Here’s something I never thought I’d say: Last night’s “Princesses: Long Island” reminded me a little bit of “Mad Men.”
No, the Bravo reality show did not suddenly develop any rich, nuanced plotlines. Its characters did not wear any amazing retro outfits. Nor was there insightful commentary on the politics and social mores of the era (well, maybe indirectly there was, but in a very, very different way).
The connection lies in the business angle. The thing about “Mad Men” is that I often find myself much more drawn to the account-related stuff than to the personal stuff. For example, I was much more riveted by Don chasing Ford than I was by Don chasing Sylvia.
So it was on the latest installment of “Princesses.” Sure, Chanel’s voiceover at the opening of the show foreshadowed serious drama. “There’s an old jewish proverb: Whoever can stop wrongdoing but doesn’t will be punished,” she declared rabbinically. “I’m not going to tell someone how to live but when the other option is the wrath of God, sometimes you’ve got to get up in people’s business.”
While Chanel and Casey did stage a comically half-hearted intervention with hard-drinking Erica (the episode was officially titled “Intermenschion“), that was far from the most interesting part of the hour. The scenes that actually bordered on genuine entertainment centered on the cast’s two entrepreneurs, Amanda and Joey.
First we learn that Amanda is not just the girlfriend of an older, whiny man, but also the CEO of Drink Hanky. We find her in the company’s headquarters, aka her bedroom, with her best friend and “creative director,” the sort of funny and very flamboyant Ilton, who Amanda describes as “me in a man’s body.”
A Drink Hanky, in case you are wondering, is a stylish sleeve for your drink.
“I like to call it beverage couture,” Amanda says, before going on to explain why she has taken the time to invent such a thing. “The average person takes five napkins per drink. The napkins don’t do shit.”
Amanda and Ilton are in the throes of like totally brainstorming about Drink Hanky.
Ilton: “Did you think about sesasonal prints?”
Amanda, thinking hard on this: “Yeah, you don’t keep your same outfits…”
Enter Amanda’s mom: “What about a sex toy party? You could put dildos?”
Amanda: “The religious women will just love that!”
Ilton, impersonating an exuberant religious woman: “I’m going to temple with my sex hanky!”
It gets even better when Amanda and Ilton go to a park for a Drink Hanky photo shoot. Ilton, the “creative genius” with “an amazing eye” photographs Amanda and a model they may or may not have discovered moments ago on location.
The women strike poses while kissing a statue of a fireman, clinging all the while to their dressed-up beer bottles. Then, suddenly, Amanda is hit by a lightning bolt of inspiration in the form of the construction workers toiling away nearby. Maybe Ilton isn’t the company’s only creative genius! Soon the women are striking poses in front of the site, while the workers mutter things like “they gotta move!”
More serious about her start-up is Joey. “On Long Island you’re either born rich, married rich, or start a business.” She is obviously in that last category, and she has put everything into Kissamint, a product that combines a lip balm with a breath mint. “Kissamint is my ticket out of Freeport.”
Which is I guess is how she ends up meeting with Charlie, a marketing executive who looks like a younger, wormier Graydon Carter.
“Now this just made love to me,” Charlie says enthusiastically after applying the new and improved version of Kissamint Joey has provided him with. Joey looks vaguely horrified as Charlie tries to convince Joey to play up the product’s sexy angle.
“I don’t want to be so sexually oriented because this is really for the independemint woman,” Joey proclaims, simultaneously standing her ground and showing off her made-up word.
Charlie isn’t swayed. “I’m going to Kissamint my wife all night long,” he says as their meeting comes to a close.
Will we soon be seeing women in line at Starbucks whipping out their Drink Hankies as they order skinny iced lattes? Will a refreshing lip balm save Joey from the slums of Long Island? Unfortunately, just like on “Mad Men,” the scenes from next week tell us nothing. For once, though, tuning in next Sunday suddenly doesn’t seem as daunting.