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'The City' finale: Whitney Port awakens the beast

July 14, 2010 | 10:56 am
The-city-finale-kelly-cutrone When “The City” finale finished, did anyone else exclaim, “That’s it?” Thirty minutes has never seemed enough for the show, but Tuesday night it was especially unsatisfactory.

In the finale, Whitney Port had been approached by a big PR firm owned by Alison Brod (who I will refer to from this point on as the falsely sweet, really evil Professor Umbridge, the pink-wearing villain from “Harry Potter”) and Kelly Cutrone is not happy about it. At Elle, life is perfect for Erin Kaplan with Olivia Palermo away hypnotizing Japanese fashionistas with her small face. Then, she returns to nab the “face of Elle” gig, which Erin seems to handle very well while assistant Seth loses his marbles.

The-city-finale-whitney-port Whitney isn’t pretty with “Pink.”

This episode caps off what my friends and I call Whitney’s “You done lost your mind” storyline. As I mentioned before, she’s not handling the stress of fronting a clothing line well and she has already alienated bestie Roxy Olin. In the finale, she has decided to tell Kelly that she has been approached by Professor Umbridge to do her PR.

Now, despite rumors to the contrary, Kelly is human. And it was clear that the PR maven was hurt that Whitney was considering working for someone else. We’re all used to seeing Kelly be aggressive, but passive-aggressive is a new thing for her. She tried to contextualize Whitney’s move with some talk about her destiny train being a local and not an express, but it was clear she was hurt.

So, Whitney went to her meeting with Professor Umbridge at her offices, which were obviously designed with a Willy Wonka nightmare motif in mind. Umbridge had lots of big ideas for Whitney and it was clear from Whitney’s face (which, like Erin’s face, has always rendered speaking unnecessary) that she was like a kid in a candy story. Of course, she literally was, but Umbridge definitely said all the right things. The other thing about Umbridge that I think Whitney liked was that she was very clear on what she wanted Whitney to do. It was always apparent to me that Whitney has a hard time making up her mind. Nevertheless, Whitney has the good sense to sleep on Umbridge’s offer.

Whitney met with Roxy to talk about the decision to hire Umbridge. It was funny how it seemed that Roxy was trying to remind her to remember what Kelly did for her, but she could have been talking about herself too. She has done a lot for Whitney and, in many ways, postponed her own search for what she’s passionate about. So, it was a difficult discussion to watch. I can’t imagine what it felt like for Roxy to actually live.

Later, Whitney returned to People’s Revolution and Kelly was not happy. Apparently, Umbridge has been telling people that Whitney has fired People’s Revolution and signed on with her candy factory. That’s bad enough, but Whitney isn’t really one of Kelly’s clients. Everything she has done for Whitney has been for free. So, it’s one thing to defend oneself against rumors of being fired, but another when you’ve been acting as a mentor out of the goodness of your heart. Plus, any scene with Kelly Cutrone is a winner for me, but “guilt is a time consumer” – now that was a rockin’ Kelly-ism. Well, we all know what went down, so we can’t wait to see the fallout when “The City” returns.

The-city-finale-olivia-palermo Olivia says sayonara to Louise.
Olivia has also been on an upward swing in the last few episodes (to all our chagrin). It must not be fun to have a toothy, British woman with actual journalism skills on your heels. Actually, that does sound pretty horrific. One thing became painfully clear to me in this episode: I had no idea what Elle meant by the “Face of” You would think it would be professionalism, energy and talent. But, really, they just want someone to look pretty in public appearances. Erin and Seth calling Olivia in Japan “lost in translation” couldn’t be closer to the truth. I could almost hear her thoughts when fans were crowding around her: “Is she touching me?” “My face is small? You’re one to talk about being small.” “How many more photos until I can go shopping?” But to give credit where credit is due, Olivia handled that better than I thought. It actually seemed as if she had social skills. I believe that may be only the second time I’ve complimented Olivia in the two seasons I’ve blogged “The City.” Savor it, my dears.

The-city-finale-erin-kaplan Now, we all know that the TV gig Louise took was hosting The CW show “Plain Jane.” So I’m not even sure that the “Face of” gig really contended. As if she’d turn down “Plain Jane” to be the face of a dot-com (even a big-name one like Elle). In that meeting when Joe Zee announced that Olivia had won the gig, though, Erin was surprisingly restrained. I think I only caught one eye roll. After the decision was announced, I can’t believe that Olivia yelled across the table, “Are you OK with that, Erin?” I envisioned Erin crawling across the table to ring Olivia’s swan-like neck. But, no, Erin held it together.

It was Seth who lost all semblance of control with his multiple eye rolls and exhales after the decision was announced. Well, Seth, maybe you should have helped Erin out sooner than the last episode, instead of delivering fake compliments to Olivia all season. And then he told Erin that “if she didn’t want to leave before, she may now” when Joe Zee was standing behind him and totally heard him say it. Oh, Seth, your backstabbing skills will need some major work if you want to play with this group! Again, it will be interesting to see how Erin and Olivia deal with this next season and if Seth returns with his cat claws sharpened.

What did you think of Whitney’s behavior this season? Do you feel Olivia deserved the “Face of Elle” gig? Sound off in the comments section below!

-- Jethro Nededog


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Photos: From top: Kelly Cutrone reacts to Whitney Port's news. Whitney Port tells Kelly Cutrone she has been approached by another PR company. Olivia Palermo takes the stage in Japan. Erin Kaplan reacts to the news that Olivia Palermo is the new face of "Elle." Credit: MTV