“Go Ella!” Literally, Just Go.
This was good for the first 70%. The premise was intriguing and anytime Hallmark resists the urge to fall back on their go-to templates, it always feels fresh.
Ella (think Cinderella), a sewer in the fashion industry, has aspirations to be a dress designer specializing in clothes for the average woman, such as herself, both in price and size. She has already gotten some love from a premiere designer who has seen promise in her designs (think Vera Wang). She has a meet-cute with a seemingly entitled self-absorbed (but handsome!) man at a coffee shop on her way to is doing some freelance sewing work for the fashion magazine her friend works at (think Vogue). We meet her friend’s mean-girl bosses who are very much like Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt from The Devil Wears Prada. Lo and Behold, it turns out that the charming gentleman (Prince Charming, that is) whom she traded good-natured barbs with at the coffee shop is the son of the new owner of the media company who has been sent to turn things around for the struggling magazine.
I really liked that the powerful love interest, Derek, played by Ben Hollingsworth, and our heroine were aligned on the same side against Meryl and Emily who did not want to expand their fashion coverage to include anyone over a size 4. He likes her and he likes her ideas. Recognizing her talent and knowledge, he relies on her to tutor him in the ins and outs of the fashion industry. They work together to develop the digital version of the magazine to appeal to a larger audience. No pun intended. He decides to feature her and her designs much to the resentment and anger of the mean girls. The stage is perfectly set for drama, sabotage, confrontation, and a hopefully massive take-down of Meryl and Emily, the wicked stepsister and stepmother.
The precarious current state of print media and its challenges are not ignored. Usually, with Hallmark, successful independent bookstores abound and magazines and newspapers are super successful and legion to provide gainful and glamorous employment for our heroes and heroines. The set design and graphics were stylish and imaginative and the fashions actually looked fashionable. The pace was energized and the dialogue snappy.
Unfortunately, the ending was extremely weak and brought my final rating down a whole star. The big misunderstanding at the end was too dumb for words. It entailed Ella swallowing the obvious lie from mean girl #2 that Derek really didn’t care anything about her and was just using her. Why would she even stay in the same room with the nasty venomous bitch let alone listen to and believe her? Ben had never been anything but kind and supportive. Anyway, she does, and leaves the big launch party in a huff before Ben can introduce her to the fashion world as a hot new designer. She simultaneously disses the Vera “fairy godmother” Wang character and embarrasses everyone into the bargain. She not only potentially tanks her romance with the rich, powerful, and nice Ben but her dream career as well. Talk about self-hatred! Of course, the happy ending can’t be denied. All is forgiven. But then we are robbed of the pleasure of seeing the wicked stepsisters being taken down by turning them into nice girls at the last minute for no reason other than expediency. (“Go Ella!”, they cheer.) If you’re going to do Cinderella, don’t leave out the best part.
August 16, 2022