CASHMERE MAFIA: No.

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You know what I would like to see on my television? Smart, powerful women who own their own damn selves. Smart, powerful women who own their own damn selves and aren’t made the butt of jokes for doing it (Ugly Betty, I’m looking at you). Unlike the caricatures on the offensive, painful mess that is Cashmere Mafia, the smart, powerful women I know like themselves enough that they wouldn’t make excuses for some asshat who cheats on them by whimpering about how hard it must be to live with a smart, powerful woman. And they really, really wouldn’t preface those excuses by saying they’re not making excuses for men who are so useless they can’t stand to live with a smart, powerful woman (in fairness, that’s not the laziest part of the writing. The laziest part is a meet-cute where two people bonk heads while trying to pick something up off the floor. Aren’t you clever!).

As I noted when the ghastly The Devil Wears Prada came out, I am sick nigh unto death of pop culture that teaches us that ambitious women must be punished–and, specifically, that they must be punished by men who are right to be affronted by female ambition. To any smart, powerful woman looking to own her own damn self, I say to you now: if Some Guy is uncomfortable with how much money you make or how fast you’ve moved up in the company or how well you juggle your kids or how sharp people think you are? Then he’s not good enough for you. There are worse things than being alone, and one of those worse things is being with someone who doesn’t want you to own your own bad self. The fact that Miranda Otto and Lucy Liu try to tell you otherwise while having the shiniest hair and the highest heels in the world doesn’t make them right–it just makes them empty. Don’t listen to them, don’t internalize them, and, most important, don’t watch their unbelievably stupid TV show. Own. Your. Damn. Self.

Or, as Tracy Jordan would put it more succinctly, “Stop eating people’s old french fries, Cashmere Mafia women. Have some self-respect. Don’t you know you can fly?”

Guide to January Series Premieres

Despite the lingering writers strike, the television future is not entirely bleak. In addition to the impending return of shows like Lost and Jericho, we’ve got a slate of new mid-season series premieres to warm the cockles of our hearts. Here’s a handy guide to what’s coming up this month.

CASHMERE MAFIA (ABC)
Premieres: Sunday, Jan. 6, at 10 PM
Time slot: Wednesdays at 10 PM
Description: Producer Darren Star (Sex And The City) brings us another show about four high-powered, catty women who sip trendy drinks and gab about their sexual misadventures. Not to be confused with Sex and the City originator Candace Bushnell’s Lipstick Jungle, premiering next month on NBC.
Cast: Bonnie Somerville, Frances O’Connor, Lucy Liu, Miranda Otto, Peter Hermann, Julian Ovenden

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (FOX)

Premieres: Sunday, Jan. 13, at 8 PM
Time slot: Mondays at 9 PM
Description: With the help of an otherworldly protector (played by Firefly‘s Summer Glau), Sarah Connor starts fighting back against the Terminators that will stop at nothing to eliminate her son, the future leader of the resistance.
Cast: Lena Headey, Richard T. Jones, Summer Glau, Thomas Dekker

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BREAKING BAD (AMC)
Premieres: Sunday, Jan. 20, at 10 PM
Time slot: Sundays at 10 PM
Description: From the mind of Vince Gilligan (The X-Files) comes this show about a high school chemistry teacher (played by Malcolm and the Middle‘s Bryan Cranston) sleepwalking through life until a terminal diagnosis wakes him up and inspires him to use his chemistry skills in pursuit of the American Dream.
Cast: Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Betsy Brant, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, R.J. Mitte

IN TREATMENT (HBO)
Premieres: Monday, Jan. 28, at 9:30 PM
Time slot: Weeknights at 9:30 PM
Description: Based on the critically acclaimed Israeli series, this five-night-a-week serial tracks the weekly sessions between a psychotherapist named Paul (Gabriel Byrne) and his patients. Each night will be devoted to a specific patient – Laura (Melissa George) on Mondays, an anesthesiologist who is infatuated with the older, married Paul; Alex (Blair Underwood) on Tuesdays, a fighter pilot who’s still haunted by a botched raid he was involved in years before; Sophie (Australian newcomer Mia Wasikowska) on Wednesdays, a gymnast with Olympic dreams; and a married couple (Embeth Davidtz and Josh Charles) in counseling on Thursdays; with Fridays focusing on Byrne visiting his own therapist (Dianne Wiest), a former supervisor and mentor.
Cast: Blair Underwood, Dianne Wiest, Embeth Davidtz, Gabriel Byrne, Josh Charles, Melissa George, Mia Wasikowska

ELI STONE (ABC)
Premieres: Thursday, Jan. 31 at 10 PM
Time slot: Thursdays at 10 PM
Description: Are attorney Eli Stone’s bizarre visions a sign that the universe is guiding him to a higher purpose or just a symptom of an aneurysm like the one that plagued his tortured father? From exec producers Ken Olin, Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti.
Cast: James Saito, Jonny Lee Miller, Laura Benanti, Loretta Devine, Matt Letscher, Natasha Henstridge, Sam Jaeger, Victor Garber

2008: The Year of Casual Sexism?

New Year’s Eve always depresses me, as I feel compelled to look back over the lost year that was and contemplate everything I didn’t accomplish (it probably doesn’t help that I’m doing this while slouching on the sofa in my pajamas instead of partying with the glitterati). On the other hand, the next day cheers me up, as I can consider the fresh new year and all the ways I won’t screw it up (January 4: have already screwed up fresh new year).

It’s been quite disappointing, then, to be confronted in the fresh new year with multiple blithe instances of casual sexism in my TV viewing:

The Amazing Race: while struggling through a task that requires stringing a wedding garland, Big Strong Boyfriend chastises his partner for not being better at handling the flowers, what with her being a girl and all. This was very educational, as I had been unaware that possessing a vagina imbued one with magical abilities to make flower garlands. (I’d be more impressed that Snotty Girlfriend was able to come back with asking why Big Strong Boyfriend couldn’t row a boat better on a previous leg, what with being a boy and all, but her habit of calling other female racers bitches means she doesn’t have much wiggle room here.)

–ABC promos during college bowl games: I’d feel sorry for the announcers–I’m dismissive of Dance Wars: Hoohah versus Whatsit, too, and it can’t be fun to try to dredge up fake enthusiasm for such blatantly contrived garbage–if they hadn’t decided to solidify their manly, football-based credentials by linking their disdain so closely to the idea that only stupid chicks–and Other Persons of More Effeminate Natures, If You Get My Drift–were the target audience for the dance show. One can only hope they accomplished their goal of protecting the bowl audiences from getting their testosterone covered in sequins.

–MSNBC’s bizarre insistence on calling Senator Clinton by her first name. This may well be happening on the other 24-hour news channels, too, but the repeated use of “Hillary” to describe a major presidential candidate while still calling the candidates with dangly genitalia by their last names is dismissive, infantilizing, and insulting, and it just plain needs to stop. The woman has a last name–in fact, she has two. Pick one and use it, but stop calling her by her first name unless you intend to start talking about how Mike and Mitt are duking it out. Studies have shown that the tendency to refer to female athletes by their first names while persisting in using surnames for male athletes reinforces the privilege accorded to the “dominant” group–it’s hard not to think of that being an even more appalling state when dealing with reporting on American democracy. At least Keith Olbermann had the grace to notice this discrepancy on a graphic in his own show and seem upset by it.

Here’s hoping the year improves–and that the premieres of Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle don’t make matters worse. I can’t say I’m optimistic.

LOST Returning January 31

I have this widget for my MacBook that lets me know when the next episodes of all my favorites shows are airing. It used to make me happy, but this morning I disabled it because it had become a depressing reminder that we don’t have much television left to look forward to. There are a few bright spots, however, and one of them is the long-awaited return of Lost to the airwaves.

ABC announced Monday that Lost will be returning on Jan. 31 in a new time slot–replacing Grey’s Anatomy in the ultra-competitive Thursday at 9 p.m. Of course, with the strike and all, there’s not as much competition in that slot as there used to be. (NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice is hardly enough to temp me away from my favorite castaways.)

To get you good and excited, here’s an extended trailer for the upcoming season:

Unfortunately, only eight of the expected 16 episodes of Lost were completed before the strike struck, so unless negotiations turn around amazingly quickly, we’re looking at an annoyingly abbreviated season. Hate mail can be directed to the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

In other ABC scheduling news, the last new episode of Grey’s Anatomy will air Jan. 3, leading into the premiere of Cashmere Mafia, which will then move to its regular Wednesday 10 p.m. slot. When Cashmere ends its run on Feb. 27, it will be replaced by Men in Trees, which still has 10 original episodes saved up. Big Shots is also coming back, reclaiming its Thursday 10 p.m. slot for its last three produced episodes (I warned you we hadn’t seen the last of it).