The City Recap: Olivia Palermo ‘Can Talk to a Park Bench’

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Photo: Courtesy of MTV

Apparently if you're a fashion magazine or a newspaper column and need a little slice of reality-TV airtime, The City has you covered! Last night’s episode felt like a media orgy, as Elle rubbed up on "Page Six" and Whitney sucked up to Glamour. This is Elle's reality show! And they have to give Condé Nast a hard-won piece of their MTV pie? Anyway, everyone but Roxy got what they wanted this episode. Olivia looked good in front of her boss and Erin got the magazine in "Page Six," which Joe was delighted with. Whitney got her skirt in Glamour and Kelly got to give an awesome lecture about freaks and followers. Only Roxy was left kind of moronic, but at least she wasn't discouraged from being herself. And now this week's lessons.

Lesson 1: Inviting a girl to a party without making it a date.
Do: Invite someone else right in front of her face. Joe stops by Olivia’s desk and asks her if she wants to go to a party for Gossip Girl stylist Eric Daman. She smiles and accepts with, “I’ll be your date.” Maintaining his poker face, Joe asks Erin, sitting behind Olivia and looking particularly fabulous with her hair slightly more voluminous than usual, if she wants to go, too. If she had accepted, Olivia wouldn’t be Joe’s date, she’d just be someone who got to go to the party because she knows him. Anyway, this whole scene illustrates a particular problem with the fashion industry, which is women sucking up to gay men because they’re competitive with and jealous of other women. Meanwhile, gay friends are what all their other female non-fashion friends want, which makes them want gay male companionship even more. Olivia would never look at anyone but Joe with those big, glossy heart-shaped eyes.

Lesson 2: Taking compliments.
Do: Be gracious. At the Eric Daman party, Joe and Eric have a fit over Olivia’s outfit when she reveals it’s vintage Luca Luca. In this way she is a real-life Gossip Girl so it makes sense that they would appreciate it. She smiles and enjoys the attention, which is only natural.
Don’t: Act childish. Olivia enjoys the attention a little too much, which must be unseemly for a society girl. Rather than keep the squealing little girl on the inside, she gloats and cocks her chin and scrunches up her eyes and grins from ear to ear, like these compliments over her appearance mean more to her than anything. In Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants, Jill Soloway identifies this princess phenomenon seen when little girls act like this after adults tell them their dresses are pretty. Olivia, though 24, was this little girl. But for someone who spends so long on her hair and outfit every day, the gushing is the least Eric and Joe can do.

Lesson 3: Making sense of star fuckers.
Don’t: Even try. There’s nothing to understand. Star fuckers are fascinated by fame and probably either want some for themselves or want just to be close to it so they can say they have “connections” and accrue stories that might impress potential love interests. Seth tells Olivia he was impressed with how she just talked to anyone — Blake Lively, Leighton Meester — at the Eric Daman party. Olivia replies with her most priceless quote of the entire series: “I can talk to a park bench.” What does this even mean? A park bench is not Blake Lively, and Olivia can barely stand to fully open her mouth to form actual words when she talks to Erin, much less a bench. When Olivia gets up and leaves, Seth expresses his confusion to Erin: “If I’m Leighton Meester why do I care to talk to her?”
Do: Take them at face value. Erin replies to Seth, “She probably just goes to a lot of parties.” She does! Last month, Patrick McMullan photographers shot her at eight separate events. Later in the episode, Whitney finds herself at a Bergdorf party with Olivia. “She’s an ass kiss. I wonder if these people actually like her or if they just put up with her,” she says. “She just always seems to, like, nudge her way in somehow.” Oh, we love her bitchy side!

Lesson 4: Telling friends how other people feel about them.
Do: Tell them the good stuff only. It takes a special kind of girl to not care, but also not act connivingly, when she finds out someone else thinks they suck. She might say she doesn’t care and she might act like it, but often there’s a mean girl inside of her plotting to show a bitch what’s what. This is Roxy.
Don’t: Be completely honest. Whitney tells Roxy that Kelly didn’t want her to go to the Glamour meeting with her because she’s basically an embarrassment to Whitney. Whitney then says she doesn’t care and wants her there anyway. What is Roxy supposed to do with this information? Be the most raw version of herself and (hopefully) show Kelly she’s wrong.

Lesson 5: Talking to reporters.
Don’t: Let people who can’t even show up to work talk to “Page Six” alone. Olivia finds herself talking to Neel Shah from “Page Six” at the Bergdorf party. One never knows what “Page Six” might say about her, so she must be careful. “Page Six” isn’t some fashion rag — it’s not always going to shower everyone with butterflies and rainbows. Joe rushes to Olivia’s side to help her answer basic questions like, “So what are you doing for Elle.com?”
Do: Try to not let the incompetent employee feel that incompetent. After Neel leaves, Joe makes Olivia feel like she did great with the little interview, even though he did the interview. “I think he was actually a little bit smitten with you!” Joe tells her. Oh, he is so nice and positive it almost makes us want to be better, more smiley people. Almost.

Lesson 6: Being a good sidekick.
Do: Remember you are the first mate, not ship captain. Whitney is at Glamour styling her skirt and wishes Roxy was there to help her. Finally, Roxy arrives and starts pulling things for the look. However, the look she comes up with, while great for Roxy personally, is obviously too edgy for Glamour and they reject it. (It might have worked better at Elle.) When Whitney expresses doubt, Roxy even has the gumption to say, “Uh-oh, Mom’s giving me a little attitude.” Which is just rude. If it weren’t for Whitney, she wouldn’t be on TV at all!
Do: Show up on time. Roxy’s styling gaff wouldn’t have looked so bad if she wasn’t so late to the session. She’s supposed to help Whitney, not make Whitney look like she can’t even pick out an assistant. After all, she who can’t pick out an assistant will never be able to pick out a good necklace. Or something.

Lesson 7: Keeping sidekicks in check.
Do: Let a wiser woman teach her a lesson. Sometimes when Kelly sums up the world, she really nails it. Like in Kell on Earth when she exclaimed that we are all hookers, selling our bodies and souls to our employers, friends, the Man, etc. She gives Whitney great coaching in the beginning of the episode about dealing with Glamour, and tells her she shouldn’t bring Roxy because she’s “not Glamour.” After word gets back to Kelly that Roxy described one of Whitney’s skirts as “hooker,” Kelly tells both Whitney and Roxy, “This business is made up of freaks and followers. And I’m totally a freak, so if you want to be a freak, that’s great, but you pay the price. So good luck.” She then dismisses Roxy and tells Whitney, “We’ve established today that she’s a freak. So don’t bring her non-freaky places.” This is genius independent of Whitney, even if Kelly rehearsed it in her head a million times before saying it aloud. But it's that much more genius because finally, Kelly has put things into terms Whitney can understand.
Do: Stand up for yourself. After Kelly’s freak lecture, Whitney returns to her desk and tells Roxy she overstepped her boundaries at the Glamour meeting. So far this season she’s told Olivia that she’s a bitch to her face and Roxy that she’s ridiculous. Kelly may finally be rubbing off on her!