Judge Brett Cullum finds himself in Manhattan with four over-dressed women bitching about jobs and sex. Deja vu!
Executive producers include Darren Star, who helped develop Sex And The City!
In the war for who would become the next Sex And The City, this show was a casualty. Cashmere Mafia brought a familiar combination of friends, fashion, Manhattan, and money to the small screen, but it was limited to only seven episodes before it got a cancellation notice from ABC. The show followed four women who have been friends since business school, and now at the peak of their careers seek to support each other as they try to "have it all" in New York City. The cast was extremely solid, including Lucy Liu (Kill Bill: Vol. 1) as Mia the publisher, Frances O'Connor (Artificial Intelligence: AI) playing Zoe, the former financial whiz, Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) creating Juliet, the head of a hotel company, and Bonnie Sommerville (Without a Paddle) as Caitlin, a vice president of a make-up company. Rarely have four screen actresses who have all been in big movies recently agreed to do a one hour drama/comedy on television, and everyone was expecting this to be a big hit. It was thought Cashmere Mafia's concentration on business would be more attractive than simply the "sordid sins and the sexy city" formula.
Part of the problem was timing, and ever changing plans of how ABC was going to use Cashmere Mafia. The original idea was to have it ready to go as a midseason replacement for the Dancing With the Stars results show, and the premiere was set for November 27 of 2007. Thanks to the infamous writers strike, the network got concerned about promotions and programming. They wanted to hold on to the series for a later premiere to launch when they were running out of new material, so Cashmere Mafia's first airing was delayed until January of 2008. The series was direct competition for Lipstick Jungle on NBC, which had the good fortune of having a stronger Sex And The City connection by being based on material by Candace Bushnell. The author had harsh words for executive producer Darren Star, claiming he "ripped her idea off" since the two shows had similar themes and ideas. But weren't they both ripping themselves off since the two had been instrumental in developing Sex And the City? Thirteen episodes of Cashmere Mafia were ordered, but the strike meant only seven were produced for broadcast.
Cashmere Mafia has an intriguing setup, promising much more concentration on business problems than any of the previous shows it was based on. There is also this Mafia allegory where the women act like The Sopranos in dresses, but even that never panned out. The biggest problem is you had a great cast but they were put in lukewarm plots. The main theme was about how these women sacrificed family bliss to make it big, and risked alienating husbands and kids along the way. Affairs are discovered, engagements broken over promotions, and even one Mafia member questions her sexuality. Still, the whole thing had a "been there and done that" quality that failed to spark much interest. At seven episodes, it's hard to tell if they could have caught their stride, and we'll never get to see more than what's here on the "complete series" DVD.
Cashmere Mafia: The Complete Series is a two disc collection that includes all seven episodes and offers four promotional featurettes to accompany them. Each short segment takes on a two minute topic of the plot, and includes interviews with the actress starring in that story: "Revenge Sex," "Move In or Out," "Kiss My Glass Ceiling," and "Pick a Team, Any Team." Transfers are great thanks to an HD broadcast run, and the sound and picture are topnotch like most modern television series. If you like pretty boys and girls in fashionable get-ups trotting through New York, you'll see them all in remarkable clarity. Sound design is dialogue centric, but there are some nice ambient city sounds to make the environment richer. The production values are high, and the only criticism would be the constant overuse of a tinkly comical score even over dramatic scenes.
Fans of Sex and the City should find themselves in familiar territory, and it's worth a look if you like high fashion drama comedy with four girls in Manhattan. Lucy Liu looks good, and the entire cast handled their "business and juggling it with a personal life" stories very well. Perhaps the show could have found its footing had it been allowed to develop and gotten deeper than all this surface skimming. What's here seems too stereotypical to make Cashmere Mafia standout when compared to the competition, but there are some fun moments to makeup for the slight substance it offers. This one's worth a look if you're pining for girl talk and Manhattan, or a big fan of Lucy Liu.
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