As of June 22, Kim Cattrall is back—and not just in that deliriously overhyped And Just Like That cameo. The very same day Max debuted the second season of its popular but abysmal Sex and the City sequel, Netflix dropped all 10 episodes of Glamorous, a lighthearted drama that casts Cattrall as a model turned cosmetics magnate. Surely, this scheduling choice was no coincidence. What’s surprising is that this delightfully frothy show earns its shade.
To be clear, Glamorous is no SATC clone. It’s a glossy, self-consciously campy workplace soap in the mold of Ugly Betty and The Bold Type. Like those beloved titles, it follows a clueless yet determined ingénue as they’re put through the paces of an entry-level job in a glittery industry that revolves around powerful women and thrives on interoffice competition. In a slight tweak to the typically cis-female formula, the ingénue in question is Marco Mejia, a gender non-conforming queer man played with doe-eyed charm by YouTube breakout Miss Benny.
After a meet-cute at the mall makeup counter where Marco works while channeling his dreams into social-media tutorials, Cattrall’s Madolyn Addison impulsively hires him as a second assistant at her prestigious but stodgy brand, Glamorous by Madolyn. Early misadventures at the office establish a potential rival in ambitious first assistant Venetia (Jade Payton), a nemesis in Madolyn’s gym-rat son and sales director Chad (Zane Phillips), and an admirer in nerdy designer Ben (Michael Hsu Rosen). While each represents a familiar type—and soap-opera tropes, like the love triangle that soon ensnares Marco, are part of the fun—creator Jordon Nardino (Star Trek: Discovery) builds unexpected warmth and depth into these characters.
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She may well wear Prada, but Madolyn is firmly on the side of the angels. A workaholic perfectionist who tends to be even harder on herself than she is on her staff, this mogul of a certain age harbors insecurities about her waning relevance. With Madolyn rescued from the role of villain, it’s the company’s struggles, along with Marco and his co-workers’ love lives, that fuel the show’s ample drama. Glamorous is in a rut. A beauty conglomerate has sent over a nosy consultant (played with enjoyable broadness by Kim’s Convenience alum Nicole Power) to kick tires. And employees are divided on whether such an acquisition would be better for the brand than the kind of organic evolution that could make the career of a young hire like Marco.
Glamorous doesn’t always escape the glibness that so often afflicts this type of show. But it’s no braindead Emily in Paris, either; the brisk pacing and the cast’s charisma make up for the occasional half-baked plot or clunker joke. The tone is fashion-magazine breezy. With characters who cut across sexual orientations, scenes set at a scrappy club night called “Dumb Bitch,” a story line that gently sends up the commercialization of Pride, and guest appearances by LGBTQ celebs including Joel Kim Booster and drag star Monét X Change, it’s a very queer show—one that moves effortlessly through a spectrum of identity. In other words: it makes Carrie & Co. look pretty creaky by comparison. And just like that… a new summer binge is born.
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