The End of Reality: Kimora Lee Simmons’ Life in the Fab Lane

I was initially excited to see that Kimora Lee Simmons was going to have a reality show. I know. It sounds ludicrous. But I was. What black gay man wouldn’t be? As she said last night on the premiere episode of her new show on the Style Channel, Life in the Fab Lane. Simmons noted (something to the effect of) I need my make-up to be more drag queen-ish. Kimora loves the kids, and knows we’re watching, but I had to wonder last night, what are we watching for?

The show seems to be set up to show how the successful fashion model-turned fashion mogul balances the fab lane and her family—the mother of two daughters. The first episode was largely the now-cliché “get to know the characters” kind of episode that reality shows employ. The plot for this episode revolved around a new Kimora Barbie doll being produced, and a new ad campaign that Kimora was launching for Baby Phat, where she would star as the model for the campaign as well.

When Kimora goes to meet with the executives from Barbie about her doll, I do think it was kinda fierce that she read those white women about the reason they wouldn’t give the doll, which bears Simmons’ (Korean-Japanese and African-American) likeness, the name “Barbie” which she clearly knows they only give to the white dolls. The fact that she was comfortable asserting her opinion, and letting them know what she was up to, was fabulous. (I know Barbie is a totally sexist creation and don’t think they’re good for girls’ self-image, etc., but I am making a different point here.)

But while her ability to treat these Barbie company execs badly was totally fine, what I didn’t like (in the same breath) is how she also treated other people in general, which mostly had to do with her staff, of mostly Black and Latino women and gay men. At least she’s hired them (I guess). But when she demanded that her Black (presumably gay) assistant order her another salad with all the fixins in one dish and the lettuce in another (while she was already eating a salad) I began to have questions. Then when she and her Latino (presumably gay) creative director get into a fight about the budget and he, he starts blubbering something to the effect of the only reason I have stayed here is because of you.

OK. Does that relationship sound a little weird?

I don’t know. All this started making me feel a little ill about the “Celebrity” reality shows. Do we watch it just to see A-listers like Kimora be shitty to other people? Do we watch the D-listers like Danny Bonaduce to make fun of how far they’ve fallen so we feel better about ourselves? What are these weird paternalistic relationships that (presumably) straight women and gay men have with each other, from Kimora saying things to her staff like “Mama’s not happy” to Kathy Griffin referring to gay men as “her” gays? It’s all a little to “Truth or Dare” for my taste. What weird misogynist fantasies to gay men play out by their need to be accepted by certain types of hi-femme personalities—and are quick to dis women we view as un-attractive or with bad fashion faster than other women will?

I feel dirty all of a sudden. So I’ll stop blogging, and let you ponder this while I take a shower.

Want a different opinion? New York Magazine loved it.

12 thoughts on “The End of Reality: Kimora Lee Simmons’ Life in the Fab Lane

  1. I can’t say I loved it; but I did watch the entire thing like a doofus. To be honest, Kimora came off just as I thought she would: entitled, rude, spoiled and unpolished. Of course, that makes for watchable TV.

    I can’t say I’ll make it something I watch regularly.

  2. I think she acts how people allow her to. She’s a millionaire, and can pull off behavior that normal people couldn’t. I think we should also keep in mind that she has a very demandig careeer that can cause a sense of urgency a lot, than can be taken as offensive. Let’s face it, when the pressure is on, the bit!@ comes out of her. But if it wasn’t for that bit1@, there would be no empire. She’s fierce, and I love it. Spolied too, but what celebrity isn’t ?

  3. I feel you on the whole weird paternalistic relationship between some gay men and straight women. I mean, both should be playing on a level field here. And I’ve seen some MAJOR drama over this dynamic, which when unhealthy, can borderline on abuse. I think in Kimora and her poor gay underlings case, Kimora’s sort of an icon and he’s probably just in thrall with her “fabulousness.” I mean, she probably turns a lot of people into babbling sycophants, all hoping to get “in” with Kimora and go to all the cool parties. Get her old Manolos as Christmas presents. Get the extra Prada when Kimora says this Prada is from the spring line and it’s summer and she refuses to wear it.

    They kiss ass for the perks, son. They kiss all that ass for the perks.

    That said, the show is kind of crap, but at least the kids seem normal and cute. That has to be some kid of TV magic. And staged or no, it was very mom-like for her to eat that totally f-ed up cupcake the kids made for her.

    Bitch touched my heart a little.

    Right. (Sheds tear) Here.

    The Black Snob

  4. I was interested to see the show, as I admire her clothing line and the “empire” she has built. However, I was totally turned off by her terrible attitude. In one half-hour I completely changed my opinion of her. The five minutes that Russell Simmons was on the show were more interesting and intriguing because he is not so ridiculously “in love” with himself. Lets not forgot that without him she would not have the same level of success. I hope that the American public realizes that her business tactics are destructive, manipulative, and abusive and will boycott the show. I won’t watch it, not because I’m trying to make a point, but because it left me feeling anything but empowered or inspired. There is nothing wrong with being powerful, successful and kind to those around you. She is anything but a role model.

  5. i absolutely love kimora and her children and the show! she demands attention and you can tell everyone around her not only respects her they love her too!!

  6. Yeah, I agree with you to a certain point about Kimora’s treatment of her staff. On the other hand, I did think she was justified in being upset about her creative director/manager’s lapse in financial knowledge about the budget. I mean, yes, it’s great that he’s exceedingly loyal, but the bottom line is that Kimora’s success lies partly in her ability to brand herself, to be the CEO and president of Kimora, Inc.. She has a certain rep to live up to and has to be careful about all the details that go into running this complex and global brand. Like all good CEO’s, she hires not just based on loyalty and service, but on competence. I wasn’t clear on the details, but while the guy kept insisting that he wasn’t overbudget, it wasn’t until much later that he was able to give Kimora the exact number he was working with. As the guy in charge of the whole event, he should know exactly how much he’s spent and what the entire budget is. He can’t just say “I’m not overbudget!” without the numbers to back him up. You can’t survive in a corporate environment flying by the seat of your pants, and Kimora IS a corporation.

    Glad to see they made up, though, and am looking forward to seeing more of her and her crew. And yeah, loved the scene at the Barbie offices.

    Cheers,
    Marjorie

  7. La Kimora is fabulous, fabulous! She is as she says, over the top. Who would watch a boring non-descript matron with no taste? Kimora gives a show. She knows the cameras are rolling. I don’t see any of her staff bailing, so she must be okay to work for by and large. Creative types are eccentric.And the rich are often attitudinous. Yep, that’s a word. I made it up! She is no exception. She has a show because she is interesting. We want to see how the other half lives. She delivers in spades… and Bentleys! KLS has driven this ship all the way to the bank… VAULT. I love it!!!

  8. I enjoyed her brassness. She came off like a real power broker and is not afraid to bring the drama. She is a star for a reason and demands the spotlight. I think all the fabulosity is well placed and thought out – like one long advertisement for her. I’m just sorry I don’t have a say at that table of young people because Iwould love to have the clothes and make the money.. if only for a little while. If those folks on the show don’tlike their jobs, they can quit like she says. i think they like to ride inthe pretty cars, the clothes, and go on the trips. Yep yep. You have to be hungry, and her people are. Why should white guys have all the fun?

  9. I used too have a lot of respect for Kimora when she had a show call life and style.She was a nice and sweet person.When I started watching Life and the Fabulous Lane and I saw how she treated her staff and people and general I lost all of the respect I had for her.What puzzle me she was brought up poor.I strongly believe never forget where you come from.What have she gave back too the people or the poor,sick?She has gave nothing back.I mean I’m happy she has the money,but she needs too learn how too respect others and her staff.Without Russell Simmons she wouldn’t have all that money.She would be just like Tyra Banks.Russell is the one who made Kimora. Run’s family isn’t like that there are a nice family that care about people.Kimora don’t realize what she did on television she showed the world her true side.All I can do is pray for her.

  10. But La Tania, you have to remember that producers edit their shows to look like people are more (or less) than who they truly are. Because the program only reveal a slice of her life, they have to make the show choppy and straight to the point. Honestly, I still love her and the second season of Life In The Fab Lane is hot!

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