So, What Is So Cosmo Even About?

Photo by: Ben Watts/E! Entertainment.
What magazine-obsessed teenager wouldn't want to work at Cosmopolitan, one of the most recognizable names in the world of magazines? The mere mention of the brand, or even its nickname "Cosmo," evokes images of hot pink font, abs, lipstick tubes, and sex confessions. It's iconic. And now it's... a TV show? Much like its half-dozen predecessors (more on those later), E!'s new docuseries, So Cosmo, promises to show an inside look at what it's really like to work at the glamorous Hearst Tower for one of its glossies. So how well does a print publication translate as a 30-minute workplace drama docuseries? Actually, pretty well. The show, which premieres on E! on February 8, will document the behind-the-scenes of what goes into making the magazine that teaches women to love their bodies, have healthy sex lives, and raise their voices in the world of politics. Oh, and there's backstabbing, shit-talking, (totally) scripted lines, a manufactured romance, and lots of Joanna Coles walking on a treadmill (her go-to shtick) but it works. I'll watch (and not just because I interned there for 7 months).

So Cosmo
joins a long, long list of melodramatic magazine shows that have all spurred from one main source: the 2003 New York Times best-seller, The Devil Wears Prada. The novel, written by Lauren Weisberger, chronicles the fictional days of an over-worked assistant to a powerful, demanding, and successful editor (loosely based on Weisberger's own time at Vogue). It would later inspire the 2006 movie, starring Meryl Streep as a sort of Anna Wintour character. From there, movies and shows set in magazine offices started to spiral out of control: The Hills on MTV in 2006, which focused heavily on Lauren Conrad's time working at Teen Vogue; Stylista on CW in 2008, which advertised as a real-life Devil Wears Prada and had twentysomethings vying against each other for a slot on the Elle editorial staff; 2009's Running in Heels which followed three "fresh-faced interns" at Marie Claire under the guidance of Coles and current O! The Oprah Magazine (I interned here, too) editor Lucy Kaling; and The Job on CBS in 2013, which gave one lucky girl, Diandra Barnwell, a position at Cosmopolitan, before it was cancelled after the second episode.

Anyone who is really doing work has no time to be involved in a reality series.

And now in 2017, there's So Cosmo, where Barnwell now ironically appears alongside Coles as a "Brand Coordinator" for the magazine. Additionally, Coles is contributing to a scripted series on Freeform, Issues, which is inspired by her own life as an editor. To summarize: that's a shit-ton of shows about MAGAZINES and the people who work at them, which is crazy because the truth of the matter is that anyone who is really doing work has no time to be involved in a reality series. Unlike its predecessors, So Cosmo isn't weeding out the weakest (or most poorly dressed) links; it's giving itself a pat on the back. Print publications are folding, but Hearst Publications wants you to know it's not only surviving — it's thriving. Their staff members are desirable city slickers who are as dedicated to their job as they are to getting a perfect blow-out. That's why Bravo has a dozen shows about Real Housewives who go to lunch and gossip because working professionals have no time to talk trash —they're running an empire. While it's true that more so than any other industry, the magazine world is especially illustrious with its bougie events, and writers grappling with content ranging from sex positions to women's rights to celebrity news, it's also the most competitive. And now, with the buzziest content existing on the internet, print publications are having to constantly adapt to the changing environment which is essentially: more digital, less print. But regardless of the likelihood of even the biggest of publication titles folding, it's nice to see Cosmo keeping the dream alive. Because everybody wants to be us. Isn't that right, Meryl?

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