Peg

Review: Lipstick Jungle, NBC Thursday Nights at 10pm

Editor's Note: a new episode of Lipstick Jungle airs tonight. [Link goes to TV Guide to help you catch reruns and then the new ep tonight on NBC, USA, Oxygen, and Bravo.]

In these days of slim-pickens when it comes to new scripted TV to watch, I am intrigued that two new drama-dies have come out of the woodwork to comment on the struggles of working women. (I haven't watched Cashmere Mafia but have heard that it is really good.) Last night I watched Lipstick Jungle on NBC. I even put off my contract revision and diligence work until 11pm to catch this show -- and, girls that is a late night for me!

I thought the show was good. I am going to have to get over the fact that these women all have unbelievably over-the-top dream jobs if I continue to watch. (Studio Exec, Fashion Designer with her own label, and Magazine Publisher) But, that aside, the personal stories are interesting and make for good TV. They line up with the issues that we talk about on Ms. JD -- balancing family and work, whether or not to show emotions at work, the effectiveness of male vs. female traits in the professional setting, being mommy-tracked, dealing with stereotypes about women in the office, missing opportunities that open on the golf course, not being invited to golf, random inappropriate comments, supportive spouse forced to live in the shadow of a successful woman, and so on. As I write this, I am realizing that there were many, many issues touched on in tonight's episode that really encompass a lot of the struggles that are unique to working women (as opposed to working men).

My recommendation: check it out but when you do try to get past the amazing careers and constant make-up applications (and many make-up commercials)!

I would love to hear why people think this is the current hot topic for TV drama/comedies and whether you think it is a coincidence that now is the time when websites like Ms. JD, Glass Hammer, Damsels in Success and the like are taking off. Is this all about prepping the market for the inevitable conversation about livable work/life expectations in this society?

5 Comments

jessie

First ,there were two issues addressed on tonight's episode that felt reminiscent of conversation I've heard on Ms. JD: being portrayed as a bad mother for working full-time or over-time and women hating on women out of competition or insecurity or both. So in those ways the show felt like it touched on real issues. It didn't do much to make you feel better or more informed about either one, but still the issues were there and I appreciated that.
Now, the thing I noticed most (ok I confess the thing I noticed most was Brook Shield's incredible calf muscles!) was the plastic surgery. All three main characters looked like patchwork quilts to me. I have no personal knowlede of any of these actress's cosmetic surgery regimens, I can only convey the impression I got from watching the show.  That said these women looked pulled and puffed in all the wrong places. And I can recognize their surgical alterations as such, because like work life balance and professional jealously, plastic suregry is a third way in which Lipstick Jungle seems to have hit on a reality for professional women.
I cannot believe how many women, particularly it seems high priced litigators, go under the knife now. I know it's easy at age 25 to wonder at this development with bewilderment. But seriously ladies, enough with the pursuit of perfection. 
Watching the women on Lipstick Jungle get up early to work out, spend time in front of the mirror perfecting flawless makeup, slip into stilettos, and then run around Manhattan seemed realistic to the extent that I see many women go through the same motions, though arguably with less satisfying results.
I think many women are working around the clock to "have it all" just like those on Lipstick Jungle.  I know that's in large part what motivates many discussions on this site. And yet seeing it on the screen, it seemed utterly ridiculous. This pursuit of perfection was so clearly impossible in a fictional world, it left me wondering why I continue to strive for it in my real one.

Peg

So, how about last night?  Well, the show seems to have departed from the focus on the issues of professional women. Yes, the episode touched on the following themes:  women being too controlling; women managers not delegating; women being too emotionally involved in their work; and women not wanting to be rescued by a man when her professional life is struggling.  However, it was no where near as jam packed with women's issues as was the first episode—albeit the writers likely dumped too many issues into the first episode.  Instead, last night was a sensationalized and sexualized tv dram-ady like all the rest: fashion, makeup, sex, affairs, and celebrity were the focus of last night. 
I haven't decided that I don't like the show but I will now watch (when I can) expecting nothing more than I expect from all the other shows that I've tried to watch over the years, BH 90210, Desparate Housewives, The OC, etc, etc, blah blah blah.
p.s. I never did watch week 2, my tivo stopped working and I don't know how to recover from this set-back :(.

jessie

So I'm no longer tuning in to either Cashmere Mafia or Lipstick Jungle.
But I am totally riveted by Prime Suspect. Helen Mirren stars as Scotland Yard's first female lead detective. Bottom line, it's just much much better television.  Part of that is a much much better treatment of the gender-based issues involved. 
The whole series is available on DVD - I've got it out on Netflix. I highly recommend it!

veronica

I've always liked Prime Suspect. Which series are you watching? I agree it canvasses a lot of the issues relevant today.
I am not a fan of the "seven layers of make-up" type shows quite apart from the storylines. I have certainly worked with smart professional women who are also thin and flawlessly made up but they're not the norm amongst women (or men) and I think that stereotype itself is not a good thing. Too many people already equate being less physically attractive (older, fatter, with a few wrinkles) with being less professionally attractive so I don't think we need to reinforce that.
One of the great things about Helen Mirren is that she is not an unattractive or ugly woman but she is very REAL looking. I think that combined with the more serious take on issues in the series that makes for a better image for women.

jessie

I just started - but I'm totally hooked. And it just struck me as I was watching how much better they were handling the issues we talk about.  For example, the take on work-life balance was not about a woman trying to get away from work and not being able to and being upset about that, but about a woman being totally consumed by her work and neglecting and embittering her significant other who was left waiting for her at home.

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