TV

Katy Keene pilot review: The Devil Wears Prada meets Fame

Katy Keene is a fun and inspiring mash-up of The Devil Wears Prada and Fame, and The CW’s answer to Freeform’s The Bold Type.

Katy Keene (Lucy Hale) is working hard for a promotion to assistant buyer at the prestigious Lacy’s department store, while designing and making her own clothes on the side. Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), Katy’s new roommate, has left “the murder capital of the world” in her rear view mirror and is finally going after her dream of pop stardom.

Dancer, singer and drag queen Jorge/Ginger Lopez (Jonny Beauchamp), another roommate of Katy’s whose family owns the building and a bodega, wants to see his name in lights on a Broadway marquee. K.O. Kelly (Zane Holtz), Katy’s longtime boyfriend, is a bouncer, personal trainer and aspiring pro boxer. And Pepper Smith (Julia Chan) is a British socialite who’s ambitious, intellectual and well-connected.

Welcome to Katy Keene‘s New York. It’s been waiting for you.

Katy Keene — “Pilot” — Image Number: KK101e_1886rb.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Julia Chan as Pepper Smith, Jonny Beauchamp as Jorge Lopez and Ashleigh Murray as Josie McCoy — Photo: Barbara Nitke/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Katy Keene gets off to a solid start with a pilot that brings the epic highs and lows of going after your dreams in your early 20s. Now, yes, it’s fairly formulaic. It’s not necessarily groundbreaking, though refreshingly diverse and queer. And it’s unapologetically optimistic and Millennial. But, so what?

Like Freeform’s The Bold Type, it’s not going to be everyone’s perfect fit, but it’s not trying to be. Just as Katy has a keen eye for design, series developers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Michael Grassi have a good sense of their audience. And based on the pilot, that target audience is in for a fun ride, bolstered by strong performances from the main cast.

Speaking of the main cast, here’s a look at their journeys in the series premiere, except for Pepper, who remains a bit of a mystery for now. She is a good hype woman for her friends, though.

Katy Keene — “Pilot” — Image Number: KK101g_2910rf.jpg — Pictured: Lucy Hale as Katy Keene — Photo: Barbara Nitke/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Katy

From almost promoted to demoted to promoted to an even better position, all within just a few days, Katy goes on a quite roller coaster ride. While she makes clothes for herself and her friends, she’s put her dream of becoming a professional designer on the backburner in the interest of a more steady gig: assistant to Miranda Priestly… I mean, Gloria Grandbilt (Katherine LaNasa).

But she does push herself to progress in her career at Lacy’s, taking initiative and making herself an invaluable fashion consultant for clients. In fact, she actually does her job a bit too well, inciting the jealousy of Gloria and fellow assistant Amanda (Heléne Yorke), a snob from the Upper East Side. It doesn’t help that Katy’s own designs attract a client’s interest. (Plus, Katy is from the Lower East Side, so she’s a “gutter girl.”)

Anyway, Katy comes out on top in the end after François (Nathan Lee Graham) puts her designs on display in Lacy’s main storefront window and invites her to join his department.

Katy Keene — “Pilot” — Image Number: KK101a_0012r.jpg — Pictured: Ashleigh Murray as Josie McCoy — Photo: Barbara Nitke/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Josie

Unfortunately, Josie’s whirlwind first week in New York is less A Star is Born and more SVU. While out and about looking for a job to support herself, Josie meets a busker in Central Park and, naturally, starts singing with her, drawing a crowd.

Among the happy listeners is Alexander Cabot (Lucien Laviscount), who offers her his card and invites her to a studio audition the next day. Unbeknownst to Josie, until her friends fill her in, Alex is from one of NY’s most prominent and powerful families.

Josie’s audition goes well. Katy, who comes along as her “manager,” is blown away. Alex says he needs the board’s approval but wants to sign Josie. Then, he invites Josie to dinner, and they spend the night together.

Josie is in for a rude awakening at the board meeting, though. They unanimously reject her and, apparently, the record label division of his father’s business is basically dead anyway. Adding insult to injury, Alex’s sister, Alexandra, the VP of their father’s company, makes it clear that Josie is not the first girl in a park that Alex has given his card to.

Josie stays remarkably positive, though, later performing “Cut To The Feeling” at local club Molly’s Crisis.

Katy Keene — “Pilot” — Image Number: KK101d_0515rb.jpg Ð Pictured: Jonny Beauchamp as Ginger — Photo: David Giesbrecht/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

Jorge/Ginger

While his drag career at Molly’s Crisis is thriving, Jorge’s dream of originating a role on Broadway is proving to be soul-crushing. Despite nailing the choreo at his Mannequin: The Musical audition, Jorge is told by the director that he’s not “tough” enough to be a male dancer in the chorus.

Admirably refusing to code-switch for the sake of fame, Jorge believes he may have to abandon his dream. But Katy points out that he can be true to himself by being someone else, or rather a different part of himself: Ginger.

So he re-auditions as Ginger. Unfortunately, the director does not come around and in fact, doubles down on the rejection. But Ginger isn’t about to let him have the last say. In a clapback for the ages, she calls him out for not recognizing the talent right in front of him and vows that one day he will know her name.

Katy Keene — “Pilot” — Image Number: KK101f_2288r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Lucy Hale as Katy Keene and Zane Holtz as K.O. Kelly — Photo: Barbara Nitke/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

K.O.

While Katy’s future up in the air, K.O. gets a call to come train at Joe Frasier’s legendary boxing gym in Philly. K.O. tells Katy he thinks they should move there together, if she doesn’t get her promotion, that is. Katy does consider the idea but, with her future looking brighter than ever by the end of the hour, she ultimately tells him she wants to stay in New York, but she wants him to go to Philly, so he can follow his dream too.

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K.O. supports Katy’s decision to stay, but he doesn’t plan to leave if she’s not. He doesn’t want to do long-distance because he doesn’t want to live without her… ever. *cue proposal*

As Katy quips in her voiceover, “to be continued, obviously.”