The Rachel Zoe Project’s ratings are down a lot in this fifth season of the Bravo show. Radar Online reports that in the 18 to 49 demographic, the audience has shrunk by 40%. Does that mean that this show is just, like, so last season? Or could the numbers indicate that the program has peaked and is now on a steady downhill journey that suggests the show has become just too much of a sham for viewers to keep up with? Really, everything in The Project serves as a promotional vehicle for what Zoe is working on. We’re treated to some adorable shots of fancy baby Skyler and some sort of funny spats between her and Rodger, but mostly it’s a big commercial for things that will make the Zoe clan’s life that much more fabulous (her Jockey deal, her clothing line, etc.), which can contribute a disingenuousness to the show. Include an episode like last night’s about how uncomfortable she is being famous and the whole enterprise only becomes that much more disingenuous. Audiences are savvy enough to know that reality shows are not exactly vehicles of candor or modesty, but they aren’t flat-out stupid, and the least they can ask of their most beloved reality stars is that they just pretend they’re modest, genuine people despite their mega fame. You don’t see Kim Kardashian going around acting like she doesn’t like being the center of attention.
Or maybe part of the problem is that the way Rachel and Mandana say “ehrmahgah” instead of “oh my god” makes them sound like Snooki grunting and that’s just too annoying? It’s anyone’s guess, maybe.
Anyway, last night’s episode perhaps offered a window into why ratings are down. Because it was nothing more than a neatly edited summation of some of Team Zoe’s first-world crises. A list of them here:
3. 1. Rodger doesn’t approve when Rachel buys Skyler white leather Gucci driving loafers.
Rodger explains, logically, that such purchases are silly because the baby will just grow out of them in, like, two hours. Rachel gets defensive and says she could stop buying Rodger clothes because he keeps getting fatter. To which Rodger replies, fine, don’t buy me clothes. As if it matters if Rachel shops for him — a man who makes a special trip to the luxury candle and incense boutique surely has no problem popping into John Varvatos to pick up some pinkie rings and leather jackets all on his own.
4. 2. Rachel has to view her Jockey billboard even though she doesn’t want to.
But Mandana coaxes Zoe into her Zoe-mobile (which, if you haven’t been paying attention the past five seasons, is a luxury SUV and only a luxury SUV) by cooing that she looks like “Rachel Zoe Barbie.” Hunched in the passenger seat under her hat, her limbs folded within her flouncy black wrap dress, Zoe allows Mandana to cart her to the best viewing spot of the ad, which includes her and a model wearing some kind of underwear. “I couldn’t have more clothes on. Which, could you imagine if it was the reverse? Ugh,” Rachel tells the camera. Actually, yes?
6. 3. If Rachel and Rodger get an apartment in New York, Rodger might not know where his favorite black tux is.
For all the bitching Rodger has been doing about getting a place in NYC, you would think he had a good reason, like that they couldn’t afford it! Or it was a waste of money! But no — the real reason he doesn’t want it is NOT because his baby boy might not know where his home is OR because it’s an extravagance that they just don’t need, it’s because he might not know where all his favorite things are just when he wants them. And, “that would drive me crazy.” To that all I can say is: $@#$(*&%#$@#^$*&()
8. 4. Rachel gets ink on her blotter when she’s using her computer-less desk in the office.
Do you even know what a blotter is? Do you even know what a pen is?
9. 5. Rachel just doesn’t want to deal with the celebrity part of her life.
How ridiculous is it to talk about how uncomfortable you are being a celebrity on your reality TV show that’s run successfully for five seasons? Rachel says many times this episode that she knows she has to be famous but OH WOE! she just doesn’t feel comfortable in front of the camera. Rodger even calls her a “reluctant celeb” over his manly golf outing. Meanwhile her actions suggest the exact opposite — she knows exactly what to do to her hair and makeup to look perfect on camera, she knows exactly how to pose to look perfect on camera, and, oh yeah, she basically lives her perfect life on camera.
11. 6. Rachel has to figure out how to create the style of an “everything woman” for Elle magazine.
Again Rachel is thrust outside of her circle of comfort when the delightful creative director of Elle, Joe Zee, calls to ask her to style a shoot that essentially encapsulates a woman who “has it all,” or as Rachel tells her styling assistant, “an everything woman.” She tells Eileen she wants people to look at the story and understand, “After you have a baby, don’t put on a polyester suit.” She adds: “I want women to look at this story and say, ‘OK, maybe I should try a little harder.’” Doesn’t the child birth and being a mom aspect constitute trying hard enough?
13. 7. This is truly shocking but: Rachel has to go to Whole Foods herself.
According to Eileen, she wears a big fur hat and 6-inch platforms in order to make it through the pronounced upper-middle-class nature of the experience.
15. 8. Rachel hasn’t been able to carry backpacks until The Row started making them.
When every convenience is brought to you, you don’t need to bring convenience to yourself until it comes in the form of stitched-together crocodile hides that sell for the same price as a BMW.
16. 9. Rachel wants to incorporate fanny packs into her clothing line/life.
She gets away with this by calling them “waist packs.”
She tries to style herself in Tom Ford for the Elle pictures, but then something about it just isn’t working in the waist area. So she has to steal the clothes right off the model for herself, which Joe calls her out on. “Tom Ford for the model and Chanel for me,” she proclaims. “I think it’s a win-win situation. These are what you call classy problems.” Or… tacky problems.
20. 11. Rachel’s driver takes her to the wrong photo studio.
You know she’s arrived at the right place when a black SUV pulls up with her hair and makeup person and “waist pack” modeler Joey sticking prominently out the open back window, like a happy dog along for the car ride. Oh, how his Season 5 star has fallen!
The person from her company who worked on the shoot told the Jockey people that Rachel isn’t good with teleprompters and really prefers cue cards — to go with the chisel and stone tablet she keeps on her office desk, perhaps? Anyway, when finally situated in front of that newfangled word reader of the future, Rachel stumbles over a few lines, like “shapewear tanks” and the word “cheeky.” Maybe Rachel’s inability to say the words had to do with the fact that deep down inside she knows what all women know: that shapewear is the devil’s work brought from the realm of Hades to this great earth to bring extreme discomfort on all women who feel self-conscious enough about their bodies to squeeze themselves into it. Or could it be, as she says, that everything in her life — like having her son — works better when she wings it? Why plan momentous life events like having kids or doing Jockey commercials? It just doesn’t make sense now, does it? Not in Rachel’s glorious first-world life of white-upholstered patio furniture and chauffeurs and photo shoots and L.A. billboards, that’s for sure.