Okay, it’s not like any of us had high hopes for Remodeled, The CW’s new modeling reality show whose main distinction is not being America’s Next Top Model. But the basic premise had the potential to be fun: “Super agent” Paul Fisher travels to different struggling agencies within his “Network,” Tabatha's Salon Takeover-style, in order to fix them. (First up: a small agency with big problems!) Meanwhile, some of The Network’s standout models travel to New York to try to book gigs for Fashion Week.
But Remodeled isn’t even a little bit fun: It’s half-boring, half-dreadful. While the “models in New York” section of the series merely drags—after all, none of these young people have the charisma of Top Model contestants—everything involving Paul is actively painful. Rarely have we met a person so devoted to becoming a reality TV personality. He may be a powerful agent, but he is a terrible actor. And he’s watched way too many shows like this, which means he utters a lot of forced clichés like, “If you can’t deal with the heat, get out of the kitchen,” and “Let me help you—please, let me help you.”
At Paul’s side is an equally fame-hungry assistant named Joseph, who is doing his best to be a goth Brad Goreski. Joseph provided the premiere episode's asinine title when he suggested that beleaguered agency owner Britta had “a latte to learn.” (Seriously, that was the episode title. I know, right?) He also quips whenever appropriate: “How do you lose 16 models? Are you blind?” “Someone has to buy this woman a dictionary so she knows what ‘exclusive’ means.” Both Paul and Joseph treat their bitchiness as a burden: It’s so clearly an act that you never so much as flinch. They’re not Tabatha or Gordon Ramsay—they just wish they were.
As for the actual remodeling of the struggling agencies, it's mostly a lot of yelling. Paul arrives and screams nonsense like, “Britta has dropped the ball. She has stopped teaching her staff. ... They know less than less than nothing!” Then, once he wrangles some tears out of his "proteges," he extends the olive branch and tells them how to do their jobs better. At least, that’s what he purports to do. In the first episode, Paul’s major influence was advising the staff to keep more fashion magazines on their tables, and to force their models to sign exclusive contracts. (The latter makes total sense, but it also seems like the kind of thing he could have said in an email or over the phone.)
Of course, the major change comes at the end, with a lame cop-out fix: Paul has the offices completely remodeled and throws a ton of new contracts in their direction. That’s not hard work, or teaching the agencies to fend for themselves. That’s a reality show deus ex machina. And not to be a cynic, but if these people were doing so poorly at their jobs before Paul showed up, are they really going to be pros now that they have shinier digs? I would maybe watch Remodeled if it followed up on the agencies: How are they supposed to suddenly keep up with having twice as many exclusive models?
Ugh, what is it with The CW's reality programming? Remodeled is nowhere near as reprehensible as the not-canceled-quickly-enough H8R, but both series prove that the network is not in touch with what its audience wants. I could be wrong, of course: Remodeled could prove to be The CW’s next smash hit—but I’d be shocked. The show feels like a half-assed attempt to stay on-brand while Tyra takes a rare break, and I doubt viewers will last past the flimsy premiere. And you know what they say. If you can’t stand the heat, Paul...
If you missed tonight's premiere, don't worry: Not only did you not miss anything, but you still have two more chances to see it. "A Latte to Learn" encores Wednesday night at 9pm after One Tree Hill, and once more on Friday at 8pm, before Supernatural. If you DID watch, what did you think?