The first, shorter season of "Lipstick Jungle" had a lot to offer with imperfect, yet likeable characters who were facing new chapters of their seemingly fabulous lives. Career driven Wendy (Brooke Shields) was trying to find a way to connect with her teenage daughter, but was having little success. Fashion designer Victory (Lindsay Price) fell in love with Joe (Andrew McCarthy) who ended up buying her business and thus coming between them when the boundaries of boyfriend and boss were drawn. Finally, rounding out the group of best friends was magazine editor Nico (Kim Raver), who fell for a younger man but decided she wanted to make things work with her husband, Charles (Christopher Cousins) - despite the distance between them. While the friendships seem genuine and the cast does a great job with their roles, "Lipstick Jungle" doesn't quite add up to feeling like anything more than toned-down copy of "Sex and the City" - in fact, the series probably suffered from the hype and comparisons.
While the first season managed to squeeze quite a bit into only seven episodes, season two is given a little more room to breathe with almost double. Season two begins where season one left off, as Wendy catches her daughter, Maddie (Sarah Hyland) sneaking into a bar with a fake ID which makes her rethink the amount of time she spends (or doesn't spend) with her kids. Victory tries to reestablish herself on her own, apart from Joe. Lastly, Nico's present is forever changed by the loss of her husband who had a few secrets of his own. The season premiere, "Pandora's Box" offers some great guest stars including Mary Tyler Moore as Wendy's over-opinionated mother and Rosie Perez as Victory's publicist.
"Lipstick Jungle" does a nice job giving the characters enough room to grow and change. Nico makes a transformation as she comes to accept and develop her relationship with Kirby (Robert Buckley). On top of her new relationship, Nico keeps running into Megan (Shannon McGinnis), the woman her husband had been seeing for years and their baby. When Wendy loses her job, she tries to focus her attention on her family but it doesn't go quite as planned and her relationship with husband Shane (Paul Blackthorne) becomes strained. Victory finds her own space for her business, despite the fact that Joe owns the building. Still, while faced with seeing Joe professionally, she begins a relationship with Rodrigo (Carlos Ponce). Overall, "Lipstick Jungle" does find a nice balance between drama and laughs, but the drama can feel a little manufactured at times.
Thankfully, season two manages to stretch the characters further. Some standout episodes include "Help" when Nico, Wendy and Victory are faced with new obstacles including a husband's former lover, a big secret, and a new man. "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Prada" sees the friends become dismayed when Victory finds out that her friends knew Joe was going to propose. "Bye, Bye Baby" follows up after Megan left her baby with Nico and sees Nico and Kirby having to decide what they want from their relationship. Meanwhile, Wendy tries to get a movie made and Victory works to get a new high end client. Wrapping up the season are a couple of engaging episodes, including: "Lover's Leaps", where Victory decides to propose to Joe, Wendy is upset that Shane wants to go on tour with Natasha Bedingfield, and Nico looks into having a baby on her own but her career starts to get into her way.
Overall, "Lipstick" may not have had the same appeal as the beloved ensemble cast of "Sex and the City", the three leads (especially Kim Raver, who's the highlight of the series) do offer fine performances and have very nice chemistry together. The writing is mostly quite good, as while some moments of drama feel a bit like drama for the sake of drama, the series otherwise does offer some heartfelt moments and enjoyable laughs, while offering an engaging portrayal of three friends in the city.
"Pandora's Box" - The past refuses to stay in the closet when Nico receives a photo taken during her affair, Wendy must deal with her extremely opinionated mother and Victory finds it difficult to avoid Joe.
"Help!" - Old relationships resurface and new ones are formed when Nico meets her husband's former secret lover, Victory catches the eye of a hunky contractor and Wendy debates whether or not to stand by a friend.
"Let It Be" - Business and pleasure do mix when Victory furthers the relationship with her contractor, Wendy becomes consumed with a John Lennon project and Nico butts heads with the new CEO.
"The F-Word" - Words harm and heal when Victory meets Rodrigo's daughter, Nico asks Kirby to accompany her to a very public event and Wendy tries to embrace her future as a stay-at-home mom.
"Scary, Scary Night!" - Personal space must be redefined when Victory has a seemingly prophetic dream about Joe, Nico tries to make Christmas plans with Kirby and Wendy is upset by Shane's sudden absence.
"The Lyin', The Bitch and the Wardrobe" - Reunions hold unexpected surprises when Wendy returns to Paradox to pitch a new project, Victory and Joe make a major decision and Nico unexpectedly bonds with her husband's former mistress - and her baby.
"Let the Games Begin" - There are some new players in town when Nico meets Kirby's oddly familiar mother, Victory tries to win a chance to design for a tennis player and Wendy becomes jealous of Shane's attractive manager.
"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Prada" -The ladies' friendship ties are tested when Wendy walks in on Nico in an intimate situation and Victory discovers that her friends hid their knowledge about Joe's plans.
"Thanksgiving" - The holidays bring family and unexpected stresses when Wendy's "locavore" dinner goes awry, Nico and Kirby become unlikely babysitters and Victory rushes to design a wedding dress in two days.
"Bye, Bye Baby" - The future looks less than rosy when Nico and Kirby confront the crossroads in their relationship, Victory struggles to land a new client and Wendy fights to save her dream project.
"Indecent Exposure" - Personal sacrifice comes into question when Victory ponders whether or not to strip down for an ad campaign, Nico rides an emotional rollercoaster and Wendy comes to terms with Shane's career prospects.
"Lovers' Leaps" - The ties that bind get pulled taut when Wendy discovers Shane's plans, Nico puts her career before her impending parenthood and Victory chooses the perfect way to propose to Joe.
"La Vie En Pose" - Sometimes two can be a crowd when Wendy struggles to come to terms with Maddie, and Victory and Joe get put through the wringer when her parents come for a visit.
VIDEO: "Lipstick Jungle" is presented by Universal in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presentation quality is first-rate, as the picture appeared clean and well-defined throughout the episodes. A few minor instances of artifacting were spotted, but image quality for the majority of the running time appeared clean and smooth. Colors looked warm and bright, with nice saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was purely a "comedy mix", with little in the way of noticable surround use. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue.
EXTRAS: There are no extra features included on the Season Two DVD set of "Lipstick Jungle".
Final Thoughts: While "Lipstick Jungle" isn't a perfect series, it does manage to have some memorable episodes and some interesting characters. It would have been nice to see these women have a few more ups than downs, but what moments they do have are held together nicely by their friendship and their successes. Worth a look.