“The Beautiful Life: TBL” premieres tonight

By Emily Mitchell

This show is awesome. Let me explain why.

Sara Paxton stars as Raina in "The Beautiful Life: TBL"

First off, for anyone who loves fashion, The Beautiful Life: TBL is going to feature some great designers. In the first episode, the models are walking the catwalk for Zac Posen.

Secondly, although the show is obviously scripted, the behind-the-scenes action isn’t too cheesy, and the actors share the tall and lanky physique of real runway models.

What’s refreshing is that the characters are of course glamorous, rich and (duh) beautiful, but they are actually working for their “beautiful life.” The parties they go to, the clothes they are wearing; they earn them and live them. It’s unlike Melrose Place or 90210, or any other teen drama on the tube.

The cast of The Beautiful Life features new faces as well as veteran actors and models. Sara Paxton is Raina Mayer, who is set to become the next-best-thing in the fashion world, replacing Mischa Barton’s character Sonja Stone, who has returned to modeling after a mysterious absence. (Many assume rehab.) They are joined by fellow actors Corbin Bleu (High School Musical) as Isaac Taylor, Ashley Madekwe as Marissa Delfina, Nico Tortorella as Cole Shepard, and Ben Hollingsworth as Chris Andrews. All of their characters are trying to make it in the high-pressure industry.

Their boss is Claudia Foster, played by famed real-life model Elle Macpherson, who books and badgers each model towards a successful modeling career. Her office is busy, with the no-horseplay kind of attitude of industry-driven New York City.

The cast does a convincing job of portraying models. They encounter many temptations (drugs, sleeping with photographers to get campaigns) as well as the typical backstabbing, deception and, of course, the struggle to stay skinny.

The Beautiful Life displays the cutthroat fashion industry in a light that other scripted dramas haven’t. It’s sharp, just like the models’ jaw lines.

The Beautiful Life: TBL premieres on The CW Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 9pm ET.

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© 2009 The CW Network LLC. Credit: Takashi Seida