Talk about your simple concept: Beautiful people do ugly things.
That’s pretty much the entire premise behind MyNetwork TV’s telenovela FASHION HOUSE, in which models boff artists, secretaries bed bosses and a day without a bitchslap is like a day without sunshine. This is the kind of sudsy saga which gives soaps a good name, and could, in all honesty, teach its daytime counterparts a thing or two about how to hook – and keep – an audience. Because one thing the folks behind this show know is that to keep people coming back five nights a week – which is perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the upstart network – you gotta keep ’em wanting more. And when done right, that’s what soaps are all about.
Fortunately, FH knows better than to take itself too seriously. As in the Spanish telenovelas on which MyNetwork’s offerings are based, FH proves there is no room for mellow in melodrama. Every back has a knife sticking out of it, each (bra) cup is overflowing and if a character is holding a champagne glass when the scene begins, chances are it’ll be flung at someone before it ends. This ain’t your grandma’s soap opera.
The story is simple: Maria Gianni (played to unlikely perfection by Bo Derek) is the head of a fashion empire which is under attack from all sides. Her only son, Luke, falls in love with a beautiful young designer whom Maria deems unworthy. That’s it, in a nutshell. Oh, sure, the designer’s husband is sleeping with – who else? – his secretary. And when not being blackmailed into the bed of an investor she kinda has the hots for, Maria’s trying to keep her company out of the hands of arch nemesis Sophia Blakley (as portrayed by Morgan Fairchild, who has spent her career perfecting the role of bitch goddess). Throw in Maria’s scheming assistant, Luke’s scheming girlfriend and a photographer who seems nice but no doubt is scheming something and you’ve got enough characters to keep things bubbling along for years.
But fear not, TV addicts! For this drama – as well as it’s sister serial, DESIRE, which makes the potentially fatal mistake of taking itself far too seriously – asks only that you give it 13 weeks, at which point the storylines will be resolved and we can all go back to our busy lives. After that, MyNetwork will launch a new telenovela (although already there are whispers of a FASHION HOUSE sequel) in the time slot. ?
And for those fearing that it might prove difficult to jump into a serial mid-stream, the show proves incredibly accessible by providing not only a recap of the action so far before each episode and plenty of flashbacks during, but a weekly episode designed to fill viewers in on what transpired during the previous week.