home architect husband, Eric (Julian Ovenden), and two small children, seems to be the prototype for the woman who has it all. The couple face their 24-7 waltz of balancing full-time work and the challenge of being good parents with good humor, but the wheels may be coming off the cart, forcing Zoe to re-evaluate her life.

For Juliet Draper (Miranda Otto), the Chief Operating Officer of a major hotel chain, appearances come first — no matter what’s going on behind closed doors. And she will have to work overtime to keep up the façade of a perfect life with her philandering husband, Davis (Peter Hermann), and her rebellious 14-year-old daughter. Juliet decides on a unique method of payback for Davis’ indiscretions and simultaneously, in a bold move, must decide to drop her public image to step out in the world.

Caitlin Dowd (Bonnie Somerville) is a top marketing executive for a cosmetics firm. Like the other women, she is excelling professionally, but she’s still discovering who she is personally and sexually. She’s worked hard to get ahead, but still counts on her street smarts to keep her there, while her sense of humor and a sweet wackiness makes her all the more attractive.

“Cashmere Mafia” stars Lucy Liu (“Ally McBeal,” “Charlie’s Angels”) as Mia, Frances O’Connor (“A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” “Mansfield Park”) as Zoe, Miranda Otto (“Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Starter Wife”) as Juliet, Bonnie Somerville (“NYPD Blue,” “Kitchen Confidential”) as Caitlin, Peter Hermann (“Law & Order: SVU,” “United 93”) as Davis and Julian Ovenden (“Related,” “Butley” on Broadway) as Eric

Is it any good?
If you like the Femail section of the Daily Mail, you’ll love this. Women: Become too successful and your partner will hate you. Be too competitive and your partner will hate you. Younger women are out to get you. You can’t have it all – know your place.

Of course, the camouflage for all this is, as always, Strong Female Friends. By sticking together – while acknowledging that you can’t have it all – you can at least have some of the things you’ve always wanted. Best to set your ambitions low though.

It really is all very tiresome. Even more tiresome is the fact that as well as being mostly exec produced by men, including Sex and the City supremo Darren Star, it’s also written by men and directed by men. It’s men, trying to work out what women want from a TV show and trying to give it to them.

It’s like everyone sat down and asked themselves, “What do we know women don’t like and which most men already know women don’t like?” and then created situations in which men do all these things. They all then expected to be congratulated on their insight, rather than told to come up with something original for a change.

Gosh, a meeting in which a man ignores the woman COO and gets slapped down for it. Why I’ve never seen such a thing in television history. A toast to you, sirs!

Have we just walked into an episode of Mad Men by accident? Here’s a hint: WHY DON’T YOU HIRE SOME WOMEN?

It’s not truly truly awful, just a little bit awful. The cast isn’t too bad. The Dick Tracey-esque summoning of the ‘Cashmere Mafia’ was quite fun. If we lost the rubbish Lucy Liu and Juliet Draper plots, the Frances O’Connor (work from home husband now going to be working out of the home) and Bonnie Summerville (am I gay? I think I am) strands might have some sparkle and room to breath, even if they’re not the most promising at the moment. The “post generation Y women are scuzzy and think they’re the centre of the universe” motif could get chopped without much loss, too.

But if you’re like me (which is possible), you’ll feel like hitting your head against a wall for a good hour after you’ve watched Cashmere Mafia. Here’s a YouTube trailer.