Still, "Cashmere" could have an edge over "Lipstick," simply by virtue of being first. "The feeling is, the first to air has the natural benefit," Schneider says. "If people are turned off by that show, it's going to make it that much more difficult for 'Lipstick Jungle' to come on and make much noise. You're playing the odds. ABC has much more success with female-driven dramas lately. They're going to able to promote the show."
Certainly, there's a surge in women-centric programming on television, with an increase in strong roles for women, even as powerful, memorable leading parts decline for actresses in films.
There's Glenn Close on FX drama "Damages," Holly Hunter in TNT's "Saving Grace," Sally Field at the center of ABC family drama "Brothers & Sisters" and Mary-Louise Parker on Showtime's "Weeds," all nominated for Golden Globes; the standout female doctors on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and the suffering spouses on "Desperate Housewives," TV's No. 2 and 3 scripted series; and for die-hard fans, the sanitized singles on TBS' cleaned-up reruns of "Sex."
Networks "realize, wow, women can sell television. It's not new," says "Cashmere's" Somerville. "But women sell movie tickets. Women sell ideas. Women are an integral part of the business world. I've always worked on shows with women. There have been more hits recently, and that's why people are paying attention more."
According to Nielsen Media Research, women 18 and older watch nearly an hour more of television daily, on average, than men. And, says Busfield, once women fall in love with a show, they'll keep tuning in. "Women are busy. To make a contract with a TV show, to say that 'with the little bit of time I have in my day, I'll sit and watch a TV show,' when they find that show that they like and can relate to, they'll say they want to come back to it next week."
Executive producer Star certainly hopes that holds true for "Cashmere Mafia," which had its pilot retooled to make the women more likable and more believable as college friends. And if you want to liken "Cashmere" to a beloved show such as "Sex and the City," bring it on.
"It's an apt comparison. It's a show about women in New York," he says. "I certainly hope we get the 'Sex and the City' audience, but it's a different show. It's a drama. 'Sex and the City,' I created that as a comedy about sex from a female point of view. This is more about the lives of women who are working and how they juggle their responsibilities in positions of power. With 'Sex and the City,' we consciously avoided doing stories about work."
Perhaps the best way to think of "Cashmere" is to ponder where "Sex's" columnist Carrie Bradshaw would have ended up had she pursued a writing and editing career at Vogue and steadily strutted her way up the corporate ladder in those Manolos. Then, her wardrobe would likely be hip but more understated, like the women's clothing on "Cashmere."
"The show is glamorous and stylish. If you miss your 'Sex and City' clothing, you'll get your fix with the show," Somerville says.
You see the women navigating tough meetings, firing employees, dealing with cheating spouses and grappling with unruly kids, but you never -- unlike "Sex" -- see them scooping up Christian Louboutins during a spending spree.
"We've never shopped," Liu says. "There's a highlight on fashion, but you never see us going out and buying stuff. We try to focus on the inside of the office, the outside of the office and the family home. We meet up in a place, a restaurant, to vent or powwow. But we never go to the store and buy shoes."
These women get their kicks in other ways.