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Reason The series doesn't premiere until a couple days after publication time, but E! dropped the episode on its website last week, and we got a screener.


Should You Subscribe To So Cosmo?

E! goes behind the scenes at Cosmopolitan. Is the docuseries a page-turner?

What is this thing?

The lives and loves of the staff at Cosmopolitan magazine, including former EIC, current Hearst "Chief Content Officer," and top-notch Project Runway All-Stars mentor Joanna Coles; beauty director and mom to a toddler Leah Wyar Romito; fashion editors Tiffany Reid, James DeMolet, and Adam Mansaroglu; and "brand coordinator" and occasionally clueless twentysomething Diandra Barnwell and her amazing eyebrow narrative.

If you're one of the four other people who watched either The Paper or Running In Heels, or think The Devil Wears Prada should have had three sequels by now, come sit next to me, because this sounds tailor-made (as it were) for us.

When is it on?

Wednesdays at 8 PM on E!.

Why now?

I think the drama baked into working in publishing in the 21st century, and particularly the drama inherent in fashion/"women's" editorial, makes for good TV, but shows about publication process aggro have struggled to find and keep viewers in the past. But what used to look like untenable ratings can work for a niche show these days, and I suspect E!, finding itself with access and wanting to diversify away from a majority-Kardashian slate before it's too late, decided to take another run at it.

What's its pedigree?

Bunim/Murray, which has quite a bit of experience in the slice-of-life subgenre. There's a long list of executive producers with pertinent E! credits (KUWTK, I Am Cait), and Coles and her chief of staff, Holly Whidden, co-produce.

Coles herself is a delight, grand enough to belong in the world of high fashion but also practical and no-bullshit.


The premiere can drag, spending much of its time on introductions of the key players and their job descriptions. Barnwell pulls a lot of the focus, probably because she has the least experience and the most potential to generate good TV by fucking up, and while she's compellingly frustrating in that regard, too much time is wasted on her date with a fitness trainer who's under consideration for a job at the mag, and whether that's a conflict with blah blah nobody cares.

The premiere also elects to tease Coles's "big announcement" -- i.e., that she's leaving the magazine for a more senior oversight role, which could mean her staff gets ousted by her successor -- until the last five minutes, even though we already know it's happened. I understand that the production's trying to locate everyone for us as personalities and work relationships before the first big "plot" twist, but it doesn't quite work.


Now that Coles's job change is out of the way, the show can get down to the business of depicting the upheaval it's going to cause -- or, if it fails to do so, continuing to document the expert shade bookings director Steven Brown is constantly throwing at Barnwell about not knowing what she does and how she skipped some dues-paying. And Romito's struggles to balance work and motherhood aren't what would have me tuning back in, but Coles's take on having it all (namely, you really can't, but we all just try the best we can) and on not underselling ourselves as women (she corrects visitors to the offices on how they introduce themselves, making sure they use their last names and don't infantilize themselves) are news I can use.

I don't have much use for Cosmo itself, honestly, although I know it's tried to reposition itself closer to Marie Claire and Glamour in recent years and get away from the cheesily retrograde look and tone of the Gurley Brown era -- but I'm here for the shoe and accessory porn that is scenes shot in the editorial-supply room, and for the bitchy reads of shapeless blazers and arm parties.


I loved The Paper and Running In Heels, I like Joanna Coles, and it's only eight episodes. I'm in.

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