‘Cashmere Mafia’ a bland retread

Viewers missing their weekly dose of new “Desperate Housewives” episodes can now breathe a sigh of relief. Thanks to the writers’ strike, ABC has been forced to create a brand new spring schedule, and among the lineup was the premiere of “Cashmere Mafia.”

Created by Darren Star (the genius behind the HBO comedy “Sex and the City”), Mafia follows the lives of four glamorous, career-savvy women living their lives in the Big Apple. Sound familiar?

Maybe that’s because it is. Star did little to differentiate the series from his HBO masterpiece. Instead of it being groundbreaking, the show kind of feels like a worn-out clone. “Cashmere Mafia” strives to be a classy dramedy combining elements from both “Desperate Housewives” and “Sex and the City.” However, where “Sex and The City” was sophisticated, Mafia is kind of drab. And while “Desperate Housewives” can provoke laughter, this show only provides meek smiles.

Despite the fact that Mafia is less than perfect, the cast is absolutely amazing and its acting is top notch. It’s obvious to the viewer that the actresses are enjoying their roles. It’s just a shame that the show as a whole isn’t as joyful.

Lucy Liu plays Mia Mason (a wannabe Carrie Bradshaw) who is successful in the world of publishing. She’s competing against her fiancé for a new job as editor in chief of a new magazine. Gee, who do you think will get the job? Australian actress Miranda Otto portrays Juliet Draper, a COO whose marriage is crumpling in front of her eyes. Bonnie Somerville is marketing executive Caitlin Dowd who is toying with the idea of lesbianism. And last but not least, Frances O’Connor plays Zoe Burden (Lynette Scavo on steroids), an investment banker who spends more time at work than home with her kids.

The storylines are pretty simple but it’s all been seen before. The premiere of the show aired after “Desperate Housewives” this past Sunday and while Housewives garnered 19 millions viewers, Mafia only retained 10 million. The second episode aired on Wednesday and one can only hope that the ratings improve. After all, ABC does have a history of axing lackluster new shows (“Big Shots,” “Cavemen”).

However, if “Cashmere Mafia” can find a decent audience then the show may be on for years to come. Most fans agree that “Sex and the City” didn’t hit its stride until the second season so perhaps Mafia needs a little bit of time to grow as well. Will the show be as groundbreaking as “Sex and the City”? Will it be as hilariously over the top as “Desperate Housewives”? That remains to be seen. But one thing is certain:

These women definitely have some big designer shoes to fill.