Okay, I'm calling it

  • Oct. 7th, 2009 at 8:50 PM
crypto: (sarah looks ahead)
So it's only two episodes in to the new seasons, but I've seen enough: MTV's The City (watch online!) is now officially better than the show it spun off from, The Hills. How often does that happen?

The pared down structure of The City is surprisingly effective: they're telling two parallel stories about young women working their way up in the fashion industry.

Good girl Whitney works for Kelly Cutrone at her fashion/PR firm People's Revolution; she helps her old high school friend, ambitious semi-bad girl Roxy, get a job there, and drama ensues. Meanwhile spoiled rich girl Olivia Palermo gets a job at Elle Magazine thanks to Elle's creative director Joe Zee; she quickly clashes with Elle's career girl PR director Erin, with Joe Zee caught in the middle.

It's The Devil Wears Prada lite, with a dash of All About Eve for good measure. The thing about The Hills was always that, despite the workplace settings, it was hard to figure out what the jobs of the characters actually were, aside from occasional episodes that tasked them to a fashion shoot or club opening. Which maybe works for LA, but doesn't translate as well to the East Coast. This new careerist incarnation of The City gives the show its own identity, bringing it out of the shadow of The Hills, and feels much more true to New York in spirit than the first season, which focused more on the ups and downs of dating models.

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough is that on the show, Whitney's aspirations as a designer are openly acknowledged and woven into the narrative. In contrast, The Hills never acknowledged on screen Lauren Conrad's fashion line, or for that matter any of the characters' various outside ventures.

Congratulations, Whitney -- you're going to make it after all.*

* Glib allusions aside, I could totally see Kelly Cutrone saying, Lou Grant-style, "You've got spunk. I hate spunk!" In its own way, I could even argue (well, after a couple of drinks) that The City is the closest direct ancestor to the working woman motif of The Mary Tyler Moore Show currently airing on US television.