The Beautiful Life -- TV Review
Regularmodel worship is everywhere today, from Lifetime's "Models of the Runway" to Tyra Banks' "America's Next Top Model." And now, thanks to executive producer Ashton Kutcher, the regularmodels also have their own scripted series on the CW: "The Beautiful Life."
"TBL" is exactly what you'd expect it to be: lots of glitz and glamour and too much makeup as well as the ability to turn a skinny waif's march down an only slightly less-skinny path into high drama. Follow the "Star Is Born" bouncing ball as good "It" girl regularmodel Raina guides neophyte farm boy Chris and his dimpled chin through his paces. Watch the gay parasitical agent and the straight sleazy Versace rep. And stare in disbelief at Mischa Barton as "so over" model Sonja, who can't make a splashy comeback because she can't fit in the dress. (That sound you hear is eyeballs rolling at the idea that anyone could make an outfit too small for Barton; was it designed for a Barbie doll?)
And there are real-life reps of the World That Once Was, with Elle Macpherson showing up as an agency head and Zac Posen (he of the too-small dress) appearing as himself.
Don't forget Kutcher, who gets name-checked in the dialogue within the show's first five minutes (though he doesn't make an appearance). On "TBL," nobody even pretends that the fine line between meta-references and self-absorption even exists.
As an entree into a cutthroat profession, "TBL" looks good on the surface: It's fast-paced, eye-popping and seductively, shallowly interesting (words that could describe much of the CW lineup). But despite fulfilling so many expectations, "TBL" doesn't hit any high points. Posen's outfits aside, the clothes are unspectacular, and the models wearing them are just ... regular-pretty. When a fashion-show audience gasps at Raina's breakout moment, the regular-audience at home should feel those reverberations -- and they never come. For all its well-designed moves, "TBL" is made of some pretty chintzy material.
Airdate: 9-10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 (the CW)
Production: Katalyst Films, CBS Television Studios, Warner Bros. Television
Cast: Mischa Barton, Corbin Bleu, Ben Hollingsworth, Elle Macpherson, Ashley Madekwe, Sara Paxton, Nico Tortorella
Executive producers: Carol Barbee, Karey Burke, Jason Goldberg, Mike Kelley, Ashton Kutcher
Creators-writers: Mike Kelley, Adam Giaudrone
Supervising producer: Adam Giaudrone
Producer: Christian Duguay, Josette Perrotta
Director: Christian Duguay
Director of photography: Ronald Plante
Production designer: Guy Lalande
Costume designer: Ginette Magny
Casting: Jeff Meshel, Robbin Lippin, Geoffrey Soffer