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Katy Keene Premiere Recap: Only The Beginning

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The CW

Good news, fans of Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries, or any of the CW’s many, many television series about rich New York teens: Katy Keene is finally here. My favorite sub-genre of teen soaps is “Dramady Set in Suspiciously Clean Manhattan (Feat. Glitter),” so I knew I would love Katy and the gang before I even pressed play on my DVR. Seriously, though, these glamorous New York television shows gave me a decidedly incorrect impression of New York City. Where’s all the garbage? Where are the dozens of hot, young people waiting to steal your job and do it better than you ever will? Where’s the year-long Seasonal Depression? Our Katy Keene premiere recap answers none of these questions, but it will fill you with a warm, loving false sense of optimism for the future. Oh, The CW, how we love you.

Katy Keene Premiere Recap: WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!

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The CW

Buckle in, folks, this is a long one. Listen… this Katy Keene premiere recap had to introduce like five characters with deep, personal inner lives. We’ll keep it under 700 words *next* week.

We open on Katy Keene’s mother teaching her daughter how to dream in a city of dreams. Katherine Keene, Katy’s namesake, passed on more than just an old sewing machine to her daughter when she passed away: all grown up, Katy has fashionable dreams of her own. She also has a fashionable (read: ripped) boyfriend in her bedroom, open-hearted boxer KO Kelly. Katy declines his oh-so-tempting offer to contract Tetanus go to Coney Island and hook up under the boardwalk (I cannot emphasize how disgusting of an idea this is) because her new roommate is arriving today. Today is 2025, BTW. This information is only important because Roommate #2 is Josie McCoy, Riverdale high school student no longer. She’s now a college grad, arrived in New York City to make it in the music biz. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, Katy has to go to work at B Altman from Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Except, here, it’s called Lacy’s. Katy pisses off all of her coworkers by being super good at her job as the assistant to a high-profile buyer named Gloria. After three years as an assistant, Katy is finally asking for a promotion to Personal Shopper, but her side hustle as a designer has given her boss some pause. Gloria gives Katy a trial assignment working with a literal Prince to prove she’s 100% committed to the grind.

Back at home in their four-story walkup, Josie and Katy meet. These predestined BFFs were set up by Veronica Lodge, with Katy’s Riverdale cameo yesterday being the first expositional foundation Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has laid in *years*. Clearly, he’s taking Katy Keene seriously. We then meet Jorge, another roommate with ridiculously cut obliques (Johnny Beauchamp, who is your trainer?!) and an audition for Mannequin: The Musical in 20 minutes. Josie and Katy discuss their dreams over bodega sandwiches, then meet up with their glamorous friend Pepper, just back from chilling with Childish Gambino at Art Basil. She’s also a Modern Love columnist, the creator of a viral TedTalk on Snapchat, and the director of a short film starring Lupita Nyong’o and Kristen Stewart. I know she’s supposed to be a jokingly excessive portrait of the young, famous, and white in the city (or the CW’s answer to Tahani Al-Jamil?), but I’m still so jealous I could rip her eyes out. KO is the club’s bouncer (so why is he inside…?), and we re-meet Jorge — rather, we’re introduced to his drag persona, Ginger, the star performer at Molly’s Crisis drag club.

Josie gets discovered at Washington Square Park because we’re literally living in the Taylor Swift song that opened the show (“Welcome to New York,” natch), but Josie’s harmonies to “Spanish Rose in Harlem” did bring a tear to my eye. It also caught the eye of sexy billionaire Alexander Cabot, who invites her to sing at Electric Lady Studios, a shrine so important to music that I hope to God this CW television series was not let within thirty feet of it. I’m sorry, but these are the people who did an acoustic cover of “Milkshake.” At an apartment group hang/wine night (#RelatableContent), the gang informs Josie that the Cabots are a Big Effing Deal. They’re like the LVMH of people. Katy thinks this might be some weird murder scheme because rich people be like that sometimes, so she insists on coming along as her “manager” and making Josie a fire outfit for the recording session. Josie is f*cking phenomenal, so I’m not the least bit surprised when this handsome man offers to introduce her to the Cabot Records board and make her an international star. I’m not even skeeved out when Alexander and Josie hookup. Yeah, give her a sexy millionaire and her dream job, she DESERVES IT.

The Cabot Board does not agree, and the family passes on Josie with her standing. right. there. Alexandra Cabot, Alexander’s sister, reminds Josie that life is not A Star Is Born and implies that he picks up a lot of “future stars” in random parks. Apparently, signing Josie would require a multi-million dollar re-launch of the Cabot record label, a little detail Josie was not made privy to. She dumps the billionaire and starts back at square one, singing Carly Rae Jepson in a drag club. There are worse ways to spend an evening.

Jorge is cut from a riveting dance call because he’s not straight-passing. Even though it’s Mannequin: The Musical. Unsurprisingly, homophobia has *not* been cured in 2025. It’s enough to make Jorge want to quit Broadway because he refuses to act masculine just to please casting directors. Katy suggests that he do the exact opposite and go to the second open call as Ginger. It does not work. It actually backfires horribly, and Ginger gives the casting director his two cents. I would talk mad sh*t if someone acted that unprofessionally at an audition *and* brought friends, but I’m still rooting for Ginger to get her name in lights.

Ugh, KO and Katy did end up going to Coney Island. Luckily, they narrowly avoided coronovirus, and Katy is ready for her first day as a personal shopper. Head B*tch (Not) In Charge Amanda — played by The Other Two freakin’ hilarious Heléne York, an underrated queen— tells Katy in no uncertain terms that she’s coming for her throat (and her job), and Katy still delegates a super important task to her because she somehow still trusts people after growing up in Manhattan. LOL, okay. When the Prince shows up with a commoner on his arm, with less than 1,000 Instagram followers to her name, Katy’s boss goes straight to Defcon 1: Silent Disappointment. Kate Middleton is freaking out because she can’t handle the opulence she’s surrounded by, but Katy saves the day by talking to her like a human and revealing that they both grew up on the LES. The prince is impressed, the would-be princess is happy, and Katy’s boss is… still mad because of an offhand comment about Katy’s homemade dress.

KO gets an offer to train at his dream gym in Philly, and he asks her to come with him if she doesn’t get her promotion. No pressure. He’s still rooting for her because he’s a supportive modern man, but Amanda steals the personal shopper position out from under Katy because allowing the Princess-in-Training to try on Katy’s dress is against store policy. Not only is she not getting a promotion, she’s been relegated to the stock room. Josie begs Katy to remember that her real dream is becoming a designer, not a salesperson. Reasonable dreams aren’t *really* dreams, after all. They’re just, IDK, goals? And that’s not what TV is for. She’s not moving to Philly, but she’s not staying at Lacy’s either. She brings her friends into the store after hours for a little party because stock girls are absolutely given keys to the building. She’s caught by her window dressing friend François who’s freaking out because his design was vetoed, so Katy steps in to save the day. The titular Lacy, who’s still alive (…barely), is thrilled, and François offers her a position in his creative department to rescue her from the high school b*tches up in personal shopping. She tells KO she can’t move with him because she needs to pursue her dream of design, but KO’s unsurprised. He’s *so* unsurprised, that he proposes. Aaaand blackout.

Most CW Moment

Josie reminding her new BFFs that Riverdale is the murder capital of the world. Black Hood, anyone?

HOW WE FEEL

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The CW

Do you remember where you were when The Carrie Diaries got cancelled? I do. I was on my couch, seething because I’d realized that this beautiful, gone-to-soon Sex and the City prequel was going to end with Carrie, penniless and working as a waitress in New York City with nothing but her plucky optimism to keep her warm. This was not the easy tale of success and friendship I had been promised! And there was so much squandered potential! AND WHAT ABOUT AUSTIN BUTLER?! Well, friends, it’s finally time for these wounds to heal. Katy Keene is, essentially, what I imagine season three of The Carrie Diaries would have looked like if people had the good taste to actually keep it on the air, except we don’t have to pretend like it’s the 1980s all the time. Dreams do come true!

Katy Keene is a massive hit, judging from the influx of rave reviews on Twitter, but there’s always someone who feels the need to take a sh*t in your cereal. And it’s me! Always! Yes, Katy Keene is going to be amazing. I love it, I love it, I love it. Did I mention that I *love* it? But is anyone else a little worried about The CW trying to do a drag-centric show that’s 85% straight people? Jameela Jamil was literally bullied into coming out this week because she dared to breathe near a show about the Ballroom scene because drag ball culture is sacred and not meant for hetero consumption. And Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s last attempt at writing a gay character saw him: 1. cast a straight man in the role and 2. proceed to give the character (Kevin, I’m talking about Kevin) storylines like Addicted to Cruising, Addicted to Grindr, and Tickle Fetish Porn. Representation is so, so necessary, but so is making sure it’s done respectfully. My hopes are high, but my expectations are low.

Also, it’s a laugh that this show is trying to position some type of weird white-on-white class warfare between the Upper East Side and the Lower East Side. The LES has Katz’s Deli, Russ and Daughters, and every bar worth going to… when I lived on the UES, I was bullied for *not* living downtown. And it’s not like the UES is that nice — Gossip Girl lied to us! Yes, *anything* near Central Park is pricey as f*ck, East, West, North, South, who cares? But most of the UES has a new bed bug crisis every two months, just like the rest of us. To Katy Keene‘s credit, stuffing five people in an apartment and making one of them sleep on a pull-out couch is *very* 20s-somethings-in-New-York. Even in the magical fantasyland of Katy Keene, rent ain’t cheap.

Katy Keene Premiere FAN REACTIONS

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