Gallery Girls isn't about the New York City art scene. It's not about young girls following their dreams. It's not a real-life Sex and the City, where women band together to get through their daily lives.
Hell no. Gallery Girls is about the girl fights.
There haven't been any physical altercations (yet), but there's been enough shit-talking, eye-rolling, and general dislikery amongst the group of Manhattanites and Brooklynites, two groups pitted against each other by the show's producers in an attempt to stir up some drama at the outset. As the show evolves, that tension is becoming less rooted in where its characters live, and more rooted in actual personality squabbles.
Guess which is more fun to watch.
Previously on Gallery Girls: Flying pasta! Amy whining! Cash troubles at End of Century! Amy can't get laid! (See: whining.) And Maggie loves Eli, maybe?
We Toaster-filter our way into Eli's gallery, where as usual, Eli and Liz are chilling at their desks while Maggie does the important work of keeping strangers' dogs hydrated. Eli tells Maggie her next task is to count the tiny pebbles in the bins where his bonsai trees are growing, ensuring that there are exactly the same amount of pebbles in each one. Even by stupid, pretentious art standards that sounds totally insane. "Eventually it has to be done by someone," Eli says matter-of-factly.
Maggie actually does this, which shows that she's a) nobly invested in doing her job the very best she can, or b) convinced it'll make good TV, because seriously, Maggie, you know he's not going to check your work.
While Maggie counts away, Eli returns upstairs and tells Liz about his latest expression of borderline fetishy dominance over Maggie. Liz looks genuinely stunned, which is an appropriate reaction to a man who just forced an unpaid staffer to count muddy rocks for his amusement. "Better her than you," Eli reminds her. "Yeah, I guess," Liz agrees, which is an appropriate reaction to the casual threat of becoming Eli's punching bag. Not that that would happen to Liz. You know who her father is, right?
To her credit, Liz does call Eli out about the pebbles at dinner ... which they take without inviting Maggie ... who is still at the gallery counting pebbles. Eli also takes this opportunity to say the word China about a million times in a row.
At End of Century, meanwhile, money problems continue. The gallery has ditched its last artist without selling any work, opting instead for some dude named Ethan, who apparently makes wooden frames and paintings of clouds in the sky. We are assured many times by Chantal that his work is amazing, which probably doesn't bode well for him. Claudia, meanwhile, is busy making everyone (audience included) feel really uncomfortable by negotiating prices in the most unsure, submissive manner possible. (Eli would love this.) Chantal voice-overs that it's painful to watch her negotiate pricing with Ethan, and I realize Chantal and I agree on something, and that makes me even more uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, Liz hangs out with her mother for a night of home cooking, which of course involves lobster, because she's rich, remember? Both Liz and Mama Margulies don matching white t-shirts to cook, though, and it's pretty adorable. Then Mom remembers feeding Liz escargot in her carseat, and oh yeah, they're rich.
We do get more details about Liz's sordid past, though: cocaine, stealing, long nights partying on South Beach. Gallery Girls: They're just like us! It created a rift between her and her father that's never healed.
Y'know who else is creating a rift between herself and her parents? Angela, who prepares for an art event by dressing in an outfit that belongs on Zorro, calling it "puritan slut" fashion. Across the country, her parents give up their successful careers as doctors, change their names, and flee to Siberia to escape the embarrassment.
Next, Amy and Kerri meet their boss Sharon at an art fair, where Sharon gives them an assignment: Choose one piece of art that catches your eye. Sharon says it's because she wants to get a sense of their taste. I say it's because the producers knew Amy would fail this test, even though she assures the camera, "I have good taste." When was the last time you heard someone tasteful say those words?
After the fair, Amy meets Maggie at a bar called Dorian's. Maggie has brought her friend Eric at Amy's request -- he's apparently one of these "cute boys in sweater vests" she's so fond of. Between embarrassing come-ons, Amy pulls Maggie into the bathroom, where she then starts in on a lecture about how "real" she is. Again, when was the last time you heard a genuine person tell you how "real" she is?
Switching to Liz in her art class feels like a breath of fresh air. She's taking instruction, seems committed, and has a very humanizing confessional in which she explains that perfecting the way things look on her canvas makes her feel in control. Then someone steps on her canvas, and she has a minor hissyfit. (Because she's rich!) But it all works out in the end, and we get life lessons about parents and love and living for yourself. Yawn.
Meanwhile, Amy and Kerri meet with Sharon to discuss the pieces they chose. This will not go well. Kerri chooses a piece made of plastic bags collected by the artist from cities all over the world. Her pitch sounds kinda cheesy ("the piece just really spoke to me"), but Sharon agrees.
Amy, on the other hand, pitches a Damien Hirst piece. We don't even get to see the thing; the name Hirst alone is enough for Sharon to shut her down. And now, our "Who Hurt You, Amy" moment of the episode: Amy, why can't you trust your own instincts? Why can't you be honest with yourself, and those around you, about the things you like? Why are you so obsessed with status, and embarrassingly eager to please? Who hurt you, Amy? Who?
Kerri, on the other hand, is psyched that Sharon liked her choice, because it means that someday she might be able to curate art for a hotel. Choosing bland, unoffensive paintings to line the walls of a glorified hostel? Dare to dream, Kerri.
Later, Chantal has planned a jewelry trunk show at End of Century, which is impressive, because it means that Chantal has actually done some sort of work. Maybe I pegged you wrong, Chantal. But probably not.
Angela, meanwhile, goes on a blind date with an older man, because she's always had a "middle-aged man fantasy." Schlubby dudes across the five boroughs immediately start planning nightly sojourns to Williamsport. This particular schlub, however, fails to impress. He shoots in film, not digital, "so it could never work." Wait, I thought film was vintage and hip? Not anymore? You kids these days, with your DSLRs and your iPhones and your Gmail and your RELENTLESS SNOBBERY. Run, schlubby dude. Run away and never look back.
Hey, remember how hard Kerri works? Remember what a spoiled jerk Amy is? The Gallery Girls producers would like to remind you, just in case. We get a mash-up of scenes of Kerri's relentless networking while Amy gets her hair done, something she says she does once a week. "I know a lot about hair," she brags. It's too easy, guys. From this point forward, I'm boycotting Amy jokes, because it's just depressing.
Also depressing: Liz's meal with her father. She says she doesn't get to see Mr. Margulies very much (aside from Episode One, I guess), but starts complaining about her life and her job right away. Yeah, probably not an ideal strategy, Liz. Her dad predictably shuts her down with logic, which is probably where Liz gets that no-nonsense attitude of hers. So she tries a different tactic, and shows him the piece she was working on in class earlier. Dad has no response. Hey, I get you're an art guy, man, but it's your kid. Say something nice.
Silver lining: At Liz's place after the dinner, her boyfriend Bobby cheers her up by suggesting they hang some of her work around the apartment. Aw. Liz says a lot of guys wouldn't want to put up with a woman with daddy issues. I'm pretty sure a lot of men actively seek out that sort of thing, actually.
Back at Angela's place, she and a few of her "gays" (that term, gawd) are planning to launch a show of Angela's art photography. Yawn. Angela wears a sweatshirt with a giant frosted doughnut on the front, which is clearly very whimsical and ironic and not just some fugly thrift store find from the '80s.
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Chantal's trunk show goes well. She sells a ton of jewelry, which makes her embarrassed for Claudia, who has yet to sell a single piece of art. Yawn.
Jane Holzer, New York art scene "major player," stops by Eli's gallery. Liz gets an introduction, and Maggie gets to fold envelopes and get ignored. Eli has an ever-so-slight, entirely infuriating lisp when he speaks. Holzer seems politely unimpressed. The end.
Next week: Maggie's angry! Angela can't find a venue for her shitty art photography! Liz tells Amy, "You're fake sometimes"! Amy makes a face I can't describe because of the boycott! We shall all be tested!