TV Reviews: Two extremely different reality shows to premiere
Anne Slowey with contestants on The CW's "Stylista"
A member of the Ski Patrol cruises down Blue Mountain near Bethlehem, Pa.
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Nowadays there are more varieties of reality shows that you can shake a TV remote at. There's the reality competition that involves true talent ("Project Runway"), the program that's more like a quiz show ("Deal or No Deal") and the character-driven docu-drama ("Deadliest Catch").
Add to the reality TV landscape "Stylista" (9 p.m. Wednesday, WPCW) and "Ski Patrol" (8 and 8:30 p.m. Monday, TruTV), two wildly different shows premiering this week.
- When: 9 p.m. Wednesday, The CW.
- Starring: Anne Slowey.
Think of this one as "Ugly Betty: The Reality Competition" with a cast populated by four Marcs, six Amandas and one Ugly Betty. The young contestants vying to become a junior editor at Elle magazine fancy themselves as hot, young fashionistas. One girl is even named Cologne. But then there's gape-mouthed Danielle, who understands that she does not fit the skinny girl mold.
On the one hand, kudos to producers for casting her; on the other hand, shame on them for setting her up to be a punchline for the mean girls.
But in the first two episodes of The CW's "Stylista" top mean girl Megan is more interested in bringing down another player, cleavage-baring Katie, as teams compete for the favor of snooty editrix Miranda Priestly, err, Anne Slowey, Elle's "fashion news director."
"I certainly don't want to be carrying somebody's coffee," scoffs Megan just before a competition requires her to carry Anne's iced skim latte.
Each week teams have to complete a page layout, which seems like a terrible way to judge which individual is the best hire for a magazine. Regardless of the show's artificiality -- it isn't even filmed in the real Elle offices but on a more fabulous set of what the Elle offices could look like -- "Stylista" is a guilty pleasure thanks to its cast of catfighting, bickering characters, including one who is hospitalized following a panic attack in episode two.
Still, "Stylista," from the producers of "America's Next Top Model," should do a more thorough job of informing viewers of the fashion terminology contestants are tested on (what exactly is "pin-tucking"?). And the awkwardly blatant product placement sticks out like a sore thumb. In the premiere, one judge tries to name drop to terrible effect: "[Insert name of retailer] has a wide range of clothing options and you have no problem finding a fabulous and affordable look there."
- When: 8 and 8:30 p.m. Monday, Tru TV.
Where "Stylista" looks slick, "Ski Patrol" slides by as routine and unpolished.
Although a docu-drama chronicling those who protect ski slopes seems like a natural reality TV fit, "Ski Patrol" nearly wipes out. Producers make little attempt to develop the ski patroller characters and the dramatic tension varies wildly from episode-to-episode.
TruTV filmed the first six episodes at Crystal Mountain in Washington state; the second six at Blue Mountain in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Of two back-to-back half-hour episodes that air Monday, the second offers more drama (avalanches, rule-breaking snowboarders) but fails to reveal the ultimate fate of a snowboarder who lands on his head and breaks four vertebrae.