From Executive Producer, Darren Star and creator/writer Kevin Wade, “Cashmere Mafia” can easily be pitted as another “Sex and the City” or as competition for “Lipstick Jungle,” but when you eliminate the cult-status of “Sex and the City” and the semi-success of “Lipstick Jungle” what you have is a show that simply doesn’t bring anything new or exciting to the table. With an incredible cast and talented writers, I expected more from “Cashmere Mafia” and hoped that each new episode would bring more depth, more sympathy for the characters, more humor, more…something, but in the end I continue to arrive a the same conclusion – “Cashmere Mafia” just never brought enough to the table to keep viewers coming back for seconds.
Of course, there are storylines (there are only seven episodes) that follow four friends, Mia Mason (Lucy Liu), Juliet Draper (Miranda Otto), Zoe Burden (Frances O’Connor), and Caitlin Dowd (Bonnie Somerville) through the ups and downs of relationships, work, and self-identity. Mia is a high-powered publisher who lost her fiancé Jack (Tom Everett Scott) after going head-to-head with him for the same position. Juliet is Chief Operating Officer of a hotel chain, who not only struggles with people taking her position seriously, but also with her husband Davis (Peter Hermann) who’s having an affair, and her teenage daughter, Emily (Addison Timlin) who is going through a rebellious stage. Zoe is a mother of two (Nicholas Art, Peyton List), a devoted wife to husband Eric (Julian Ovenden), and an investment banker who is constantly juggling her priorities. Then there’s Caitlin, a marketing executive who suddenly finds herself attracted to another woman (Lourdes Benedicto).
The series presents expected moments in what is an unexpected world. With television, as with life, anything is possible, but few chances are taken here. Mia is set up by her parents with Jason Chung (Jack Yang), and initially rejects the idea of dating someone her parents approve of, only to find herself growing to like him the more time she spends with him. Zoe finds her career in jeopardy when newcomer, Katherine (Kate Levering) tries to take over one of her most important clients, not to mention the fact that she continues to have trouble re-establishing her role as mother to her children. Caitlin learns, for the first time, what it’s like to be in a lasting relationship that starts to advance faster than she expected when she learns that her girlfriend is having a baby. And after learning about her husbands affair, Juliet must decide what actions to take.
Despite “Cashmere Mafia” not managing to ever find its momentum or any real chemistry between its leading ladies, there is one positive about the series and that’s the cast. While I didn’t care about any of the characters or their seen-it-before dilemmas, it must be said that Lucy Liu gave a wonderful performance, and probably the most vulnerable. Somerville and O’Connor are also good with the characters they’re handed. As for Otto, she is an actress I highly respect and would willingly sit down to watch in practically any role, however, her portrayal as Juliet is a little too “uptown” and a tad too frigid to make her even slightly likeable. Thankfully she does start to warm up after a few episodes, but seeing as how there are only seven episodes, it would have been nice to see her a tad more likeable at the beginning, at least in the company of her friends.
While the idea of promoting women as powerful, capable human beings is wonderful, and welcomed in a world that continues to promote females (especially celebrities) as anything other than classy and well-rounded, “Cashmere Mafia” doesn’t manage to give its lead women enough depth and conviction to make watching the series worth while.
VIDEO: "Cashmere Mafia" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presentation quality is first-rate, as the picture appeared crisp and detailed throughout the episodes. A few minor instances of artifacting were spotted, but image quality for the majority of the running time appeared clean and smooth. Colors looked warm and bright, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was purely a "comedy mix", with little in the way of noticable surround use. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue.
EXTRAS: The special features focus on each character individually and provides brief interviews from each character about their role. The features are brief, but add a nice bit of who’s who for newcomers to the show.
“Revenge Sex: You Get As Good As You Give“
A very brief discussion with Miranda Otto about her character Juliet and the concept of having revenge sex after discovering her husband had an affair. There are a few clips as well.
“Move In Or Move Out“
Focusing on Lucy Liu’s character, Mia, Liu discusses her character’s relationship with brain surgeon, Jason Chung, as well as Mia’s inability to move on, despite not having someone to go home to. Again, there are clips here from the show.
“Kiss My Glass Ceiling“
Frances O’Connor discusses her character's role at work and her life at home. There are clips here that focus on Zoe.
“Pick A Team, Any Team“
Bonnie Somerville talks about her character, Caitlin’s role amongst her friends, as well as her self discovery throughout the episodes. Clips are included here.
“Made of Honor“
“My Mom’s New Boyfriend“
“Center Stage: Turn it Up“
Final Thoughts: “Cashmere Mafia” doesn’t manage to give its lead characters enough depth and despite some nice moments and fine performances, the leads don't have enough chemistry. The DVD presentation offers very good audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras. Those interested in this effort from "Sex and the City" producer Darren Star should try it as a rental first.