Last night, I tuned into CW's new model show The Beautiful Life hoping to gawk at the train wreck of Mischa Barton's return to primetime. What I found was worse than I could have imagined—it was actually good!
To be fair, Mischa—recently out of the crazy bin—is almost the worst part of this new soap, followed closely by Elle Macpherson (looking haggard and acting even worse), but the rest of it managed to be pretty and moody and different and fun! The first scene alone was awesome just for being visually interesting and advancing the action of an all-out model war without being hammy or heavy-handed. Don't get us wrong, it's no Mad Men or The Wire, but the premiere far outdid the new Melrose Place.
Life (sorry, CW, no matter how hard you try, we are not going to let TBL happen) is a bit like Gossip Girl for a slightly older crowd, but with less money and more drugs. Barton plays Sonja, a super model who is on her way out thanks to taking a few months off (we find out later that she ran off to have a baby). Her spotlight is stolen in the first scene by Raina, who also steals the heart of Chris, an Iowa farm boy who gets discovered by a smarmy model agent while on vacation in New York. Chris faces off against Cole, a nasty little model who doesn't want to be unseated as the king of all Blue Steel. Also with the blues,High School Musical's Corbin Bleu is Isaac, a former child model who wants to be a DJ but settles for being a gigolo (three very stable career choices there, Isaac) and Marissa is just hot and British. They all live together in a model house, except Sonja who has money of her own.
But this was a great first episode, quickly establishing the characters and their motives, cluing us in on the secrets to come, engaging in some bitchy duplicity, and having enough sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll to make us come back. Also, it's shot in a great style, that is full of the glamorous darkness that isn't often found outside of nightclubs and fashion magazines.
The show got about 1.5 million viewers which isn't too shabby for the CW, but it lost half of it's America's Next Top Model lead in. Did anyone else check it out? Should we start giving this thing the full recap treatment, or just leave it by the wayside as another fun trifle that can't keep our attention for that long (we're looking at you new 90210)?