Pyrotechnic Close-Ups of Shoes: Watching MTV’s The City


As The City begins to nestle comfortably with its characters–most notably Erin, the ditz; Olivia, the villain; and Whitney, the clueless protagonist–the most excruciating moments come at the first half of the show, when literally nothing happens. To wit: a mind-numbing confrontation between utterly senseless faux-human Erin and her Canadian boyfriend Duncan, who’s currently desperately putting on the breaks after last week’s “I love you” calamity. Note to Duncan: there’s a reason why Erin’s relationships have all been long distance. But I digress. Just kill Duncan off already.

It’s moments like these that I start to miss The City‘s token ugly person, Nevan, but Nevan evidently has more important business to tend to. Aside from his hundred-dollar fine for spitting on the subway platform, Olivia’s cousin spent last week on the lam, dodging a probation-violation warrant stemming from the crime of picking up a hooker in West Palm Beach in 2007. Ironically, this may be a surer route to fame than the one tried in this episode by Whitney’s faux-boyfriend, i.e. attempting to take their relationship to the next level. (“I’d rather her hang out with me,” he tells a friend, manfully. Translation: “I’m not trying to be the guy who dies in the first 30 minutes of a horror flick.”) This honorable step, evidently, was prompted equally by Whitney’s lunch date with another handsome prospect and the signing of Jay’s band, Tamarama (not to be confused with Bananarama), to Universal. The message: A commitment to Whitney/The City pays off. Sort of.

At last, Whitney’s boss, Diane von Furstenberg makes an appearance. She asks Whitney “How is everything going? Are you learning anything here?” while gently flicking Whitney’s hair to the side. So chic, right? This seems like a good place to give kudos to The City for its pyrotechnic product placement: spectacular, initially disconcerting close-ups of shoes, shot extreme-style, as if the cameraman had momentarily dropped his equipment. Now that I know to expect nauseating accessory zoom-ins, I’m all for it.

At the eventual event, Chris (who works in finance at DVF) and Whitney get introduced; before he leaves he asks her, in front of all the ladies, out on a lunch date. She replies first with a giggle, and then: “That’s so bold of you–sure!” Whitney, in other words, has found her leverage against her wayward target, Jay, and after a date on which Whitney giggles about everything he says (which isn’t much), they depart back for the office, and hug goodbye. She says “see ya in the hallway”; there were, evidently, no sparks. Cue a weird look from Olivia. Chris could have been good for Whitney. It’s not his fault he isn’t from Australia, or in a band, or doesn’t look like Uncle Jesse.

So the status quo prevails. For a reality show, The City is woefully short on major drama and, sadly, Olivia continuously being annoyed that no one listens or cares about her just doesn’t quite count.–Araceli Cruz