The Tom & Lorenzo Archives: 2006 -2011

Kell on Earth: The Post Mortem

All over but the shouting.

We just want to start off by saying, "We tried, kittens."

And we did. We dutifully watched every episode of this somewhat charmless show because despite the attempts by the Magical Elves to inexplicably center a huge portion of the drama around printer malfunctions and dumb-as-a-box-of-hammers interns, we still love to catch those brief glimpses of the times when the PR world and the fashion world converge. We're talking about things like castings, installations, consultations with designers, runway shows, promotional films, that sort of thing. In retrospect, we were pretty naive. We had hoped that this show, especially because it was being produced by Magical Elves, would help fill the fashion void on Bravo left behind by the departure of Project Runway and the addition of two PR ripoffs that failed to capture what made the original so captivating. How wrong we were.

Kell on Earth isn't a show about an aspect of the fashion industry any more than Flipping Out (its closest cousin on the Bravo lineup and the obvious model used for KoE) is about the real estate or home design industries. Instead, it was another formulaic "wacky person with a wacky staff" reality show and frankly, that formula got tired somewhere around the 3rd season of Kathy Griffin's show.

And here's the other problem with adapting that show model: Kell is not "wacky." She's not charming, she's not funny, and she's not even all that charismatic. She's constantly disheveled (and frankly, a lot of the times she looked downright unbathed), insanely high-strung, narcissistic (although really, that goes without saying since she has her own reality show) and would rather sit around burning incense and terrorizing 21-year-olds than do her work. She's smart, that's for sure. And on the few occasions when they actually show her doing the work her clients pay her to do, she demonstrates that she's knowledgeable and good at her job. Unfortunately, that's not what they decided to focus on.

No, they decided to focus on the office. And when we say "the office," we mean the cramped, fetid-looking room where seemingly a dozen desks are shoved right up against each other and everyone sits around staring at computer screens or listening to Kell go on another of her rampages because someone, somewhere wasn't able to read her mind in the absence of any real instructions. If they wanted to do a "You think YOUR boss is crazy, look at this!" that might have worked, although we doubt it. Why would any viewer want to come home from work, sit down in front of the box and watch other people stressing out about their work? Sure, sometimes the stressful incidents were colorful (a model fainted!) but mostly it was about charts and printers and stamps and people who don't do (or don't know HOW to do) their jobs. Most of us get that crap every single day when we leave home.

And then there's the cast. There was so much focus on Stephanie and Andrew M. and by the end of last night's episode we'd about had it with the two of them. For Andrew M., merely picking out and picking up a cake for a party is this highly complicated, stressful and apparently to him, fascinating process. If only we all found it so gripping. That the producers decided to focus on an extended sequence of Andrew figuring out how to put a cake in a refrigerator is the best example we can think of to illustrate the truly stupid things the producers want to focus on. And here's the thing about Andrew M and Stephanie: they're not interesting people. Not by a longshot. The only real interest with Stephanie was whether she would get that inevitable opportunity to stand in a clock tower and pick people off with a rifle or whether she was going to die of consumption first. The only real interest with Andrew is how he dresses and frankly, you can see guys dressed like that all over the country in areas urban to rural.

Since we're talking about people, let's move on to the other two major cast members, business partners Robyn and Emily. We'll be blunt: they're bitches. Now, we toss that word around in a joking manner all the time, but this time we're serious. Total bitches. Nine times out of ten, the words coming out of their mouths are defensive, accusatory, and because they are prone to the same tirades that Kell is, completely non-productive. It's all-shrieking, all the time in the offices of People's Revolution. In fact, Kell, Robyn, and Emily are walking poster children for bad managerial styles.

Now, last night maybe they sensed this and we got a far more "aspirational" message from Kell and friends. It was all about following your dreams and doing the things you love to do and finding solace in your friends who all love and adore you. We didn't buy one word of it. In fact, every time Kelly goes off on one of her "mentoring young women" bullshit speeches we don't believe it for one second. If she wanted to empower young women (and young men, for that matter), she could stop treating them like slaves and take the time to actually mentor them. Instead, she's got a high-turnover, low-paid, terrorized work staff who spend every day wondering what they're supposed to do and subsequently find simple things like stamping envelopes and filling gift bags to be totally beyond their capabilities.

We would love it if this show was all about a powerful, knowledgeable woman doing her job and taking no shit, in the process serving as an inspiration for young woman out there. That's not what we got. Kell is as much an inspirational figure to young women as Jeff Lewis of Flipping Out is for gay men. That is to say, not at all. Not even a little.

If there's a next season (and there probably will be), we'll stick around for the first couple of episodes to see where it's going, but they need to reverse the office/out-in-the-world ratio. Instead of spending 80% of the show on office drudgery and only 20% or so on the cool fashion things, it should be exactly the opposite. We don't want to see endless scenes of Kelly screaming at people from her desk. How anyone thought that was captivating is beyond us.

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