Anthropologie Somehow Rendered Interesting

rsz 83851284 Anthropologie Somehow Rendered InterestingIt’s not clear why the Sundance Channel decided that now was the time to launch a show about the excitement and importance of consumption, but they have, and it’s called “Man Shops Globe.”

The man in question is Keith Johnson. He is the buyer-at-large for Anthropologie; or, as Heather Havrilesky puts it, “a creative professional, one who’s exceptionally good at spotting exactly the sorts of rusty old bullshit that anxious, existentially wobbly, overworked yuppies find hopelessly, thrillingly, reassuringly authentic.”

Johnson gets to travel the world in search of wares for the store. He validates the stuff by marking it up, and the stuff in turn validates buyers by flattering their sense of themselves as quirky and tasteful. This is a scheme that’s pretty easy to criticize, as Havrilesky and others ably have.

But none of them really gets at the dopey banality that is Anthropologie’s other big problem. Anthropologie is boring. Anthropologie is thinking that France is pretty. Anthropopologie is a knee-length floral-print skirt paired with embellished flats. Anthropologie is naming your baby “Emma.” In one of the more mortifying chapters of the Daily Transom’s early professional life, she worked at an Anthropologie in Palo Alto, California; and she can say with confidence that nothing in her experience there suggested the potential for compelling entertainment.

Hank Steuver characterizes the store’s target demographic as women who want  to “be the actress Zooey Deschanel.” Really, though, it skews more Eat, Pray, Love than (500) Days of Summer. Hats off to Urban Outfitters, Inc. (the store’s parent company): they got a show made that burnishes their image as adventurous and interesting–all suburban-mothering, scented-candle-buying evidence to the contrary.