Jane By Design “Pilot” Review


I have a not-so-secret passion for fashion. I devour America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway like they were fat-free potato chips. I have Vogue magazines hidden underneath my mattress. So it’s little wonder that I thoroughly enjoyed the pilot episode of Jane by Design, ABC Family’s latest original series.

The premise is your basic “teenager leading a double-life” plot; Jane Quimby (Erica Dasher) is a high school outcast who accidentally lands a job as the assistant to Gray (Andie McDowell), a fashion designer who really wants to be Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Jane’s motives are understandable…she needs the money to save the house she and her older brother, Ben, share now that their dad is dead…but it must be said that to facilitate her deception, she forges signatures and fakes documents with very little remorse. I think I kind of love that about Jane. She’s no goody-goody.

Helping her carry out her secret life is her best friend, Billy Nutter (Nick Roux), a cute, punk-hipster who is having a hidden affair with Lulu (Meagan Tandy), the ubiquitous mean girl who is out to make Jane’s life hell, either because Jane and Billy are friends or because she doesn’t like Jane’s collection of military jackets. It’s a little unclear. I did like this twist, though; looking forward to the fall-out when Jane inevitably discovers that her one friend is screwing her worst enemy.

But if Jane had any illusions about life after high school being less dramatic, they were pretty much dashed during her first week on the job. While Gray is out of the country, Jane has to juggle her demands, while keeping an eye on the new mean girl in her life, India Jordain (played by India de Beaufort…not a typo), another designer who is trying to take Gray’s job.

She also has to watch out for Jeremy Jones (Rowly Dennis), a hot British designer who is known for being a ladies man. He hits on Jane, unknowingly coming dangerously close to sex offender status, but she wisely puts him off. Wisely for two reasons, as it turns out he’s having a fling with India. Jane had better stick with her crush, Nick Fadden (Matthew Atkinson), a popular jock who starts to notice Jane when she shows up to take an AP exam in Gray’s car, wearing Gray’s designer dress.

Is this a complicated show? No, not yet. Right now, it’s very simply a fantasy for any girl who loves clothes and shoes, cute guys and drama. But there are hints of more serious things lying beneath the fluffy surface. As I said before, Jane, for all of her wide-eyed innocence, is a girl who takes risks. She pretty much steals her boss’s car and then openly challenges India in front of the big boss. She is not a shrinking violet. Which is good. Shows like this depend upon how much the audience can get behind the main character. If we don’t like her, we’re not willing to suspend our disbelief for very long.

Because let’s be honest. In the real world, this would never fly. But do we really want this world to strictly follow the rules as we know them? No. It’s far more fun to immerse ourselves in a universe where a teenager with a flair for fashion can live another life, a more exciting life. Throw in a montage of gorgeous shoes and you have the makings of a fun hour of escapism.

What did you think of the pilot? Let me know below!