The CW’s Stylista has been on for a few weeks now and from a critical perspective (that is, ours), the show is kind of genius. So why doesn’t it have the ratings to match?
It has all the requisite reality show ingredients: The bitchy Megan has more personality in one strand of her stringy hair than all of the current contestants on America’s Next Top Model combined. The 20-year-old N.Y.U. journalism girl, Devin (who thought she had the fashion magazine world figured out because she edited the school fashion magazine for some time), sadly reminds us of the way we were coming out of the very same institution. And we even can’t help but find the character with the unfortunate nickname of "Boobs" sort of endearing.
Then there is Anne Slowey, the Elle fashion editor that we expected to be a nightmare after that whole media-manufactured feud with Project Runway‘s Nina Garcia, but who actually turned out to be refreshingly candid and pleasant off-camera. Like the time she admitted to us that fashion is sort of an absurd and ridiculous industry—so true! Or the time she told us that she’s been wearing the same pair of leggings and a tank top in her office every day for the past two and a half weeks in protest of the heat being turned up. (Is this how Ms. Garcia was before she began acting like a pseudo-celebrity?)
But somehow, the ratings for the show just haven’t caught up with our overall enthusiasm about it. According to Nielsen, America’s Next Top Model—which employs the same formula and executive producer, Ken Mok—is the CW’s most watched show, averaging 3.9 million viewers. (Though to be fair, it’s currently on its 11th "cycle," which has given Tyra Banks plenty of time to grow her audience.) Top Model is followed closely behind by, eh, Smallville? Then comes the new 90210 remake, Gossip Girl, and One Tree Hill, which all get right around 3 million viewers.
And while it seems like Stylista should be next on the popularity index, it’s not. It’s beat out by Supernatural and some show called Privileged, which we’d love to tell you about if we even knew when it was on. Only then does Stylista appear on the ratings scale with a measly 1.9 million viewers, just beating out the worst of CW’s crop, like The Game. (For a point of comparison, network prime-time shows like Dancing with the Stars and CSI are currently averaging about 19.9 and 18.9 million viewers respectively.)
Sure, Stylista isn’t the kind of highbrow, dinner-conversation entertainment like Mad Men or 30 Rock, whose low viewership is always attributed to audiences "not getting it." Maybe we should give it some time. After all, it did take us a couple of episodes to fully appreciate the Slowey brand of brilliance.