'Plain Jane' host tortures wallflowers, hits 'The City' [video]
It's a Cinderella story that borrows bits and pieces from "What Not to Wear," "Pygmalion" and "Extreme Makeover," and layers some grrrl power on top. But, really, it's about getting the guy.
The CW network, home of flawless beauties such as "Gossip Girl's" Serena van der Woodsen and "90210's" Naomi Clark, will launch "Plain Jane" as one of its unscripted summer shows in late July. The stars of the six-episode series, as the name would imply, don't have Blair Waldorf's fashion flair or even a scrap of "America's Next Top Model" contestants' catwalk confidence.
"These girls are like the best characters in a John Hughes movie," said Kristen Vadas, the CW's senior vice president of alternative programming. "They're just not pulled together."
The first teaser from the series (see it after the jump), reportedly a favorite with advertisers during the recent upfront presentations, follows a clean-scrubbed young woman who glams up to win the heart of her longtime guy friend.
Each episode will follow such a scenario: The producers and show host reach out to the object of the girl's affection (he's a friend, co-worker, acquaintance who may have no idea he's being crushed on) and sets up a blind date. That means the clock is ticking for plain Jane to go from homely to hottie. The show, focused on each Jane's journey, will carry an "Oprah"-esque be-your-best-self message.
Be prepared, though, because the business of beautifying ain't pretty, folks. If there was ever any doubt about that, this clip clears it up. Hint: Our makeover subject gets a little electric jolt, via a dog-training device, when she bumbles through some random conversations with the opposite sex. That'll teach her to hit on a gay guy.
The "fairy godmother" of the show, statuesque British fashion expert Louise Roe, is the one handing out the negative reinforcement. Don't give that chick a Taser! (She tears Jane down, but then builds her back up.) Roe, who's popping up everywhere these days, has just joined the cast of MTV's "The City" as an Elle.com adversary to series star Olivia Palermo. She's a familiar face on the E! network for red carpet coverage, has a lengthy TV resume from the BBC and writes a fashion column, Front Roe, for MSN News.
Vadas said the electric-shock treatment went over so well (with Jane?) that it may become a regular feature on the show. So the description might read: dating/relationship/makeover reality series with mild torture.
The promo, ultimately, reveals the first plain Jane's transformation from frumpy girl-next-door to perfectly coiffed and outfitted bombshell who takes a chance on love with her secret crush. And just like a Hollywood rom-com, she ends up drinking champagne and twirling in his arms. Heavy sigh.
There's no guarantee, though, that every episode will end with a coupling, Vadas said, even though audiences will probably expect that to happen. The process will give the Janes the tools to put their best foot forward. Then it'll be up to them to decide if they still want to pursue the guys who never noticed them before their new haircuts, makeup and wardrobe.
Or, there's the nationally televised train-wreck ending, when the guy says he's just not that into her, push-up bra or no.
"I can't imagine they'll all end with a match," Vadas said. "All those people are probably not going to walk off into the sunset together."
And that could be one of the reasons to watch.
-- T.L. Stanley