agents of change

Fashion Industry-Themed Reality TV Just Got Remodeled

Last night saw the premiere of the CW Network’s new show about modeling, Remodeled, a neat segue from the final episode of the disappointingly lackluster Scouted one night earlier. Does it, in turn, stand a chance of succeeding where so many other shows following the modeling industry have failed? We hope so, really, and here’s why:

For starters, there are fun characters. Remodeled follows renowned model booker Paul Fisher and his new venture, a vast network of small-town agencies he hopes will unearth lots of new, all-American fashion models. It’s called, simply enough, the Network. It seems like a sensible enough plan, except — and this is a spoiler —  lots of the agencies in Paul’s network are amateurish and badly run! Of course, this sort of “break you down to build you up” story line is quintessential reality TV, so Paul has tasked himself with “making over” the businesses he sees as slacking off, which is a process that will involve him shouting a lot and talking with his hands. Also, he’s bringing his wonderfully snarky, lisping assistant Joseph with him. (Really, it just seems like Paul enjoys announcing loudly, “Joseph, go get my car.”)

It’s a simple construct: The big, fashionable fishes sent each week to a new, small pond that’s out of water.  (Look, Joseph is flamboyant, and now he’s in a small town, and people are shocked bemused, etc.) And yet the show succeeds with its focus on the Network’s bare-bones regional agencies and the tough-love renovations they require, however staged some of the conflict may be. Just like any show that promises a transformation in 60 minutes, there are some abruptly resolved story lines in the quest for a happy ending: A booker is sad because her models left, so Paul is angry, but by the end of the episode she has new models. Yay! A booker is struggling by herself and not training her employees, so Paul is angry, but by the end of the episode she has promoted a colleague. Yay!

But there is too much time spent on a wholly divergent story line that doesn’t seem to jell. While Paul and Joseph are doing the hard work cross-country, two of the Network’s other bookers are taking long, passive-aggressive lunches while “babysitting” some new models at castings filmed in the run-up to last season’s NYFW. Shows have done this before, and the segments fall on the wrong side of constructed “reality” — from the flirty antics between two pretty young things to the poor model left crying to the cameras because she hasn’t impressed casting directors and is being sent home early.

Fortunately, New York Fashion Week only lasts eight days, most of which seem to have been plowed through in Remodeled’s first two episodes. (Next week, Paul and Joseph go to South Dakota, which is great, obviously.) Let’s hope this means there’ll be more time spent on the agency upgrades in the future. Enjoy our video roundup of Paul’s most frustrated moments from last night’s premiere:

Fashion Reality TV Just Got Remodeled