July 11, 2008
"Ashley Paige: Bikini or Bust" is a Bravo-style entrepreneurial reality series centered on Hollywood bikini designer Paige, who, despite her big-name clientele, lives on the edge of penury, scrambling to pay bills or avoid paying them. "I'm an artist," she says. "I'm obviously not a businessman."
The series is amiable and low-wattage, happily short on the screaming and sulking common to the genre, and while it's not terrifically compelling, neither is it annoying.
Everyone here seems fundamentally nice, including the star's small band of affectionately long-suffering employees, the fashion pros who give her business advice and her Southern mother (also her roommate), who drives Paige crazy in her attempts to bring a little stability into their lives. ("I'm supposed to be retired," says Mom, whose appearances typically are accompanied by "comedy music.")
Some of it is forced, as these things always are, and Paige's haplessness can be trying, but at least she isn't, on this evidence, a prima donna.
It's best when you're allowed to see her really work, as when she mounts a runway show of her knit and crocheted swimwear -- when reality breaks through the "reality," letting the air in.
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