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Sin City Rules: TV Review

Sin City Rules Screengrab - H 2012
TLC

The Bottom Line

Another incarnation of the "catty women" genre, this Vegas edition meets every expectation, for better or worse.

Airdate

10 p.m. Sunday, December 9 (TLC)

Producers  

Douglas Ross, Greg Stewart, Alex Baskin, Chaz Gray, Ross McCall
 

From the producers of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" comes a new reality series about Vegas women behaving badly.

What happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas, thanks to the new TLC series Sin City Rules, which follows five "powerful" women (ironic quotes necessary) who come together to bicker and brawl and reassure each other they are united in their strength before doing whatever possible to bring each other down.  

Each of the women fits easily into familiar personality tropes, like members of a manufactured pop act: there's the smart one (Jennifer), the cute one (Alicia), the bad girl (Lana), the shy one (Lori) and the one no one knows what to do with (Amy, though she is a terrible gossip who also loves talking about her mob hit-man father). 

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It will come as no surprise to anyone who watches Sin City Rules that the series is produced by Evolution Media, whose other credits include The Real Housewives franchises of Beverly Hills and Orange County. The style of having five or so women of a certain age and certain affluence attend endless, contrived social opportunities to soak themselves in alcohol and drama is not a groundbreaking formula, but Evolution's veteran producers (who have also worked on Top Chef, Auction Kings and Big Brother, among others) know it to be a winning one. 

Though Sin City Rules attempts to distinguish itself as "a docu-series that follows the powerful women who run Las Vegas," the truth is that only Jennifer and Lori seem to have actual professions that require their time (Jennifer is a multiple World Series of Poker winner, and Lori runs a cosmetics business), and neither seem particularly high-ranking in the Vegas business scene. How could anyone run anything when most of their time is spent meeting for coffee, having brunch and attending wine tastings in order to gossip about other women?

The fascination with watching "mean girls" tear each other apart is an unfortunate one, but what makes it so much worse in this case is that these are women who are of an age to know better. They aren't in high school or recent college grads who can maybe, generously, be forgiven for their immature, catty behavior -- these are women in their late thirties to fifties (if the rumors are to be believed) who seem to find joy in fighting like drunk club goers from The Jersey Shore. It's a damning portrayal of women and female relationships, which are reduced to nothing more than games of who can be ripped apart by the pack the fastest and most viciously.

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Speaking of women of a certain age, the first major insult lobbed at former entertainment reporter Alicia by Ukrainian tiger-woman Lana (who refers to herself as "God") was in regards to Alicia's plastic surgery. To paraphrase the saying: people in plastic houses shouldn't throw Botox needles. But it fits in with the theme; all of the women, at least as of the first two episodes of the eventual eight, are terribly superficial. In a way, though, they mirror perfectly Vegas' own false veneer.

Is Sin City Rules great TV? Of course not. Is it entertaining? Sure. Though the series seems to fit more readily into Bravo's reality wheelhouse, there's little doubt that Sin City Rules will be a popular show for TLC. It features ludicrously dressed women who attend shooting parties and laugh about guns like toys, host play dates for their monkeys, and engage in séances. The formula that the Real Housewives began is a reliable, if vapid one -- actual content and conversations are almost nonexistent; the show relies on music and dramatic cuts of shifting eyes and hair flips and the over-hyped "coming up next" segments to sustain it.

The show opens with one of the women in a voiceover saying of Vegas (which is barely featured), "it's a bar, a bachelor party, a strip club. But for me it's home." For fans of this unfortunate genre, the very same can be said of Sin City Rules, which delivers upon every expectation of its ilk.