Join Date: Jan 09, 2001
Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: True Jackson, VP
I had mentioned that Just Jordan was in, my opinion, the point that Nickelodeon had officially ran out of ideas with their live action shows. The Naked Brothers Band, while being Nickelodeon's attempt of copying the popularity of Hannah Montana and The Jonas Brothers, was a mockumentary that starred kids that actually had a bit of talent. iCarly, while being one of Dan Schnieder's worst shows he's ever made, at least was a brilliant concept that got into the popularity of online shows featuring Internet celebrities which was popular at the time. With that said, Nickelodeon started the beginning of taking concepts of their live action shows from other TV networks or movies in the form of True Jackson, VP, which debuted on November 8, 2008.
Originally called True Fashion, the show is about a young teenage girl named True Jackson (played by Keke Palmer), who becomes the vice president of a fashion company Mad Style's youth division after the founder and CEO, Max Madigan (played by Greg Proops), sees her selling sandwiches and lemonade at the fashion district in NYC. He saw her "unique" style of design with his brand of clothing. Starting off the business, True fires the old secretary and hires her best friend Lulu (played by Ashley Argotta) and has her best friend Ryan (played by Matt Shively) come by to hang around. They get involved in wacky, crazy situations while dealing with obstacles to prove her worth at Mad Style. True also develops a secret crush on Jimmy Madigan (played by Robbie Amell), the mail deliverer and Max's nephew. She also has a rivalry with her co-worker and vice president of the women's fashion division Amanda (played by Danielle Bisutti). .
The show was created by Andy Gordon, a writer and producer of shows such as Mad About You, Just Shoot Me, and D.A.G. According to an article at Hollywood Reporter, True Jackson, VP. was described as Big meets The Devil Wears Prada in which it focuses on the behind-the-scenes look of the fashion industry and corporate live while mixing in high school teenage drama. Throughout the series, True Jackson, VP had included many celebrity guests and cameos from Nickelodeon shows at the time such as Natasha Bedingfield, Justin Beiber, Willow Smith, French Stewart, John Cena, Vivica A. Fox, the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba, Tom Kenny from SpongeBob SquarePants, Jeanette McCurdy from iCarly, Cymphonique Miller from Romeo! and How To Rock, Victoria Justice from Zoey 101 and Victorious, and many more. However more infamously, the cast of True Jackson, VP. guest starred in the 3 part episode of iCarly "iGo to Japan".
The show ran until it ended its run on August 20, 2011 after 3 seasons. Some of the actors went on to other projects after True Jackson, VP. ended its run.
Keke Palmer went on to do movies and TV shows such as Rags, Single Ladies', Grey's Anatomy, Cleaner, Fashion Police, Masters of Sex, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, Animal, and Just Keke.
Ashley Argota went on to do TV shows and movies such as The Troop, Schooled, How to Build a Better Boy, and The Fosters. She's also an indie singer.
Matt Shively went on to do TV shows and movies such as Paranormal Activity 4, Teen Wolf, The Troop, and Jessie.
Robbie Amell, who is the cousin of Stephen Amell from Arrow, went on to do movies and TV shows such as The Tomorrow People, Live with Derek, Struck by Lightning, and Max.
True Jackson, VP. went on to gain decent reviews from both critics and fans calling it a much more better alternative to shows such as Hannah Montana with a strong female character and funny moments. However, over the years, it has gotten less relevant and has nowadays pretty much faded into obscurity. Why is that? Well, the simple reason is this. True Jackson, VP. is a show that was a product of its time. 2008 already had programs that focused a lot on the concept of the behind-the-scenes-look on fashion such as America's Top Model, Project Runway, The Devil Wears Prada, and Ugly Betty. While this wasn't the first time that Nickelodeon has done this concept since Nickelodeon GUTS was based on the popularity of American Gladiators, at least they were done differently and gained a unique charm. With True Jackson, VP., it didn't feel any different than any other teen sitcom at Nickelodeon or Disney Channel at the time. At times, I felt that it was like a Dan Schneider show with the show being filmed in front of a live audience and the various celebrity cameos. It's simply a show that hasn't aged very well with its concept and cannot be rescued due to its lack of charm.
Another problem I have with this show is that it's so unrealistic and unrelatable. It's the same way I felt about iCarly's concept. The characters are in this big scenario that people dream about doing, but get it way too easy and there are little to no struggles on them getting what they want. I felt that's become irrelevant in modern Nickelodeon sitcoms nowadays and that's a real shame. There's no satisfaction or tense moments or moments to root for the characters when they achieve their goals because we know in the end, they'll get it. If True would have started out in the bottom as a secretary similar to Ugly Betty and then worked her way into being a vice president or if the boss was a mean jerk and True had to learn the ways of fashion to make herself known like The Devil Wears Prada, I can see it work a tad bit better. However, it follows the Disney and Nickelodeon teen sitcom formula on the nose for anything like that to happen.
The biggest highlights for me were the adults. Greg Proops and Danielle Bisutti did a great job with their roles and Keke Palmer was very enjoyable as True Jackson. Ashley Argotta as Lulu has got to be one of the most annoying characters I've ever seen in any live action Nickelodeon show ever. She constantly messes up all of True's plans and her personality is so ditzy and irritating. As for the other characters, I have nothing to say about them. They're just there.
Overall, True Jackson, VP. is a very average teen sitcom that plays it too safe with cliched characters, unrealistic situations, and concept that's no longer popular anymore for anyone to look back with fondness. You're not missing anything if you haven't seen this show. I don't recommend checking it out.
With that said, this would be the beginning of mediocre or bad Nickelodeon teen sitcoms following this tired trend. But next time, we're going into 2009 with a movie review. It's none other than Hotel for Dogs.