Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stylista - 1x05 "It's All About Who You Know"

Proof that I'll watch anything.

First of all, I expected Stylista to be a trampier reality version of The Devil Wears Prada, but instead I can't stop watching a reality competition with the worst, most detestable cast I've seen in a long time. In descending order of loathsomeness:

She's a 22-year-old boutique owner, which smells like mom and dad are loaded and have spoiled Princess with her own store/life, which seemingly manifests in Megan's imperiousness. She combines narcissistic egotism with a fickle persecution complex, repeatedly asserting that only she deserves to win, but rather than compete on merits, Megan resorts to strategizing that's simultaneously heavy-handed and feeble. In the beginning of the season, she teamed her strongest competition (Ashlie) with the weakest competitor (Kate), hoping that the latter would drag down the former in a blaze of ineptitude. How Ashlie would be eliminated when she was on the same team as CWL (Consensus Weakest Link) Kate -- a Zen koan. When this master plan somehow failed, she acted like nothing less than Fate itself conspired to thwart her -- if Megan can't effect a certain result, then no one can. Ever since then, she's more inclined to viciously insult Kate rather than prove she has what it takes to etc.
Hate Rating: Forced gender reassignment surgery so that I can kick her in the balls

His witless barbarity -- e.g. throwing two fists in the air and yelling "YES!" when a catfight was threatening -- might be a more voyeuristic and ironized hoot, but his banal mediocrity (constantly reiterating that he'd be outraged if Kate outlasted him in the competition, when he's so far misspelled names and omitted credits) makes me want to punch this social excrement in the throat.
Hate Rating: One million throat punches

After CWL Kate avoided elimination for about the fourth time, Ashlie broke down into hysterical tears, screaming that she didn't "understand anything anymore!" and having to be restrained. Laughably pathetic.
Hate Rating: Reading Of Grammatology

An enigma wrapped in breast implants and lip collagen. Kate started off as the underdog, as everyone took one look at her unavoidable heaving embonpoint and heard her ditzy little girl voice and promptly dismissed her. Yet, along the way, she's evinced preternaturally sharp editorial and fashion instincts (nailing the outréness of a spread on metallics, noting the repetitiveness of the wood-paneled backgrounds in a page of party photos) even as her teammates marginalized her, which inevitably led to a biosphere of interpersonal tension and recriminations; team dismisses her opinions as worthless in the midst of challenges, boss lady Anne Slowey eventually validates those very opinions, Kate pipes up during elimination panels, team accuses her of throwing them under the bus. Naturally, she's been painted into a confrontational corner -- the house talks constantly about her, she's compelled to defend herself, and fights become unavoidable. Then, maybe as a result of all the recriminations, she struggles to integrate her divergent opinions with the rest of her team, or maybe she just doesn't get along well with others. Notably, though, the one time someone didn't underestimate her, Kate failed spectacularly, preferring to quit preparations the night before a challenge, and then investing her most of her attention on checking her lip gloss during the challenge. Also, when she called her mother for moral support, describing how the entire cast was abusing her, her mother told her to come home without further delay. Some mom.
Hate Rating: Motorboatin'

The token regular girl, though "regular" in Stylista context dovetails with obese, which would normally be of no consequence, but that Danielle pointedly defended her weight when a challenge involved raiding the Elle closet (full of size 2s and 0s) by saying that she's at peace with her body image (fine, if she actually believes it) because she's at a normal, healthy weight (not quite).
Hate Rating: Fatcamp

Here we depart from my polemics, as I'm completely undone by Johanna. She's a military analyst (despite my liberal bonafides, my inner/outer geek is geeked out) who speaks Chinese (definitely with a foreign accent, but I bet her vocabulary's heh heh bigger than mine), who is unusually expressive for a human, professional enough to try to avoid the nightly Kate dramas, and heady enough to over-intellectualize her tasks (an unironically appealing trait)(instead of trying to absorb all 85 names, she and her two teammates should have each taken half of the names so that they'd have less memorize while still maintaining redundancy!). Despite her grown-up demeanor, Johanna still has child-like moments, such as when she was completely undone by the opening of the Elle closet, at which point she could barely speak.
Infatuation Rating: I'll be your Sugar Daddy

Indie rating: Bob Dylan - "Visions of Johanna"


momo said...

I saw an early episode in which one contestant had a nasty anxiety attack. They mercilessly kept the camera rolling through the whole godawful thing. Since I have a family member who has anxiety attacks, I know that when you are having one, you feel as if you are going to die, so I was pretty amazed that he would come back, and that he is trying to make it in a profession that is all about riding a wave of anxiety. Yesh.

My daughter has started to study Mandarin Chinese in high school. I am envious.

Leee said...

That's an important point, and I think it's a regrettably unavoidable and exploitative aspect of this sort of reality tv, i.e. the behind-the-scenes of a contrived competition, which creates/simulates narrative by chaining together a bunch of spectacles, some of which the show explicitly engineers, some of which results from people melting down. More simply, these shows think they thrive on human vulnerability (which is only true to a far lesser degree than they think).

I think I'm envious too of your daughter studying Chinese.