Wednesday, September 16, 2009

TV RECAP: "The Beautiful Life: TBL" - Season 1 - Episode 1

Allow me to introduce you to the most beautiful people in New York. Ashton Kutcher's new series gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the modeling world, and it's just as juicy and soul-crushing as you'd imagine. While everyone is beautiful, as the title suggests, they're not all carbon copies. There's the model (Jordan Woolley from "As the World Turns") who sells drugs because male mannequins don't make as much money as female ones, there's the former child model (Corbin Bleu from High School Musical) who's trying to make it big so that he can transition into music, and then there are the ones to watch:


Raina (Sara Paxton) is a 16-year-old model who represents the overnight sensation. One dress, one runway, one show can make you or break you. She worked the runway for the first time, caught Zac Posen's eye, and scored the opportunity to wear his final dress, which is like the signature piece of every designer's show. Things are moving fast for her and her name is on the tip of everyone's tongue, but she hasn't let it go to her head yet. When she sees a floundering newbie, she graciously helps them through their first go-see, their first portfolio photo shoot, and even their first night all alone in the Big Apple. When she had a wide open opportunity to steal an exclusive modeling job for a Versace ad campaign right from under veteran model Sonja (Mischa Barton from "The O.C."), she not only passed, but blackmailed the booker, who has a thing for feeling up models, and got Sonja the job. Why? "She needed this one." In spite of her surroundings, she's managed to keep her head on straight. It turns out she doesn't need her over-protective brother Alex (Billy Magnussen from "As the World Turns") or her seriously rich, connected, and corrupt father, who has yet to have been identified. However, I'm sure once her real identity hits the rags, and the pressures to prove herself to her dad begin to weigh on her, she'll stumble into the same pitfalls as Sonja did.

Chris (Ben Hollingsworth) is an Iowa farm boy, who spontaneously pursues a modeling career against his father's wishes while on a family vacation to New York. (His life is supposed to thinly mirror Ashton Kutcher's.) Needless to say, he's over his head and he doesn't understand the way the "big city folks" do things. But with Raina by his side, he could become the next big thing. Of course, falling for her could get in the way of that. Right now, she sees him as the golden boy-next-door. After a few months in the business though, he might turn into someone neither she nor his family can recognize.


Sonja is a top model who has to claw her way back up to the top after a hiatus that has the paps nipping at her heels and the press buzzing about her fleeting bankability. I thought the secret would remain a secret for a few more episodes, but it turns out the real secret isn't that she's hiding a beautiful baby girl, but who the father is. I doubt it's anyone we've already been introduced to, and I hope it's someone substantial...for dramatic effect of course. I'm not sure if she's hiding the birth because most model moms are forced into early retirement, unless they have their own hustle like Heidi Klum, or if it's because of the father's identity. Either way, she needs to reestablish her status, so no one can knock her about getting knocked up and so she can support her new baby. That means pulling stunts like stealing a dress she wants to wear in an ad campaign and rocking it to a club where the guy who decides which model gets the ad can see how good she looks in it.


Marissa (Ashley Madekwe from "Secret Diary of a Call Girl") is Raina's right-hand. She gives her guidance and clues her in on all the inside industry info. She's to Raina what Raina is to Chris. Except for one very big difference. I guess you could say that they are constantly competing against each other for the same jobs, but each understands that if they want to succeed, they'll have to do what it takes in spite of their friendship. Still, something tells me that Marissa might just play dirty to get what she wants.

Cole (Nico Tortorella from "Make It or Break It") is the uber confident male model who has mastered the industry and behaves accordingly. He may not have an entourage, his own suite, and flogs of paparazzi following him, but he gets his own room in a model hostel, red carpet photographers know him by name, and he can talk back to anyone he wants. He's where all the up-and-coming models want to be, which makes Chris his main competition. Unlike Marissa, he hasn't been too kind in showing him the ropes, but he did give him a heads up about getting too chummy with Simon (Dusan Dukin), the guy who discovered him. (Apparently, they don't have gaydar in Iowa.) Cole has to keep himself one step ahead of Chris, otherwise he might steal the spotlight completely.

Overall, the show is pretty good. But I look forward to seeing less obvious storylines about the modeling world. I don't know about you, but I already knew that they were into drugs, drinking, partying, communal living, whoring themselves out for a job, and being generally catty towards each other. I prefer moments like when Chris was ordered to take off his shirt and pants in the middle of an office as his audition, since he didn't have a portfolio, or when the models were secretly snickering at the design director's photo shoot vision, which was bizarro, or when Raina talked Chris through his first photo shoot to get a natural facial expression out of him, and when a designer had to switch models mid-show because of a fitting issue. Keep that up, tease some more scandal, and flaunt the couture, and you've got yourself a decent shot of at least being a next-day Twitter topic.


  1. what r the first two songs on the start of the show????????? I've been trying to look for them but I need help!!!!!!!!!

  2. is cole sonias babys father?