Yesterday, Lifetime announced that it had picked up four new unscripted series, and has another three that are currently in development. The news came just after the finale of True Tori, Lifetime’s stumbling and stagey Tori Spelling/Dean McDermott troubled marriage vehicle, which would have easily roped me in with its conspiracy-theory fringe plots if it had not been soooooo boooooring. Plowing forward with unscripted fare under the direction of former Bravo development and production head Eli Lehrer (Real Housewives of New Jersey, Flipping Out, Millionaire Matchmaker), Lifetime may be rolling out these seven new shows in an effort to make you forget you ever heard the name “Emily Goodhand.” Who is Emily Goodhand? Exactly.
Let’s be optimists for a moment: Threads, a Project Runway for the under-18 set, should retain much of Runway‘s old charm. It’s produced by the Runway team, and features Christian Siriano as a judge (he recently dressed an animated Tinker Bell and her fairy consorts for Disney’s The Pirate Fairy). The prize is a scholarship to FIDM and $25K, so basically this will be like watching teens and tweens take the hemline SATs under intense duress, and for some reason I’m completely down with that (even though I was totally put off by the premise of MasterChef Junior, which is basically the same thing with soufflés). I want to see formalwear created by 13-year-olds. In my mind, it looks like this. Please be gentle with them, Siriano. We’ve seen grown men and women go to pieces over cuffs before.
Ugly Models is the most intriguing in-development offering pitch-wise (“the workplace docu-series Ugly Models will chronicle the American expansion of the U.K.-based modeling outfit, which prides itself on being the most successful and one-of-a-kind agency in the world representing character models with unique and unusual looks”), but a quick scroll through a slideshow of Ugly Models’ clients reveals mostly normy-looking folks with a few oddities thrown in. It’s like a fashion and casting agency for character actors. Maybe it’ll live up to the hype, but I’d rather just see an entire series about Marc Jacobs model Lily McMenamy, whose unconventional looks seem to make people very uncomfortable. I like her. She wears an expression that looks like she’s just eaten the worst salad.
I’m more gung-ho for Smile (also in development), a dental makeover series that aims to “fix [people’s] lives by fixing their teeth.” I file this under horror, because as a person who has not been to the dentist in [edited out in case my mom reads this] years, I can’t even imagine what the fuck we’re going to be in for with this. A few years ago, I was in my car and I heard a radio advertisement for cosmetic foot surgery that promised to correct bunions, warts, knobby parts, etc. I sat in the bank parking lot transfixed by the idea that someone would be so ashamed of his or her feet, with so many other body parts to be ashamed of instead. As opposed as I am to makeover shows like The Swan, I think that narrowing the focus down to one body part could be an interesting study in obsession: I mean, how bad are these teeth? How bad are these feet? If you zoom in on anything, it becomes horrific and embarrassing; whether the featured teeth are truly life-alteringly gruesome or their owners are just really hung up, I can’t help but think that this is going to be a sleeper hit. Everybody secretly freaks out about their teeth.
Less exciting are Kosher Soul (with a 12-episode order), the story of a culture-clash marriage between O’Neal McKnight (“celebrity stylist, comedian, sometime performer and reformed man about town”), who is black, and his fiancée, Mirian Sternoff (also a celebrity stylist), who is Jewish. Apparently I am alone in my disinterest in wedding drama, because the Real Housewives of Atlanta spinoff Kandi’s Wedding brought the freaking house down, but still — anytime any announcer asks, “Will their love be able to survive?” I want to shout, “No, you stupid idiot!” And speaking of stylists, you can watch bad hair artists murder their clients’ dos on Bad Stylist — if it gets picked up, that is — but I’m sure that if you own a pair of dull scissors and have bangs (and/or split ends), you’ve already lived through a much more dramatic unscripted version, probably right before your senior prom. There is such a thing as getting too real.
There were also some notably weird items on the Lifetime docket, like Born in the Wild (which has an eight-episode order). This show documents “unassisted birth in the outdoors,” and as someone who gave birth two years ago, I can say that this show curdles my ovaries. Lifetime, don’t. Didn’t we just go over the menace of the mosquito? Will roving lions swing by to eat these women’s placentas? How wild are we talking? Can you imagine being birthed on Lifetime, all wet and scared and delivered into a bramble? And what about Girlfriend Intervention, wherein “four wise, poised and stylish African American women […] help a white sister seeking a complete makeover to restore her confidence and inner glow”? This one also has an eight-episode order — unbelievably, since I can’t really figure out what race has to do with “inner glow” (it’s inner! It’s all the color of biology class petri dishes and chakras!).
Now I will excuse you to floss your teeth and book your ob-gyn appointment. Be safe out there.