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TV Series Review

Forget the Big Apple. New York City—at least the one showcased in NBC's Lipstick Jungle—is more akin to a gigantic, juicy passion fruit. Jungle is about the perils of being rich, powerful and a woman in the wilds of Manhattan. It focuses on three such females: Wendy (Brooke Shields), a movie studio exec who, when she says jump, sends a dozen underlings bouncing around like grasshoppers; Nico (Kim Raver), the magazine editor with a loving husband and a twentysomething boyfriend; and Victoria (Lindsay Price), a former "it" fashion designer who has fallen on hard times and taken refuge in the arms of her billionaire beau.

In other words, it's Sex and the City part two.

While Jungle's language is cleaner than City's and its sex scenes less revealing, this estrogen-laced dramedy (similar to ABC's Cashmere Mafia) is executive-produced by City creator Candace Bushnell. Every episode features at least one steamy sex scene full of passionate kisses and lingering shots of exposed flesh. When characters aren't having impulsive sex on churning washing machines or food-laden tables, they're usually talking about sex.

The show does serve up family-friendly messages now and then. Wendy obviously cares for her kids. And when a teen star's mother/manager tells Wendy that her daughter wants the lead in a sexually explicit film, the showbiz insider tells Mommy Dearest, "Your client needs a mother right now more than a manager." But those moments do little to mitigate Jungle's shortcomings. Indeed, the show is a walking tour of the Seven Deadly Sins. Imagine a Barbie dream house boasting a well-stocked bar and an endless supply of contraception.

The show's biggest sin, topping even lust, is avarice. These women live extravagant lives which, not surprisingly, fail to satisfy them. They want more. Bigger careers. Better sex. Happier families. Firmer abs. They cling to their success with an air of desperation, as if their six-figure paychecks validate their lives.

Bushnell said recently, "I am a very strong believer that we should be telling teenage girls that a great deal of fulfillment and happiness comes from having a career, from working hard and from really pursuing achievements." What Lipstick Jungle doesn't acknowledge, however, is that such ambition has a price. Even for the rich. Beyond the consequences of sin, anything worth doing requires time and resources. Marriages. Careers. Children. We invest in what's most important to us and only have a limited amount of time and energy to spend.

When push comes to shove, life is about choices. And as long as Bushnell and Co. choose to glamorize immoral lifestyles, families should choose to stay out of the Jungle.

Episodes Reviewed: Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28, Mar. 6, 2008

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Paul Asay

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