Genuine imitation. Jumbo shrimp. Airline food. Thanks to Oxygen’s latest summer series, the world has a great new oxymoron to add to the list: “Jersey Couture.” One could probably credit “Jersey Shore’s” Snooki and friends for spawning more Garden state-based reality TV. High manufactured drama + low viewing standards = a reality TV hot mess, and to that end, “Couture” delivers. There are more fake nails, tans and hair extensions than a drag queen convention.
At times, “Couture” seems like a really boring episode of “The Sopranos,” which is to say it certainly doesn’t do much to help banish Italian-American stereotypes. Other times, it’s like an extended infomercial for Diane & Co., who oversee the biggest selection of formal wear in Freehold, N.J. Instead of running numbers like the Sopranos, this family sells sequins. Lots of them. With the help of her two daughters, Kimberly and Chrissy; husband, Sal; and son, Anthony, Diane Scali rules the popular store with mob bosslike authority.
So what makes a formal-wear store in South Jersey worth an hour of TV viewing? Not much, as it turns out. Odds are it wouldn’t be anything you couldn’t find on the security camera. The biggest in-store excitement centers on brisk prom-season business and a charity fashion show.
The eponymous Jersey Couture is sometimes a more fun stop than one would imagine, and watching the women dress clients provides some voyeuristic fun. It’s apparent the Scalis are naturals at their job. They have a unique sales approach that has all three women hoisting, squeezing and tugging various body parts in place in order to find the perfect fit for their customers. Kimberly is sure to let you know if your back fat is showing, and Diane considers herself a “boobologist” (she has a particular knack for accentuating decollete).
Still, it’s clear the fashions are just the hook for a show about Scali family dynamics. Through confessional-style interviews, we see the brood display typical sibling rivalries and unusually strong bonds amid a clash of Old World Italian standards and modern materialism. Unmarried Chrissy is the black sheep. Not wanting to carry on in the family business, she’s moved out of the house to her own apartment. It’s the storyline that seems to be a crux of future episodes. Whether it’s enough to keep “Jersey Couture” in fashion with viewers is dubious at best.