Universal // 2008 // 556 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Tamika Adair (Retired) // May 21st, 2009
It's a jungle out there. Dress accordingly.
In Season Two of Lipstick Jungle, fans will revisit the older, richer and more powerful stepsisters of Sex and the City. With equal drama and none of the spunk, this glamorous season continues where it left off in the stylish but clichéd lives of three of the most influential women walking the streets of Manhattan.
Three 40-something rich, fashionable media moguls resume juggling their high-octane jobs and fragile love lives this season.
Wendy Healy (Brooke Shields, The Blue Lagoon), the studio chief of Parador Pictures, trades rounds with her horny husband, who needs constant reaffirmation of his usefulness as a provider, her budding teenager, who is inching away from the womb, and her job, which constantly throws her into the ring with many prowling lions.
Nico Reilly (Kim Raver, Night at the Museum), the editor of Bonfire magazine, is torn between life with her uninterested husband and her growing affection for her handsome boy toy. Not only that, she has to deal with a conniving male rival and a pompous boss that wants her to ignore her biological clock if she is to climb the ladder of success any further.
In contrast, Victory Ford's (Lindsay Price, Coupling) semi-fabulous career is even less secure than her two chic friends. After suffering a less-than-victory last season at Fashion Week, Victory has been trying desperately to reclaim her fame and position as the latest it-designer. Her courtship with a billionaire financier comes to a head when she finds out that he's rescued her fading business as the primary investor.
Since it's high on drama and low on comedy, calling Lipstick Jungle a dramedy is a bit of a hopeful stretch. Struggling to pick up the slack where Sex and the City left off, I'd hate to compare Lipstick Jungle to its creator's magnus opus, but it's inevitable since their premises are so similar. It's a shame that Darren Star and Candace Bushnell couldn't see eye to eye on collaborating on a successful project to follow Sex and the City with. Instead, they both got saddled with two competing sanitized versions that are too similar to make a difference with critics or fans.
The biggest differences between SATC and Lipstick Jungle, is that SATC had the biting wit of Carrie Bradshaw and the naughty sarcasm of Samantha Jones to serve as comic relief, and the endlessly interesting topic of sex to pad its storylines. Through its plot and characters, SATC provided an intimate portrait of the lives of four women.
Lipstick Jungle only follows the exploits of three women who often choose their ambition over their relationships. This gives Lipstick Jungle a frigid and inhibited feeling that proves that having it all is a fallacy since these women clearly don't. I'm not saying that the drama isn't compelling. Drama is like a car accident. You can't help but stand by and watch until it's over. But, it's cheap fodder disguised as interesting television. Maybe if Starr and Bushnell could have mended their severed ties, they could have saved this show from becoming another nonexistent show, since it has recently been cancelled.
The characters in this series are overdressed Barbie dolls that feign emotion by overdramatizing every blow they take. There's an awful lot of emoting going on and the only one that comes off as somewhat authentic is Kim Raver as Nico. She has an ethereal beauty and sensitivity that transcend even the worst script. Raver has several touching moments that give her character an affecting depth that Shields and Price can't seem to muster yet.
My biggest problem with the women portrayed is that I can't imagine knowing any of them. Brooke Shields, as the "nice" film mogul who risks her job daily for her family, friends and passion projects, is a little far-fetched. She would have been eaten alive and spat out by her lesser counterparts a long time ago, if she were real. Here, she comes off as purely lucky because she's always playing fast and loose and never has a back-up plan. On the other hand, Victory Ford, who whines about having her boyfriend "own" her, must not realize how good she has it to have a solid investor that gives her a free reign to spend his money as she sees fit in support of her business.
Honestly, I would become more invested in their plights if they were more accessible and genuine. It also wouldn't hurt if they survived their problems with a little more of the charm and bravado that we came to expect from the SATC gang. And God forbid, spice it up a bit with a little humor. This series has more tragedy (and on many levels) than Macbeth, except that not everyone dies. Well, at least one person does.
Although Lipstick Jungle tries a little too hard to imitate the perfection that was Sex and the City, it offers actresses that bring more maturity to roles that we weren't used to before. The refreshing thing is that Lipstick Jungle has legitimate villains that offer a lot of suspense, which Sex and the City didn't have very much of.
The wardrobe may prove to be less imaginative and come-hither than the fashion choices of SATC's stylist, Patricia Field, but it still whets my appetite since I am of the "less is more" sensibility. I get to appreciate the clothes even more because of the impeccable color saturation and rich textures that is presented in this widescreen transfer. The surround sound mix may be nice, but it is the music that caught my ear the most. Tracks by all of my latest favorites are included such as Sara Barielles, Adele, Lalah Hathaway, Leona Lewis, Mozella, Natasha Beningfield and Bitter:Sweet, who conjured up the luscious theme song, "The Bomb."
The jungle isn't perfect, but at least it looks and sounds great.
We already know the forecast to this show's dismal future, so it's safe to say that there won't be a return to Lipstick Jungle. If you've fallen for the magnificent three, you'll have to settle for this second and last season. It would have been great if the producers had included bonus features, but maybe it's better this way. Bushnell probably wants to avoid explaining how the collapse of her most valuable partnership with Starr contributed to the obvious shortcomings of her biggest venture since Sex and the City. Regardless, no one gets their happy ending, no matter how far they chase after it in stilettos.
Guilty of trying to be too powerful in the city with less sex, which translates into three lackluster hellcats in expensive Prada.
Review content copyright © 2009 Tamika Adair; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 556 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated