`Beautiful People' shows comely but unconvincing facade


August 07, 2005|By Hal Boedeker | Hal Boedeker,ORLANDO SENTINEL

The drama Beautiful People certainly delivers on its title. It presents marvelous moms, drop-dead daughters, stellar students and comely cads.

Most of the beautiful people - or "BPs" - attend a prestigious New York high school. Gideon, an endearing geek, explains the importance of the "BP" title. "It's just much easier to loathe something when it has a name," he says.

It would be easy to loathe Beautiful People, a family drama that debuts at 9 p.m. tomorrow on the ABC Family cable channel. This odd, unconvincing show is stuck uneasily somewhere between Gilmore Girls and Melrose Place.

Like Gilmore Girls, Beautiful People offers an ebullient young mother, Lynn Kerr (former Melrose star Daphne Zuniga), who often seems more immature than her offspring. The delightful Zuniga makes Beautiful People somewhat bearable.

Lynn has relocated from New Mexico to New York after her husband left her. Younger daughter Sophie (Sarah Foret), a sophomore, has a scholarship to the ritzy private school where the BPs congregate. Older daughter Karen (Torrey DeVitto), 18, hopes to graduate to big-league modeling.

Beautiful People drops Sophie between two very different boys who understandably become infatuated with her. Awkward Gideon Lustig (Ricky Mabe) falters in expressing himself. Smooth Nicholas Fiske (Jackson Rathbone) slowly realizes he can open up to Sophie and becomes dissatisfied with his nasty and condescending girlfriend Paisley (Jordan Madley).

In the strange-coincidences department - especially for a city as large as New York - Nicholas is the son of big-time publisher Julian Fiske (James McCaffrey), who loved Sophie's mom, Lynn, years ago.

Julian, who is unhappily married, still adores Lynn.

Beautiful People ranges from daffy to dark. If the show were sweeter, it might make a good family drama. If the show were funnier, it could offer a charming variation on the timeless fantasy of living in New York.

If the show were more tart, it might turn into an addictive soap opera or a guilty pleasure.

As it stands now, Beautiful People is easy to resist.

The Orlando Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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