The Beautiful Life Season 1 Episode 1 (09/16/09)
Beneath the glamor and privilege of modeling lies backstabbing, insecurity, jealousy and competition. Obvious? Maybe. But it's pretty fun to watch!
As the pilot episode opens, young model Raina Marinelli has "her moment" as she is thrust onto the runway when veteran model Sonja Stone - who has been absent from the scene for unknown reasons - balks under pressure.
Both models are harboring secrets in their past.
Raina is on the run from her troubled family (her dad is in jail and soon to be getting out), while Sonja's unexplained absence from New York is revealed when she looks at a cellphone pic of ... her baby! OMG!
Chris Andrews, meanwhile, is in New York with his family on vacation from Iowa, but what he really wants is to be a hot model.
However, trying to figure out his place in the modeling world proves to be a challenge when some people are trying to take advantage of him.
It also doesn't help that he's gullible and loosely based on Ashton Kutcher, who executive produces the series. But that's neither here nor there.
In any case, Chris gets the attention of modeling agent Simon, who really wants to make him a star because he's interested in him. Sexually.
Then there's Isaac, a former child model who really wants to do music for a living, but he hasn't had a modeling gig in forever and really needs the money. He's willing to do whatever it takes - reluctantly.
Mixed in throughout is the mystery presence of Sonja, a pill-popping diva trying to reclaim her crown as the reigning supermodel. She is played by Mischa Barton, which is only too appropriate.
With that background out of the way, let's get to the details.
While Raina slays in a Zac Posen gown during New York Fashion Week, she gets massive PR and becomes the new "It Girl" while Sonja is left pondering what comes next and becomes increasingly desperate to get back in the game.
Flashbulbs pop as the applauding crowd anoints Raina the New Thing.
This is meant to be a moment of beauty and revelation, the culmination of all her hopes and dreams coming true. But Raina is not about to let it go to her head. She's a model with a heart of gold. And who needs to eat a steak.
Raina has a troublesome family and we learn by her brother's surprise visit that her appearing in fashion shows and getting her picture in magazines is not going to make her dad happy.
At her modeling agency she meets Chris Andrews, the farm body from Iowa who was sent by modeling agent Simon to do a photo shoot at the agency.
Chris and Raina bump into each other - literally! - at the agency run by Claudia (Elle Macpherson), which also represents Sonja and others.
Chris is forced to take his shirt and pants off right there in the office, and people like what they see. Especially Raina. She hearts him.
Claudia's agency also represents Isaac, even though he can't get a job to save his life, and Marisa, Raina's calculating and ambitious friend.
We see Sonja come to the office and finagle her way into a wearing a new Versace dress at the big party tonight. More on that in a bit.
The models all live together in a brownstone, which is totally unrealistic but any young person's dream scenario, with constant hooking up and partying.
Chris is told to crash there. No one wants to let him room with them, though. He meets Cole, a smart-ass and successful model, who tells him Simon's only after him because he wants him. He also meets the models' resident drug dealer.
Despite his rough start, Chris tells his family that he's staying in New York. His family reluctantly agrees.
The episode builds up to a huge party at a club, hosted by Claudia, where all the characters and their story lines intertwine.
Simon makes a move on Chris, who punches him in the mouth and gets thrown out. Isaac decides to take an attractive female agent up on her offer to help his career, even though he's basically forced to become her play thing.
Sonja arrives in the Versace dress, and is practically molested by a sketchy designer. Raina devises a plan to get that sketchball back by having him hit on her, filming it on her iPhone and then telling her she's 16 ... and then she blackmails him into giving Sonja a key modeling job.
Sonja then comes home and has a total meltdown, complete with throwing a vase of flowers at a picture of herself while screaming at the top of her lungs. At this point, it's hard not to forget this is Mischa Barton. Or laugh.
Back at the brownstone, Raina finds Chris sleeping in the corner. She invites him to sleep on her room ... on the floor, of course.