The other night I saw a rerun of "Plain Jane" a television show that originally ran last summer. Host Louise Roe helps a young woman transform from a "plain jane" into a confident, well dressed, beautiful woman. The show makes a token effort at being about inner transformation and empowerment (yeah, I know that word is so 2002) but it's really about the clothes, hair and makeup. It's a very silly show and, despite its attempts to depict inner growth through self-esteem exercises like swimming with sharks (I told you it was silly) and mixed martial arts training, it's still all about the glamour ("u" included because Louise Roe is British, as every perfect fairy godmother should be).
Louise helps a girl who's kind of drab and plain in her ordinary life transform into someone different. She takes the girl to chic boutiques and the best makeup and hair artists. Suddenly, the plain jane becomes a beautiful, well dressed woman. Her true self was always there, just waiting to be revealed. The shows ends with a blind date in a romantic setting with the man that "the jane" has a secret crush on. The man only knows the girl as a plain jane, is surprised to see her transformed and is enchanted with the new girl. Of course, he reveals that he always liked her even when she wasn't glamourous, but now that she has gorgeous hair and makeup, stylish clothes and red high heels, well, he likes her even more. I don't think I've spoiled anything by telling you the ending.
I've only seen a couple of the shows but it's pretty clear that on top of everything else, the producers have gamed the results. The plain janes, even in their frumpy jeans and rumpled flannel shirts, are still very cute in an understated kind of geeky way. It would be interesting to see a transformation of someone who was a little older, a little heavier, someone who's beautiful in her own way without fitting into the narrow definition of television beauty, but that's not this show.
So I know it's silly, reinforces sexual stereotypes, is about as subtle as a Transformers movie and tries to have it both ways with its Oprahesque asides. Still, I really like it. For me, it's a perfect guilty pleasure. Of course, I'm sure my enjoyment of the show has nothing to do with the transformation fantasy that one or two other crossdressers might also share.
Review from the New York Times last summer that I think captures the spirit of the show very well.
Link to one of the shows ("Wallflower Jane") on the CW website. Visits to shops and Lorelai's transformation starts around 20:00.