'My Fab 40th': TV Review

Courtesy of Bravo
Still think your birthday is totally a big deal? This show is for you.

People go all out to celebrate the big 4-0 in Bravo's new reality series. The rich really are different from you and me.

If nothing else My Fab 40th has given me two new life goals:

1) Figure out how to become a "lifestyle architect" and 2) Come up with ways to work the word "fierce" into any and all conversations.

People are pretty much divided into two groups — those who stop celebrating their birthdays with big bashes after they turn 21 and those who don’t. My Fab 40th, a middle-age version of MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, is for those who still think the world should stop every time another year passes.

In the premiere, former sorority sisters Francine Sanchez and Julie Marcus-Downs throw themselves a joint birthday party with the help of party planner —  I’m sorry, I mean lifestyle architect, Sarina May. They want their "Forty, Fierce and Fabulous" party to be a "classy, down-and-dirty" affair. May promises the ladies a private jet to fly them from their hometown of Las Vegas to Laguna Beach where the party is being held. May also tells them she can get Train to sing "Hey, Soul Sister" for them and that they can arrive at their party in matching Ferraris. "You know I can make things happen," she smugly tells the ladies which pretty much guarantees that things won’t go according to plan.

May is fond of saying things like "The artistic level of this is so fierce" and "You’re going to look fierce." She acts like a character Maya Rudolph would have played on Saturday Night Live. I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up with her own show.

To their credit, Sanchez and Marcus-Downs seem to have missed the memo that all women on Bravo reality shows should name-call, pull hair and flip tables. These ladies are actually nice to each other.  For Marcus-Downs the party is a chance to start fresh after the end of her marriage. "This is my year to re-brand myself," she says.

They refuse to fight when they want different cakes or when they’re told the private jet can’t fit all of them. Even when Marcus-Downs forgets the cake, Sanchez refuses to get angry. "We’re in Laguna Beach. It’s time to party," she tells her friend. This makes for a lovely friendship. They seem like really nice people. I probably would want to go to their birthday party. That’s great for them but doesn’t make for the most riveting television and leaves the producers scrambling to create drama where there is none. The biggest angst comes when Marcus-Downs doesn’t like the way her breasts look in her dress.

The cost of the party is eye-popping. Five thousand for invitations.  Another $15,000 for the venue and $6,500 for aerial bartenders. May’s fee is $25,000.  It all adds up. We’re told the final cost of the party is $165,625 which is, of course, preposterous. The women are on the board of the Children’s Heart Foundation of Nevada, a cause that is personal to them. They both have children with heart issues. They want a "very special space" at the party for people to make donations. The party guest raise $85,000 for the foundation, an impressive amount but still about half of what the party costs.

The biggest issue with the show is that it doesn’t necessarily ring true. The two women seem to be completely uninvolved with the planning of their big soiree. They’ve turned everything over to May. I don’t care how much money you have, you probably don’t want to spend $2,500 on an opera singer you didn’t want and another $2,500 on a sitar player you think is weird. The point was probably to show how wacky May is and to give the women a reason to be angry. However Sanchez and Marcus-Downs don’t take the bait.

I guess it’s their party and they’ll buy if they want to.

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