‘Jane by Design,’ the ABC Family show about a high school girl with a secret life which is aimed at teens, stars Erica Dasher, David Clayton Rogers, Nick Roux, India de Beaufort, and veteran actress Andie MacDowell. ‘Jane by Design’ Vol. 1 releases on DVD on March 20, 2012.
Erica Dasher plays Jane Quimby, a teen being raised by her unemployed brother Ben after the death of their father (their mother’s whereabouts are a mystery). When Jane decides to apply for an internship with a major fashion house, but is mistaken for an adult and hired as a personal assistant to Gray Chandler Murray (Andie MacDowell), she decides to take the job to help her brother catch up on the overdue bills.
Taking a page straight out of ‘Hannah Montana,’ from here ‘Jane by Design’ becomes predictable and very familiar as Jane Quimby must juggle the life of an ordinary high school student with her secret life in the glamorous world of fashion.
Final exams clash with fashion shows; family promises are overshadowed by business obligations; romance is complicated by business trips; and all her friends but one have no idea about Jane Quimby’s secret life.
Jane’s life becomes even more complicated when brother Ben finally gets a job — at Jane’s high school, and Ben tries to learn to set boundaries for a younger sister who is staying out later and later and whose grades are dropping.
Of course there is a solution for Jane — lie about everything. ‘Jane by Design’ carries out ABC Family’s apparent agenda to teach teens some sloppy situational ethics: lies are appropriate when they are necessary; it is okay to disrespect authority if you think you are smarter; it is fine to have sex when you want to; promises are made to be broken; etc.
The cast is enjoyable in a predictable way, except for Andie MacDowell’s disappointingly depth-less Gray Chandler Murray. While it is probably the fault of the script, MacDowell’s emotionless character seems to be all raised eyebrows saying, ‘I need it done immediately.’ MacDowell still looks good, but this role is doing nothing good for her career.
In the ‘Jane by Design’ vs. ‘Hannah Montana’ comparison, Jane Quimby’s character is not nearly as annoying as the other teen who had a secret identity, but the ‘Hannah Montana’ series allowed teens to be teens without pushing them into the adult world in high school. ‘Jane by Design,’ on the other hand, puts teens in numerous adult situations involving alcohol, drugs, sex, disobeying authority, lying, and other activities teens should be encouraged to avoid. While it isn’t as bad as the sleazy ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager,’ ‘Jane by Design’ needs to go back to the drawing board.