I would like everyone to meet my new best friend Juliet, who works in "fashion PR" and has been living in London with her husband and children for three years. Juliet is, to put it nicely, too much—but she's madly charming and frank in the kind of way that will very likely make her one of the villains of this inaugural season of Ladies of London. (Possible future episode titles: "Juliet Makes That Face" and "Juliet Makes That Other Face.") The saving grace is that by the end of this premiere Caroline, her social opposite but spiritual sister in charming frankness, declared that she "liked" Juliet. I believe her!
We're meant to understand that Caroline is in every way so much better than everyone else, the very darling of British society. Bravo even does most of my job for me:
The problem, from a narrative perspective, is that Caroline can't stop speaking her mind. She won't quite be "packaged," unlike everything else: hungry finally for some kind of real reality that exists beyond the coastal cities of America, where power and fame and money are more than abstractions, Bravo definitively, immediately makes LOL a class struggle. Our six castmates are sorted into "the Brits" (Caroline, Alexander McQueen's BFF Annabelle, and a former model named Caprice) and "the Americans" (Juliet, California gurl Marissa, and tabloid favorite Noelle). Caprice isn't actually British and Marissa is actually on the verge of getting her citizenship, but it's the labels that matter.
The premiere is very deft for everything it implies, while also not being very insane at all. No one fights, really. At one point, Juliet and Marissa and Noelle are out for tea and we are meant to understand that Juliet was badgering Noelle about Noelle's fiancé, who has been in and out of prison. I instead suspect that Marissa and Juliet were just trying to figure out if Noelle was, like, OK and, you know, what's it like with a boyfriend who might also be a criminal? Maybe I'm reading too much between the editing.
Caprice is seven months pregnant with a boyfriend that she loves. Judging from the array of magazine covers that flash across the screen, she also used to be a very successful model. Now she runs a lingerie business, that Housewives Holy Grail.
More facts about Caprice:
Caprice is also the group's pivot. In a classic, Housewives-ian lunch, she tutors Noelle in the finer points of London society. In the confessional, she compliments Noelle on being a hustler.
(Noelle's face so rarely moves at all but this is what happens when you talk about Noelle getting what she wants.)
More facts about Noelle:
Caroline doesn't have much of a storyline at all and it's possible to imagine a bleak near-future where producers have already booted her off of the show. This would be terrible: Caroline is upper-crust without being withering; reserved without being snobby; savoring one-liners without stretching them out into operettas. When she was pregnant, she craved liver.
(Caroline's face when she says the word "liver.")
I do not like Annabelle at all, even though she clearly very much misses Alexander McQueen, here alternately described as her husband, brother, and best friend. Do you think Annabelle is going to win her charity horse race? The rules seemed awfully nebulous to me. When she was describing it, I kept imagining unintentional air quotes around all the wrong words: "celebrity women" have been asked to "raise money" for a "school in Ethiopia."
Marissa is apparently beloved by no one even though they are probably all going to start hanging out with her. It will be interesting to see how easily/quickly the show will be able to edit out her self-awareness, her breezy SoCal certainty in her own human/poodle-sized charm. Watch her face in conversation: She's actually listening! But since this is all about class, we can instead just talk about how Marissa's entire social currency is guaranteed by her husband's career as the owner of Boujis, which is frequented by Royals and award-winners alike.
More facts about Boujis:
Because Caprice invited Noelle and because Caprice is friends with Caroline and Annabelle and Noelle is friends with Juliet and Marissa, everyone meets at Polo In The Park, the "official start" to London's social season. The dress code is smart but not too smart. No hats. Cut to poor Noelle:
The outing goes well but not too well, and even kind of not well at all if we're just judging from the confessionals, where almost every one of the six in turn re-draw the battle lines. They're all wealthy but not all in the right way, I guess. Caprice is a Brit because the Americans say that she is because that's how she appears to them. Systems of dominance and all that.
But most importantly: Who was your favorite, as we head into the rest of the season? My impromptu power ranking is:
[Images via Bravo]