Gallery Girls: TV Review
Framed by New York's art galleries, this docudrama features a catty clash of Millennial social sects.
Although Sex and the City is invoked early and often on the new Bravo series Gallery Girls, the show truly has more in common with HBO's more recent Girls. The seven featured girls share tangential (if occasionally tenuous) relationships to galleries and the New York art world, but primarily they are privileged post-college Millennials frustrated by the lack of creative opportunities and forever-long internships of a sluggish economy.
Classism is the most engaging dynamic in the pilot, which the show plays up as "Brooklyn versus Upper East Side social warfare," complete with a zooming map that illustrates the opposing locales. The Upper East Siders include the rich, loud, often-drunk Amy, who interns for Sharon Hurowitz, an art adviser to the wealthy. While the show feels honest in some ways (the cattiness seems natural instead of forced for television: When one girl snickers about another having lipstick on her teeth and her thong showing, well, it's true), there are some obviously contrived setups early on.
Rounding out the "rich girls" are Maggie, a pushover with a trust fund, and her co-intern at Eli Klein Fine Art, Liz, whose "I'm spoiled and make no apologies" candor is refreshing. Regarding Klein, she says to the cameras: "He's not going to be a problem for me. If he tries to boss me around, I'll just tell my dad."
On the other side are a trio of Brooklynites, two of whom recently partnered to open a gallery boutique. That these girls could open a successful business is hard to believe, and when one partner, ex-small-town girl Chantal, reveals herself as an increasingly manipulative person driven by whimsy ("If this doesn't work out in six months, I think I'll hire a raft to Cuba and just chill for a while"), their likelihood of success nosedives.
The gallery world is a perfect setting for a show that wants to thrive (like so much of Bravo's fare) on theatricalities ignited by alcohol-soaked social gatherings. The pilot is fun and engaging because of the simmering drama, and while it might at first appear to cloud the show's aim -- that is, to present what it's like for girls trying to forge careers in New York City -- that battle with cutthroat peers becomes a satisfying point of its own. The spirit of Gallery Girls might best be channeled by Chantal, who says of a dinner with the Upper East Siders: "I'd rather kill myself. And I need to think about my image."
Airdate: 10 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13 (Bravo)