Style and Substance

CBS (ended 1998)


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Style and Substance

Show Summary

Chelsea Stevens is a one-woman cooking, decorating and entertaining machine who thinks every crisis can be solved by a decorative centerpiece. As America's reigning queen of domesticity, style, and gracious living, she has created a media empire consisting of magazines, video, and television spots. Enter small-town girl Jane Sokol, who has been brought to the Big Apple to manage Chelsea's business after she sells it to Ferber Enterprises. Level-headed Jane goes head to head with neurotic control-freak Chelsea in her daily attempts to handle budgets and Chelsea's difficult staff -- not to mention Chelsea's meddling interference in her life. Backing up Chelsea and Jane is a mildly amusing office staff that hits on every extreme stereotype we've been seeing for years. These characters include: gay interior designer Mr. John -- an older British man whose dialogue mostly involves his kinky private life, wisecracking food stylist Trudy -- whose dominant personality is repeatedly attributed to her being Jewish, and Chelsea's oh-so-charmingly inept secretary Terry. Recurring roles include Chelsea's obnoxious attorney Bobby and hick farmhand neighbor Earl (played by Alan Autry). Whether it was mocking or a tribute, critics could not help but notice the similarities between Chelsea and Martha Stewart -- who has been rumored to be difficult to work with. To alleviate any hard feelings, Style and Substance implied a rivalry between the two -- adding some additional wit to the scripts. Despite raves over both Jean Smart's brilliant and energetic performance and Nancy McKeon's ability to sharply play the exasperated straight man to Chelsea's weirdness, their office antics fell flat with viewers. The series did not produce instant ratings in its CBS Monday night timeslot, resulting in its cancellation after only five episodes without an opportunity to build an audience. Style and Substance returned later as a Wednesday night summer fill-in and actually faired much better, but it was too little too late.moreless