Thursday, February 6, 2020

REVIEW: 'Katy Keene' - Katy Welcomes a New Roommate While Also Fighting Hard to Achieve her Fashion Dreams in 'Pilot'

The CW's Katy Keene - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Katy Keene struggles to manage the pressures of her day job at Lacy's Department Store and her very demanding boss, Gloria, who is a legendary personal shopper. Lucky for Katy, she has the support of her longtime boyfriend, KO Kelly, who has his own dream of becoming a professional boxer and a surprise Katy wasn't expecting.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of The CW's Katy Keene.

"Pilot" was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Michael Grassi and directed by Maggie Kiley

This one is for the dreamers. That's how Josie dedicates her performance at the conclusion of this premiere. It's essentially the mission statement for the show as well. This is the latest extension of the Riverdale universe on The CW. However, it's clearly going for a more earnest and plucky tone than the other shows helmed by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa based on the Archie Comics characters. Both Riverdale and Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are wildly over-the-top and campy. That works for them because its a subversion of a particular genre as well. They are doing inventive things with familiar premises. Here, it tries to pass that same energy along to a coming-of-age story for what it means for a bunch of 20-somethings to head to New York City in pursuit of their artistic dreams. It's a journey full of compromises and rejection. At first, it seems like everything is going to go right for the main characters. Katy Keene is going to be promoted as a personal shopper at Lacy's. Josie is going to sign a record deal a day after arriving in town. Jorge kills it at a Broadway audition both as himself and his drag alter ego Ginger. And yet, that's not the story this show is telling. Sure, it highlights how the dreamers can get so close they can taste it with their career ambitions. But the ugly realities of the world pop up to ensure it's much more complicated than that. They have to maintain the struggle and the fight for a little while longer. It's not worth it to give up either. All it takes is that one magical break to come along and completely change their lives. Katy believes she has that because she still manages to find a way to impress the prince and his surprise girlfriend simply by relating to the feeling of not belonging in this particular world. People judge her because of the poor neighborhood she came from. And yet, she has worked to get to this point and continues to show off her extraordinary skills and taste with every job she has. That's the most interesting part about her in this premiere. Yes, she has a boyfriend who is willing to propose to her at the conclusion of the hour. However, that romance mostly feels routine and stable at the moment. Sure, there is some brief uncertainty about them moving to Philadelphia for him to train as a boxer. But there is no real urgency to that decision. She was never going to leave especially since the show is built around the friendship between Katy, Josie, Jorge and Pepper. It's also difficult for the audience to have feelings one way or the other about this proposal as it is positioned as a cliffhanger until the next episode. It could really go either way and the audience will just have to accept that. Meanwhile, it's engaging immediately when she commits to her path as a fashion designer even if it means enduring the wrath of her boss, Gloria, for a little while. Elsewhere, Josie is much more vital to this show than she ever was on Riverdale. She actually fits in with this universe. Sure, it's amusing to note that the characters outside of Riverdale are much more aware that it is the murder capital of the world. Josie uses that as a badge of honor. She still feels devastated because she got her hopes up after a billionaire swept her off her feet in the park. He may continue to fight on her behalf. It's just clear that the economic reality of these creative passions will also play a role in the storytelling as Alexander's sister doesn't believe it's smart to invest in reviving the record label. At the end of the day though, it may all be about confidence and the determination to stand for what one believes in no matter what. That is the underlying message of this premiere ultimately. It means Ginger gets to tell off the Broadway casting director for refusing to take her seriously. Yes, there are some derogatory comments in that specific beat. But it also plays as Ginger having a moment of personal victory even though her career ambitions are still stagnant. At least the show puts in that detail for the character. Right now, it's hard to say anything about Pepper, what she actually does and how that connects to the other friends who make up this quartet of dreamers in the city.