City star Whitney Port is probably the one character person from The Hills who has kept a low enough profile to remain relatively unnoticed by those not too familiar with the show; so unnoticed that when I first heard of The City I had to promptly tune into The Hills to familiarize myself with her. Luckily enough, I found Whit just in time to see her interview with fashion mogul Diane Von Furstenburg and then announce her departure from one primetime slot, for another. This week I reluctantly showed up for Whitney's east coast arrival and, to my surprise, I might just hang around for the rest of the season.
On paper life in the city is more or less the same as it was in the hills, with one noticeable difference: Whitney is considerably more interesting than Lauren. Actually, they're both sort of boring, but at least Whitney has the whole wide-eyed and innocent angle going for her. Lauren is nice enough, but that's about it; not especially witty or engaging, just mild-mannered, pretty and inexplicably famous, where Whitney is less the celebrity, and by trade, more personable. This makes the working-girl approach of both shows much more effective on The City because the lead is infinitely more convincing in the role.
Outside of Whitney's charm, The City has, well, the city going for it. Everything is more interesting in New York, even stale conversations about pre-mature relationships (seriously, where the hell did Whit's randomly Australian love interest come from, and why does he look like Adrian Grenier from HBO's Entourage?). New York gives the show a refreshing urgency that hasn't ever been present in the excessively indulgent pace of The Hills. The show is still about absolutely nothing, but NY has enough substance to compensate for that, at least for awhile.
However, like its companion show The City is far from perfect. I will never understand how these girls manage to live in major metropolitan cities, and still fail to encounter a single person of color…like, ever. If anyone were to question if lack of diversity on television was still a relevant issue in 2009, they'd have to look no further than shows like The City, which claim to depict reality, but do so on such a limited scale that it becomes painfully obvious that popular media still has a long way to go in terms of reflecting the actual reality of America. Elsewhere, a decent chunk of the show's premise seems to rely on a whole uptown/downtown, hipsters vs. socialites beef that is so Gossip Girl I could vomit, and Whitney's co-worker/obvious-future-frenemy Olivia is so randomly vacant that she and Audrina have to be at least distantly related.
But, whatever…The City is perfectly suited for its Monday night timeslot, when I don't have shit else to do but homework for Tuesday.