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Does Candace Bushnell’s ‘Jungle’ Score With Real Power Women?

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Whew, do New York’s working women have it bad. This summer, in FX’s hit series Damages, we learned that if you spent too much time at your high-profile law firm, your fiancé might be murdered! Then, in ABC’s Cashmere Mafia, we saw that if you beat out your fiancé for a promotion, he’ll dump you! Enter Lipstick Jungle, Candace Bushnell’s new take on the plight of powerful Manhattan career gals, premiering this week on NBC. In the first episode, Wendy (Brooke Shields) finds her stay-at-home husband threatened by her success as a film executive; Nico (Kim Raver), the feisty editor-in-chief of the lifestyle magazine Bonfire, discovers her boss won’t promote her because she’s a woman; and fashion designer Victory (Lindsay Price) sees her career in shambles after a bad review in the Times. We asked three eminently qualified guest critics to weigh in. “Let’s just say that the show has a ways to go,” says Janice Min, editor-in-chief of Us Weekly. “A male executive wouldn’t blatantly say he’s not going to promote you because you may have children.” And though she gives Lipstick Jungle credit for portraying successful women and “not just ‘the hot girlfriends’,” it’s not a show that Min says she’d be drawn to. “The dialogue seemed forced and their camaraderie just didn’t fly,” she says, adding drily, “but at least they kept their clothes on … for the first episode.” New York film producer Christine Vachon, who also watched the show, concedes its fantastical elements are pretty glaring. “If you say ‘Get me Leo [DiCaprio]!’ like Wendy does on the show, there’s no way you’re actually getting him on the line,” she says. But of course realism has never been a prerequisite for an entertaining TV program. Jungle, she says, “has some of the same pleasures of Sex and the City, in that it serves up a fantasy New York in which everyone lives in an apartment with a staircase.” Fashion designer Catherine Malandrino likes the energy of the show (“especially the scene in which the three were walking down the street in slo-mo—they looked beautiful and tough”), but finds fault in the fashion. “Victory’s line was very mundane; like a boring caricature of a fashion line—not my style at all,” she says. So what’s Lipstick Jungle’s biggest liability, according to our reviewers? “It hits you over the head with This is this woman’s problem, this is this woman’s problem, and so on,” laments Min. “It just wasn’t funny.”


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