Whitney has been such a victim of men in the past. We’ve watched, cringing from behind our throw pillows as Jay elbowed his way into her apartment because it was easier than subletting something else for a few weeks before his band went on tour, even though he planned to dump her. Freddie Fackelmayer forced her onto a date with his dad in what was history’s most awkward date — until Whit found herself on a blind date with a mean gay man a few episodes later. But this season she’d hardly had any male interaction until last night’s episode, when she returned to the species of man that got her into trouble in the first place on this show: foreigners.
Every new young lady to New York delights in its veritable model U.N. of a dating pool, and those who can’t go back to Americans after having had Men With Accents always find themselves in the most trouble. As fun as sweet nothings in broken English are, MWAs too often either plan on returning to their faraway homelands or insult your American social customs and tap water. But Whitney is not about to get played again. She’s ready to do some playing of her own! And so she tries to use the French photographer from her Rue La La shoot, to get him to shoot her look book for free. Oh, using men. It’s so grown-up — so New York. Welcome home, Whit! And now this week’s lessons.
Lesson 1: Freeloading.
Do: Use the people on the periphery of your social circle before they get too close. Whitney and Roxy begin the episode by looking for inspiration for Whitney’s look book. Whitney needs a photographer to shoot it and tells Roxy the photographer from the Rue La La shoot asked her to drinks. “He was this French guy who’s actually a war photographer,” Whitney says, clearly impressed and hoping that if she gets him to do her a favor she’ll at least genuinely want to date him, too. “I should ask him to shoot my look book,” she adds, bringing us back to her career before we get our hopes up of viewing another awkward Whitney Port romance. She’s so business-minded this season. Dry spell, shmy spell.
Don’t: Compromise the freeloading potential because Kelly Cutrone suggests otherwise. “All girls should have an affair with a French guy,” Kelly tells Whitney. “It’s a great way to learn the language and it’s a great way to get banged.” But it wouldn’t be freeloading in its purest form if Whitney slept with the guy. Also, all girls should not have an affair with a French guy. They’re romantic at first, but then get selfish and snobby, and sleep around. The Spanish, on the other hand …
Lesson 2: Dressing for a date.
Don’t: Wear something too sparkly. Whitney wears a giant, super-glittery striped silver sweatshirt out on her date with the Frenchman. It’s not sexy, it just looks like something Beyoncé would wear lounging around the house when there were no cameras around. But it’s so sparkly for a getting-to-know-someone situation it makes us think that she has been waiting for an excuse to wear it for ages.
Don’t: Wear something slutty. We give Whitney props for going for a crewneck even though she intends to try to seduce the guy into doing free things for her.
Lesson 3: Becoming a useful part of the organization that employs you.
Don’t: Do nothing but play with jewelry. Magazines do not employ people because the only thing they can do well is pick out jewelry. Is picking out jewelry even something one can be great at? It’s picking out jewelry. Erin tells Joe, who thinks this is a spectacular strength of Olivia’s, that picking out a necklace is not enough. And she’s right.
Do: Go to work and at least pretend you do things there. When Erin and Joe go to L.A. for the Fergie shoot, Olivia doesn’t even go to work — she goes out to lunch. But it’s not like we can expect her to know this gossip will work its way back to Joe and Erin, since she’s never worked in an office, will never have to work in an office, and will never know how gossipy they are.
Lesson 4: Making a date you intend to use feel special.
Do: Enthuse over his motorcycle. Of course the Frenchman picks Whitney up on his motorcycle and just happens to have an extra helmet for her. This is so not Whitney’s style, and we can tell the last thing she wants to do is throw her life and young fashion-design career to the wind because she just wanted to get her look book shot for free! But she plays it off very well and gets on the bike with him. It’s just like Sex and the City when Berger picked up Carrie!!!!! But unlike Carrie, Whitney has the opposite — the sexy — reaction: “I liked when you go fast.” And that ought to, in his mind, make up for her crewneck.
Don’t: Cringe at his war stories. Frenchman tells Whitney about the time he was in Ethiopia in a famine with no food or water and had to drink the water from the pouch he cut out of a camel. Whitney wrinkles her nose and chugs her wine. Doesn’t our French friend know? No one’s allowed to say anything interesting on this show!
Lesson 5: Lunch dates with co-workers.
Do: Have them somewhere lunch-y. You know, with crowds and an overpriced turkey sandwich on the menu. The lunch Olivia has with Elle’s new fashion director, Alexis Bryan Morgan, who is finally getting press thanks to this show, looks like a romantic dinner from an 80-year-old movie. We expected them to fondle each other’s wrists from across the table while looking deeply into each other’s eyes as their fancy foam-garnished food gets even colder at their elbows. This pretty much happened when they rejoiced over their vintage Cartier.
Don’t: Make up talents you have. Apparently Alexis and Olivia are friends. “I was thrilled when I found out you were coming in. I was like yay I have my girlfriend!” Olivia tells Alexis. Fine sucking up, but then she talks about how she picked out a RING for Fergie’s cover shoot. “I know so much about vintage jewelry and costume jewelry and I was so fortunate to be educated at such a young age,” Olivia says. She may as well say, “I was so fortunate to be born into money.” If she’s such an expert she should work at an auction house.
Lesson 6: Using a man.
Don’t: Think you have to sleep with him because Roxy Olin and Kelly Cutrone told you that you would have to. When the look book shoot rolls around, Whitney has decided that the Frenchman isn’t hot enough for her and that she doesn’t want to sleep with him. “Is he aware that you just want to be friends with him? Have you told him that?” Kelly asks. No, she hasn’t, because if he knew that, why would he shoot her look book for free? But then again, he might be dense enough — like so many of them are — to think that even if she had told him she just wanted to be friends he could get her into bed anyway.
Don’t: Accept more dates than are truly necessary. Frenchman asks Whitney to drinks again during the shoot. She says she has “little to no time” for a “social life” and adds that she just wants to “keep it professional.” She must have really found that Ethiopian camel story disgusting.
Lesson 7: Choosing non-intimidating magazine covers.
Do: Go with something classic. Joe reveals that focus groups chose Fergie in a green Burberry dress for her Elle cover. Someone sneers to Olivia that there’s no jewelry on the cover. She looks pissed while Erin makes one of her signature smug faces at the other end of the conference table.
Don’t: Go with Fergie in high-waisted bootie shorts and a bra. Looking at that just made us feel uncomfortable.