ABC Family’s “Jane By Design” is really curing my “Ugly Betty” withdraw, and I have to add that I’m pretty impressed with ABC Family lately in general. It’s provided me with all my new favorite shows: “The Nine Lives of Chloe King,” “Pretty Little Liars” (see a review next week once I finish watching season two which comes to Netflix Instant tomorrow) and the new “Bunheads” by the writer of “Gilmore Girls.”
But currently, “Jane By Design” is my favorite. It has a very simple premise: Jane (Erica Dasher) applies for an internship that she can do part-time with her high school, but accidentally lands an adult executive assistant job with part-time hours (since the boss, Gray [Andie MacDowell], travels a lot) while getting paid a whooping $34,000 a year. (I know, if only there were part-time jobs that had full-time pay!) She can’t turn it down since she and her legal guardian/brother are having money problems.
It’s not exactly a realistic premise, but Dasher does a convincing job of alternating between a believable high school student and a fake yet convincing 25 year old. I often forget her character’s not supposed to be 25 at the appropriate times.
But the main thing I like about it—aside from the show’s cuteness, lightness and clothes—is that for once there’s an imaginary fashion magazine that actually hires a girl who is naturally good at fashion who maximizes her natural beauty from the get-go.
I love the movie/book “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Ugly Betty” but I can’t help but always think, “Now surely there’s a girl who’s passionate about fashion and understands the importance of presenting her best appearance whose more suited for this job than you!” I always felt bad in “The Devil Wears Prada” universe for the “millions of girls who’d die” for the main character’s job that have been dreaming of working at a fashion magazine since they were four. It just didn’t really seem fair.
That’s why the Jane character is so endearing. She has just the right skills and passion for the job, she loves it and she considers it her dream job; she just happens to secretly be the wrong age.
I also like the fresh take on Andie MacDowell’s character. Both Meryl Streep and Vanessa Williams have played similar roles where they mostly maximized the dark side of magazine editors. Andie MacDowell is certainly tough and harsh as well, but her good side is shown with more regularity and seems to be more dominant. She actually adores Jane and thinks she’s perfect for the job. She even stands up for her often, usually without question. It’s refreshing, though there are probably many in the publishing industry who would argue that it’s not as true to life.
Overall, I think this is an excellent show, and since the first half of season one is on Netflix Instant (and it’s only 10 episodes), you should give it a watch if you’ve got some summer time. And if you catch up and want to continue with the series, it’s on ABC Family every Tuesday at 8 p.m. this summer. In fact, new episodes of both “Pretty Little Liars” and “Jane By Design” are on tomorrow night if you want to set your DVR.