For some silly/stupid reason, when Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle came out at the same time, I felt like I had to choose one or the other. I chose Cashmere. (Similarly, as a kid I thought I couldn’t like Star Wars because I was already loyal to Star Trek.) Even though I still like Cashmere better, if I could do it all over, I would probably watch them both.

(Especially because Kim Raver is awesome. I’m so glad Grey’s Anatomy introduced me to her.)

In the pilot, we see 3 different versions of the same chick lit trope: beautiful, successful woman struggling to “have it all.” That’s not a bad theme, but dressing it up in different outfits doesn’t make it any more original. Plus there’s the steamy affair, the billionaire hero, and the perfect, self-sacrificing, stay-at-home dad/husband. Trope trope trope.

But with each new episode, the tropes melted away, transforming these characters into real women with real problems.

(Well, Nico and Wendy, anyway. Victory remained a mostly superficial, rom-commy kind of character. She asks once or twice, “Why do you guys always treat me like the baby sister who can’t take care of herself?” Uh, because you are.)

Funny enough, I identified most with Victory and Wendy, even though Nico (Kim Raver) was my favorite. This is partly because Victory is played by Lindsay Price, a fellow halfie, and partly because her character is creative/artistic. With Wendy, it’s because her home life is what keeps her grounded — a stable family matters to her, and to me.

Nico gets the most compelling and nuanced stories, though — from her affair, to her husband’s affair, to the baby, to her brother’s legal troubles, to the fertility stuff. The details are far out of the realm of my reality, but the writing and acting got me to empathize.

Sidebar: I like how the elevators at Nico’s office occasionally echo the elevators in Grey’s Anatomy. Awkward tension, secret kissing, sliding doors hiding and revealing all sorts of things…

The first season was better than the second, but ultimately I enjoyed the whole series.

Also, I have to give Season 2 credit for developing the male characters. Wendy’s husband Shane was by far my favorite, especially since I already knew/liked him from Big Shots, where he played a very different type of guy (i.e., douche). Nico’s boytoy Kirby was easy on the eyes — and the heart. Joe was… Well, Joe was every little girl’s dream, right? The white knight riding in on his private jet? But I guess I outgrew that, because the “charm” of being repeatedly saved by a romantic billionaire didn’t quite work for me.

Nor for the actor who had to portray it, apparently. Andrew McCarthy (who I loved in the Joy Luck Club) seemed incapable of making anything other than a furrowed-brow grouchy face. It would have been nice to see how the actor (and character) handled his change in fortune, introduced at the end of Season 2.

Someone who was definitely not grumpy: Rodrigo.

While Lipstick outlasted Cashmere, unfortunately it still didn’t get a clean end. The Season 2 finale was clearly spinning up some new threads to carry into Season 3, and then boom: cheesy montage of Happily Ever After moments.

Oh well.

Last random note: At first I hated the song in the opening credits, but by early in the second season, I had fallen in love with it. Now I sometimes find myself singing it randomly. Read my lips…

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