Talk about rewarding bad behavior. Janice Dickinson, the world’s first supermodel, has her own 11-part series debuting on Oxygen. During her resurgence, she has made Simon Cowell look like a pussycat and has tried to bring back her glory days at Studio 54 … or at the very least extend her well-worn 15 minutes of celebrity earned after her stints on “America’s Next Top Model.”
So why would a network that purportedly touts women’s issues offer someone like Dickinson her own show? Ratings, baby, ratings. A true cynic also would note that the show premieres the same day as Dickinson’s third (!) autobiographical book. Great book promotion, not so great television. Much of the premiere seg feels like a big flip of the middle finger to Tyra Banks, considering how heavily it borrows from “Model.”
Ultimately, the show’s best feature is its sensible slicing. The show’s editors keep things moving quickly, and there’s very little of the filler or dramatic pause that is so commonplace in reality TV. It’s not necessarily riveting, but it’s not nearly as painful as an episode of, say, “Britney & Kevin: Chaotic.”
The pace of the show is frenetic, in keeping with its star. Dickinson is opening up a modeling agency in Los Angeles, because the world needs more “untraditional” models. She approaches her first casting call like a kegger at a frat house, pounding the streets of Santa Monica with fliers and pulling skateboarders off the curb for photo shoots.
Viewers watch as she sets up shop in her newly decorated office, donned in harsh pinks and greens, conveying the plastic veneer that has become Dickinson’s calling card. She hires assistants, blonde triplets who, together, could maybe manage an office. Maybe.
Still, her casting call produces a fairly big turnout and most of the show is a quick succession of faces and personalities that Dickinson assails. Some she clearly identifies with, such as Teresa, the homeless teen with an unusual look. Others she simply dismisses with her trademark acrid style.
But for all that is fake about Dickinson, her modeling instincts ring true. By the end of the first episode, she’s signed five aspiring models, all with very interesting and seemingly marketable looks. These aren’t necessarily supermodels, and viewers come away with a sense that underneath all the hype, Dickinson just may know what she’s talking about — that is, when she’s actually making sense.
Glimpses of her home life, including her kids, Nathan and Savannah, are brief. The kids seem ultra-normal. Her house is cottage chic and not some black lacquer furniture den of iniquity. It would be somewhat disappointing to learn after all her onscreen shenanigans that the shrill and bombastic Dickinson is all an act. Apparently it isn’t, but it’s hard to be really sure, because Dickinson never lets her guard down entirely.
Although she seeks counsel from her kids and her stylists Duke and Gabriel, she never waits to hear their answers. It is all about Janice.