Well, I had so much fun reviewing #CNTM that I'm back for more, this time with the new docu-drama Glambition, filmed in Trinidad, and airing Tuesday nights on Synergy TV. I didn't initially know a lot about the series, so I missed the initial pilot broadcast, but caught up later online. The 20 minute episode was... interesting to say the least.
If I'm being honest? I wasn't impressed. The entire thing feels like a contrived, rehashed, bootleg version of The Hills, and that show got cancelled. The show is poorly edited, voice overs are stiltingly delivered, cuts are jumpy and obvious, transitions are jarring, there's a lot of repeated information.... production wise, it's a mess. And that's just the beginning. There is that strange stilted feeling throughout; cast members on budding realities shows tend to be hyper-aware of the camera's presence. The few actual conversations were constructed in such a way as to feel almost scripted. We've always known that reality television wasn't "real" but there's something here that feels disingenuous and overtly performed.
This episode largely focused on introducing the audience to the five cast members. We heard them describe themselves and their goals. And then we heard them talk shit about each other. The cast is an eclectic bunch though, and their casting might be the real genius of the series.
There's Lori, mastermind behind the Hak Gwai fashion label. Lori seems largely apathetic to everything that doesn't directly affect her and I strangely like it. She's saving her energy for the things she can and does control. She doesn't have time for foolishness and will simply disengage from situations that irritate her. Lori for me is the only one with very clear defined goals, and by extension, a solid reason for me to care about following her professional journey. She's determined and single-minded. That kind of focus is something I definitely envy.
There's Isoke, who's taking over her father's ice cream business. Of the bunch, Isoke is the most abrasive, and mostly likely to cause tension, but I don't blame her. I suspect that her eye is keen and her bullshit meter calibrated, and she isn't about to stand for nonsense, especially not from Bianca. She's brash, but she's honest, and she doesn't seem inclined to coddle or spoonfeed. Naturally that makes her my favourite. She comes right out and owns that she often rubs people the wrong way and I like that kind of self awareness. Isoke has decided that she will be moving forward professionally, and she will plow you down if you are in her way. She warned you.
There's Leah, former Miss Barbados World and current franchise holder of same, model, attorney, and manager/owner of an entertainment services company. Like Lori, she seems largely over the entire experience which I find endlessly entertaining. She just does not want to be there, or be dealing with anyone. It doesn't seem like she'd be fun to be around, but it does make for some EPIC shade. She does seem to mostly have her shit together more-so than the other women however. There is a detached kind of default professionalism/formality that she displays that I can't really fault her for. She doesn't seem to be here for Sarah-Jane at all though, and it's obvious that SJ knows it. It will be fun seeing that relationship play out this season.
There's Bianca, two time ANTM contestant and current working model. Bianca has moved (?) to Trinidad in an effort to try to expand her brand into the Caribbean market. "Money is her motivator" she says. Five times... then twice more. I have to admit that as a studious ANTM viewer my bias against her is pretty high. She's got Vogue level attitude with catalog level credibility. I "checked her stats". Where's the major magazine spread to show for her hard work? Where's the proof that she's earned her diva attitude? This will be her third run on reality television that I know of, and I just have to say... there's a reason you were on ANTM twice and still came out without a crown. Bianca's an unequivocally gorgeous woman, but she does herself no favours by going out of her way to stir shit up. There's a little too much braggadocio, and not enough receipts. Tone down the attitude and the entitlement. It's not cute, it's obnoxious. And there is an undercurrent of classism in her distaste for Isoke and labeling Lori as "unrefined" that rubs me the wrong way.
And then there's Sarah-Jane, former contestant for Miss Trinidad and Tobago, current..... socialite? Apparently that's a thing we do down here now. Her claim to fame seems to be her "Visa face". (Accepted everywhere! *rimshot*) That's fine and all, but as of now she's the girl I'm least impressed with. Visibility is great, but it's useless unless you do something with it. She doesn't appear to be doing anything other than sitting around looking pretty in parties or have a goal past being recognized. She claims to have "social ambition" but ambition to what end? Ambition is pointless without a goal.
Tell me you want to be an event planner. Tell me you want to increase visibility of fledgling business. Tell me anything other than "people know my face". I think it's very telling that most of her interview happened in very vague, open-ended terms. Leah's assessment of her as the "cool girl she sees in passing" seems about right. But I should be kind. It's only the first episode after all.
Truthfully, after watching the entire episode, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be caring about. I don't yet know what I'm supposed to be learning from these women, and the show's stated premise (a peek into the world of the forward-thinking, focused and fly female within the networks of fashion, entertainment and lifestyle in the Caribbean) is open-ended enough as to not actually mean anything. These seem like women who wouldn't ordinarily run in the same circles, (and are only vaguely connected by varying degrees of separation) being thrown together to see what happens. Think "Real World for pretty people". It seems to be trying to be too much at once. Either you've united your cast over a commonality they share, or you're just throwing pretty people at my screen. There's a little of both going on and it doesn't mesh well. I'll follow Lori grow her line, and or watch Isoke fill her father's shoes OR I'll watch Sarah Jane try to figure out how to make her "Visa face" into a sustainable source of income. Asking me to do both in the same show feels like a story with too many plot-lines. Either these woman are powerful business forces in the entertainment industry, or they're socialites. I'm not sure yet that I agree they can be both. Especially since by definition a socialite is little more than decorative fluff for expensive parties.
It's a strange thing to comment on the presumably real lives of people who I've seen out on The Avenue, but being in the public eye (unfortunately) means opening oneself up to scrutiny. I do try to be judicious though, so I'm open to seeing how the women grow personally and professionally over the course of the season. I'm still not impressed just yet, but I'm maco enough that I'll keep watching. The second episode airs tonight at 9PM on Synergy TV. I may or may not live tweet it. You'll just have to hang around to find out. In the meantime, catch up on the pilot episode if you haven't already seen it, and let me know what you think in the comments.