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'Katy Keene,' the 'Riverdale' Spin-off Arrives at the CW
February 6, 2020  | By David Hinckley

The new CW drama Katy Keene officially spins off from its popular teammate Riverdale. Even a cursory glance at its DNA, though, confirms its parentage lies just as strongly in The Devil Wears Prada.

Katy Keene, which premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on the CW, revolves around a talented and ambitious young woman testing her skills and drive in the high-pressure, cutthroat New York fashion biz, with an impossible boss who's a legend and a shark.

The Devil Wears Prada, movie fans may recall, revolved around a talented and ambitious young woman testing her skills and drive in the high-pressure, cutthroat New York fashion biz, with an impossible boss who's a legend and a shark.

Katy Keene cements the parallel by casting the delightful Lucy Hale as Katy. Hale, for those who remember Pretty Little Liars, has the biggest eyes this side of Anne Hathaway, who played the young woman in Prada.

Okay, Katy Keene doesn't simply spin Prada out into a series. A number of its elements are spun from the Katy Keene comic book, a popular line from the Archie series that the CW has soaped up and darkened with considerable success.

For the record, Katy Keene is less dark than Riverdale, which should make it a good complement.

As we join the story, Katy has been working for three years under Gloria Grandbilt (Katherine LaNasa). Gloria is a world-class personal shopper at Lacy's, a department store that caters to people who never look at price tags.

While Gloria isn't as all-powerful in the fashion biz as Prada's Miranda Priestley, she can make or break the career of aspirants like Katy, who would love to become Gloria's top assistant.

Katy has the skills and work ethic. She also presents a potential problem because her real goal is to become a fashion designer. That was also her mother's dream, and while her mother had the talent, she never had the resources or contacts to catch anyone's eye. Mom is gone now, and Katy would love to fulfill their dream.

Gloria says, however, that her assistant must devote 100% of her life, 24/7, to personal shopping. This creates, clearly, a point of potential conflict.

Katy also has a life outside Lacy's, starting with her posse: Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), the former lead singer of Josie and the Pussycats who has just moved to New York to seek a solo career; Pepper Smith (Julia Chan), who seems to know everyone but whose background is shadowy; and Jorge/Ginger Lopez (Jonny Beauchamp), a gender-fluid performer with Broadway dreams.

This is a dream lineup for a CW show, and positioning them all as 20-somethings struggling to conquer the greatest city in the world heightens all the drama.

They soon intersect with two people who have already reached the top, albeit by accident of birth: the twins Alexandra (Camille Hyde) and Alexander (Lucien Laviscount) Cabot, whose family owns a billion-dollar conglomerate. Alexandra wants to run it someday. Alexander already has some of its power, but also wants to restart the Cabot record label. If you see a potential Josie connection here, you're paying attention.

Josie's presence also gives Katy Keene a reason to insert regular musical numbers, which in turn means the female cast members get really good at throwing their hands in the air and shaking it 'til it breaks.

And speaking of regular insertions that serve the CW audience, we aren't five minutes into the first episode when K.O. Kelly (Zane Holtz), Katy's boyfriend, ambles into the frame wearing only ripped abs and a small piece of underwear.

He's not the last. Beefcake is definitely on the menu at Katy Keene's.

Hale remains the centerpiece, however, and she gets it done, catching everything that a high-powered world can throw at a smart kid in her 20s and doing whatever is necessary to keep it in the air.

There's going to be some soap here, and maybe a few times when reality gets stretched. But Katy Keene celebrates aspiration and possibility, products that don't go out of style. Maybe someday the devil will wear Katy.

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