What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this teen-friendly drama has some worthwhile things to say about individuality, work ethic, and chasing dreams. Jane breaks plenty of rules on her way to achieving her goals, but that doesn't cancel out the good things she does, including shouldering her family's financial burden and putting her nose to the grindstone to succeed at an unlikely opportunity. Adults don't always behave admirably, as back-biting and ulterior motives are common in the fashion house, but their actions provide a backdrop against which Jane's more principled motivations shine. Expect some allusions to sexual encounters and frequent make-out sessions, as well as some mild language ("damn," "ass," and the like), and nastiness from a social diva who targets Jane with her cruelty. That said, the well-meaning characters are the ones who stand out, and their actions have positive messages for teens.
What's the story?
Despite her aspirations to popularity, Jane Quimby (Erica Dasher) lives on the fringe of high school society and takes her share of knocks from the "in" crowd, so when she sees an ad for an internship at a prestigious design company, she looks at it as a ticket away from obscurity and toward a brighter future that embraces her unique fashion sense. But a misunderstanding lands her a position as an executive assistant to the firm's top designer, Gray Chandler Murray (Andie MacDowell), and a hefty paycheck, which will help keep her family's tricky finances. The position puts Jane in the middle of a nasty power struggle between Gray and India Jourdain (India De Beaufort), the junior designer who's vying for her job, and forces her to live a double life while she impersonates an adult at work and keeps up with the demands of high school during the day. Things get even more complicated by newfound attention from both her handsome colleague, Jeremy (Rowly Dennis), and her longtime school crush, Nick (Matthew Atkinson).
Is it any good?
JANE BY DESIGN embraces a number of qualities inherent to teen life, including blossoming self-identity and the desire to be accepted by your peers. While the show's premise is a bit of a stretch, the underlying concept of throwing caution to the wind and following your dreams is anything but, and it's a sentiment to which many coming-of-age viewers will relate. As for the show's presentation of teen life, there's a lot of truth to Jane's trying experiences with her peers, and the content brings relevant issues like bullying and popularity to the forefront. It also turns the tables on some stereotypes by casting multi-dimensional characters who often exceed viewers' preconceived notions of them. Either way, there's plenty of food for thought about a variety of social relationships.
Content-wise, the series is on par with what its intended teen audience is ready for. Sex is the most obvious issue, but physical contact stops at heavy making out (kissing, rolling around on a bed, and implications of sex, but nothing is shown), and there are some likable relationships that develop over the course of the show. And as peer models go, teens could do a lot worse than Jane, who's motivated by career and personal goals to take on daunting challenges and discovers a lot about her own strength along the way.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about relationships. Which relationships within your peer group are difficult for you? What makes them so? How do you handle complicated friendships?
Teens: Do you think Jane by Design paints an accurate picture of teen life? Have you ever experienced bullying? What happened? How did you resolve the situation? Is it possible to see the situation from the other person's standpoint?
What are your career goals? How are you working toward them now? Have you ever had a job or other position that's helped prepare you for this aspect of your future? What excites you most about being an adult?