Get Your Lipstick Tube Ready.
When I saw the first few episodes of Lipstick Jungle last year, I have to say, I wasn’t all that impressed. The program seemed a bit like cotton candy for the brain, a pink confection tossed to the gals in the TV audience punctuated by gorgeous clothes, shoes, BlackBerries and killer jobs. The three leading women – a fashion designer, a women’s magazine editor and the head of a movie studio – all had hot men, time for cocktails with one another and always looked fabulous as they cavorted about New York City. Yet I continued to watch it because it was lighthearted enough that I could turn it on in the background while I simultaneously surfed the internet without missing much.
Then season two came around. And stuff got interesting.
Nico Reilly (Kim Raver), the tough-as-nails magazine editor, became a widow when her sexually disinterested professor husband died, but not before impregnating a student of his. The vindictive student then rubbed Nico’s nose in her husband’s infidelities. (Nico too had her own affair with a young, hot up-and-coming photographer.) Several episodes later, the student abandoned her baby with Nico. Not a typical maternal type, Nico immediately and strongly bonded with the baby, even though it scared her hunky boy toy, and started nurturing fantasies about adopting the fruit of her husband’s affair. The baby’s grandparents burst that dream when they swooped in to take the baby away, but the whole incident prompted Nico to freeze her eggs as a way to preserve her fertility. “It’s intense, it’s life changing . . . someone completely depending on you for everything,” she said of caring for a baby. “I’ve never felt so necessary.”
Meanwhile, the headstrong movie ex, Wendy Healy (Brooke Shields) pushed the envelope a bit too hard and wound up unemployed. While she was home with her two kids trying to figure out her next career move – Start a niche studio? Work from home? – her husband Shane (Paul Blackthorne), who’d been an at-home dad for years while she jetted off to movie sets, started receiving job offers for projects, many of which required big travel commitments. With Wendy out of work, the power balance had shifted, at least for her husband who suggested they have another child while he went out and made the cash.
“Do you really want to start over with an infant?” Wendy asked incredulously. “Honestly, honey, at this point, I’d rather make movies than babies. . . I’m a lot better when I’m working. I think I’ve learned that about myself. I’m a better mother and a better wife.”
“You might not want to hear this,” her husband replied, “But I like our arrangement now, with you at home.”
“I’m not looking to be a stay-at-home anything,” she responded icily.
After these episodes, I was interested in finding out what would happen next. Issues related to delaying reproduction for career reasons and childrearing among folks with high-pressure jobs, those were subjects I found more compelling than a soap about the hippest nightclub or shopping for the hottest new Gucci pump or Prada bag, given where I am in my life, working and raising kids.