For some silly/stupid reason, when Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle came out at the same time, I felt like I had to choose one or the other. I chose Cashmere. (Similarly, as a kid I thought I couldn’t like Star Wars because I was already loyal to Star Trek.) Now, having watched most of Lipstick, I think I would make the same choice between the two — but if I could REALLY do it over, I would probably just watch them both.
Note: The main reason I decided to give Lipstick a chance is that I fell in love with Kim Raver on Grey’s Anatomy.
Initially I was inclined to dismiss the show and the characters. In the pilot, we see 3 different versions of the same chick lit trope: beautiful, successful woman struggling to “have it all.” That’s not a bad theme, but dressing it up in different outfits doesn’t make it any more original. Plus there’s the steamy affair, the billionaire hero, and the perfect, self-sacrificing, stay-at-home dad/husband. Trope trope trope.
Then I kept watching. And the tropes melted away, transforming into real women with real problems.
Well, Nico and Wendy did, anyway. Victory remained a mostly superficial, rom-commy kind of character. She asks once or twice, “Why do you guys always treat me like the baby sister who can’t take care of herself?” Uh, because you are.
Funny enough, I identify most with Victory and Wendy, even though Nico (Kim Raver) is my favorite. In part because Victory is played by Lindsay Price, a fellow halfie, and in part because her character is creative/artistic. With Wendy, it’s because her home life is what keeps her grounded — a stable family matters to her, and to me.
Nico gets the most compelling and nuanced stories, though — from her affair, to her husband’s affair, to the baby, to her brother’s legal troubles, to the fertility stuff. The details are far out of the realm of my reality, but the writing and acting got me to identify.
Sidebar: I like how the elevators at Nico’s office occasionally echo the elevators in Grey’s Anatomy. Awkward tension, secret kissing, sliding doors hiding and revealing all sorts of things.
The first season was better than the second, but ultimately I enjoyed the whole series.
Also, I have to give Season 2 credit for developing the male characters. Wendy’s husband Shane was by far my favorite, especially since I liked him already from Big Shots, where he played such a different type of guy. Nico’s boytoy Kirby sure was easy on the eyes — and the heart. Joe was… well, Joe was every little girl’s dream, right? The white knight riding in on his private jet? But I guess I grew out of that. The charm of being repeatedly saved by a romantic billionaire didn’t quite work for me. Nor for the actor who had to portray it, apparently. Andrew McCarthy (who I loved in The Joy Luck Club) seemed incapable of making anything other than his furrowed-brow grouchy face. It would have been nice to see how his character handled the change in fortune introduced at the end of Season 2.
Someone who was NOT grumpy: Rodrigo.
While Lipstick outlasted Cashmere, unfortunately it still didn’t get a clean end. The finale was clearly spinning up some new threads to carry into Season 3, and then boom: cheesy montage of happily ever after moments.
Last random note: At first I hated the song in the opening credits, but by early in the second season, I had fallen in love with it. Now I sometimes find myself singing it randomly.