This 20-minute trailer for the new Cosmo reality show feels excessive, but we obviously watched anyway
By the time you finish the new 20-minute trailer for Cosmopolitan’s upcoming reality show you’ll almost forget this is the same magazine that put a few cornrows on a white woman and called it a new trend, and the same magazine that published a beauty article with photos of all white women to show what was “in” and all photos of women of color to show what was dead (“RIP”). For a second, the So Cosmo trailer makes you believe in the dream they’re selling through the keenly smart former editor-in-chief Joanna Coles. Until you remember again.
That is not to say the E! reality show doesn’t look interesting. It does. But it’s also so damn extra. All of those reality show/magazine industry elements are present and accounted for. You’ve got inter-office romance, competition, fears of being fired, workplace drama, gossip, backstabbing, a demanding British boss, the small town to NYC dream story, perks, celebrity appearances, shirtless men, women in bikinis, pressure, relationship conundrums and identity conversations. Yes, those identity conversations that happen within the first four minutes.
So Cosmo introduces us to Diandra Barnwell (brand coordinator), Tiffany Reid (senior fashion editor), Steven Brown (bookings director), Evan Betts (fitness contributor), Adam Mansuroglu (fashion editor), James Worthington Demolet (senior fashion editor) and Leah Wyar (executive beauty director). Naturally (or not so much), the two women of color — Barnwell and Reid — are touted out first to give the illusion of diversity. I can assure you there is no real diversity in mainstream media, especially not in women’s magazines.
“There are girls like me who come from a small town who can’t look in a magazine and say, ‘That girl looks like me.’ I didn’t have that growing up.” Barnwell says. Because of course Cosmo had to show that it was open to those kinds of conversations. Progressive!
Seven minutes in, we’re introduced to Reid, a black editor from the Bronx. The identity conversation continues. “Do you feel you have a special responsibility to black women because there are so few black women in fashion?” Coles asks Reid. “I actually feel like it’s my responsibility to let people know where I came from and let them know I’m not the stereotype of what you typically think of when you think of a black woman from the Bronx.” Girl. If you want to make it your ministry to do the whole “See! I’m not like those other black folks” dance for folks who are going to stereotype you anyway, be my guest. I cannot relate.
Of course, the identity issue was not brought up with anybody else but the women of color. It felt a bit othering — or saving face to appeal like those convos are welcome (and perhaps they are at Cosmo) — but, again, so damn extra. Not to mention fashion and beauty are usually the only areas in mainstream mags where black women have a seat at the table.
Everything else seems interesting enough to pique my interest. But the best part of the show is going to be Joanna Coles, without question. She is a no-nonsense woman running the world’s biggest women’s fashion magazine. “Women get hired on experience,” Coles tells Barnwell. “Men get hired on promise because men are often much better at talking themselves up.”
Pass the collection plate to Coles because she is preaching.
I’ll tune in on Feb. 8 (or whenever I catch the rerun) if only to marvel at the beauty product perks or to see how much of the show is illusion vs. reality.
Until then, I’m going to hang on to the wonder that is Joanna Coles. “I heard you won bitch of the year,” designer Isaac Mizrahi says to Coles. “Do you mean editor of the year, darling? Is that what you mean?” she responds.