From the fashion to the lingo to the logo (and, let's face it, the title itself), this show is so hilariously stuck in the '80s that I actually had to look it up to make sure that it wasn't meant to be set thirty years prior. I would have still questioned it, had it not been for the use of smartphones -- well played, Jane By Design. I guess this just leaves one question as far as this inevitably short-lived series goes: Do the writers know less about being a high school student or about working in the fashion industry?
In all seriousness, nothing makes the vaguest amount of sense in Jane By Design, which is so painfully a rip-off of The Devil Wears Prada that I really want to call it The Devil Wears a Prada Backpack. Jane (Erica Dasher) is visually a poor teenager's Anne Hathaway who, after a wacky mix-up, assumes the role of the executive assistant of a high-brow fashion hot shot, Gray Chandler Murray (Andie MacDowell -- talk about the '80s, seriously), in order to rake in some much-needed cash. This leads to all kinds of drama and what is essentially the inverse of Drew Barrymore-starring Never Been Kissed, right down to the jobless brother (David Rogers) who was cool in high school and played on the baseball team. Jane gets by with the help of mohawk-donning bestie, Billy (Nick Roux), who is secretly hooking up with the most popular girl in school, Lulu (Meagan Tandy), natch. Jane also has to deal with India Jourdain (India De Beaufort), a sneaky villain who's gunning for Gray's job... but who Gray can't just fire for some unexplained reason. Oh, and yes, Gray does look a whole lot like Jane, who happens to have a long-lost mother. I'm sure that won't come into play by the time the show gets cancelled.
While I kind of loved the Jane By Design pilot in a so-bad-it's-amazing kind of way (let's face it, Hart of Dixie's days are numbered, and I need something ridiculously campy and teenybopper to watch at all times), thanks to actual good teen series like Pretty Little Liars and MTV's Awkward. and all-out batshit insane ones like Secret Life of the American Teenager, the ante has been upped for what young'ins and adults expect to see on ABC Family these days. You've got to go big or go home if you have a series in which the protagonist makes inexplicably horrible decisions like borrowing the boss' car and trying on all of her designer clothes (I mean, you call that a montage?!), so for there to be no consequences whatsoever for Jane's terrible choices may be the show's ultimate flaw (spoiler alert: it only gets worse in the second episode). As it is, viewers have no idea what is a really bad decision that will lead to jail time (like, you know, forging legal documents so that a teen can have a demanding job) and what's just a low-stakes wacky decision. But I'm pretty sure that if Andy was caught wearing Runway editor Miranda Priestly's lipstick and unveiling her hideous bug-brooch fall collection without her permission, she would have gotten her ass handed to her.
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