More than one person has asked me if “Fashion Queens” is for real. They’re not really joking, either. If any show looked more like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch than an actual program, it’s this one.
The fashion-focused talk show, which features cross-dressing Atlanta hairstylists Derek J and Miss Lawrence (well known to fans of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”) as well as New York “fashion maven” Bevy Smith, appears to have a budget of about $25, give or take. Most of this appears to be spent on the set’s wall padding, shoes and background wigs. Yes, background wigs. I think we’re supposed to feel as if we’re sitting in the closet of a “Real Housewives” star, but this might be a little closer to a porn star’s boudoir.
The show is intended to be a sassy, snarky summary of the fashion do’s and don’t’s of the week, though it’s usually more sass than anything else. Really, sometimes it seems like most of the conversation is exclusively made up of slang. If you played a “Fashion Queens” drinking game that demanded you take a sip whenever someone said “No T no shade!” and chugged when someone asked, “Was that a read?” you’d suffer alcohol toxicity before the first commercial break. The action takes place in front of a live studio audience, which we only really notice when we see a bad red carpet look (hooting!).
Still, “Fashion Queens” isn’t too different from E!’s “Fashion Police,” though that show has an actual comedian (Joan Rivers) with paid joke writers and an actual fashion expert (George Kotsiopoulos). “Fashion Queens” is more like hanging out at a hair salon and listening to people who’ve read the latest issue of Us magazine bitch about who wore it best while they trim bangs.
Oddly enough, that’s part of the show’s charm. The cheap set, the seemingly unrehearsed banter, and the public access TV-esque look all make for a fresh take on a familiar format. Yes, it’s hard to believe this is on a network, but it’s almost a relief to see something that doesn’t feel carefully scripted (which can’t be said for most of the reality programming on the network).
I can’t really think of another show that starts off with the stars comparing the designer labels of what they’re wearing, and while the trio doesn’t have the easy repartee of old pals, they seem to get along just fine. Bevy, who’s given the heavy lifting of keeping the conversation moving and reading introductions, may be the odd (wo)man out opposite Miss Lawrence and Derek J, but she’s also the fastest on her feet. It seems as if the other two spend more time on deciding which high heels to wear than on thinking about what to say, but given that the entire show is about the importance of what’s on the outside, that doesn’t seem like the worst thing. Watching the three together, they seem to be having fun, though Miss Lawrence often seems to be striking poses she perfected in the bathroom mirror before filming. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. She does strike an excellent pose, and you’ll never see more artfully applied lipstick outside of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
I’m hoping that, if “Fashion Queens” returns, it doesn’t change much, if at all. A nicer set or sharper writing would probably ruin everything. Really.
Did you watch “Fashion Queens”?