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<i>The Rachel Zoe Project</i>: Operation Take Down Taylor

Break out your chinchilla fur-lined hippie jacket and your John Lennon-meets-Jackie O sunglasses, because The Rachel Zoe Project is back and less dramatic than ever -- sans the terrible Taylor this time around...

Last night, Rachel Zoe and her crew (lovable Brad, Bieber-haired husband Rodger, and a couple forgettable assistants) gave us a taste of life without Zoe's former assistant and "blessed jewel" (her words, not mine) Taylor Jacobson on the premiere episode of the show's third season. I'll admit, back in the first season, I thought Taylor was an interesting figure in the fashion-frenzied and glamorous (though often stressful and health-affecting, as Season 2 showed) business of Rachel Zoe's celebrity styling. She had an edgy and punkish no-frills dress code, an I-don't-give-a-shit attitude, and seemed to be the voice of semi-rebellion in a world of chiffon silk gowns and couture cocktail dresses. As a viewer, you could get used to her and learn to not hate her to the point of understanding that she sort of balances the Zoe universe with her own style. That is, until she starts verbally abusing Zoe's newer assistant, Brad, relentlessly driving him to tears. Then you go back to hating her again.

Since another season of her angst and constant complaints would be too much for anyone to handle, I thought this season would be a considerable improvement. Especially now that this means more air time for everyone's favorite preppy-dressed styling assistant Brad Goreski, clad in a Ralph Lauren bowtie and Buddy Holly glasses as usual. While I definitely don't miss Taylor, this episode seemed somewhat predictable and not too thrilling, save for a scene with Demi Moore and a giraffe at a photo schoot.

Zoe's husband and now business associate, Rodger, is the one to deliver the news on having to fire Taylor over some sketchy and unspecific financial decisions she made within the company, but all I can focus on is the ridiculous number of rings on Rodger's fingers. Anyway, Zoe is obviously shocked and hurt and she's not going to hide it from anyone throughout the episode, despite her lack of facial expressions. Her crew meets with her, and Brad's "blackberry is on another level" with news swirling about the dismissal of Taylor, which is hilariously followed by a montage of clips featuring Rachel and Taylor expressing their love (and frequent one-sided disdain on Taylor's part) for each other, including an "argument" with Taylor admitting "I can't be your blessed jewel -- you're my blessed jewel." Thank you for that, Bravo. Cut back to the meeting of the minds as Zoe declares Brad as the official style director and everyone's happy, again, despite Zoe's lack of facial expressions.

The search is on to replace Taylor, as Rachel and Rodger screen a bunch of girls with names like Ashley, Cassie, and Romy, who lack in experience against Taylor, but are more likely to have somewhat of a soul in-tact. The only girl who seems to really impress them is a girl with fuss-free dirty blonde hair, who wears a leather jacket, and speaks in a kind of monotone voice. Familiar? This doesn't seem to be a foreshadowing of another Taylor though, since this girl seems anything but dramatic, which is what Zoe prefers after her last experience. As she puts it, "is she gonna be in a good mood? Is she gonna be in a bad mood? Is she gonna be nice to Jordan? Is she gonna be mean to Brad today? Is she gonna yell at me about the weather? I dunno!" Come on, Taylor, not the weather too!

Fast forward to a lot of conversations with the overuse of "like," "literally," "oh my God," and "Chanel heart attack," followed by Zoe's continuous despair over Taylor while yelling at her husband for doing probably the only "manly" thing he gets to do all day -- watch football -- and soon enough, more Taylor drama seeps into her life. A photo shoot producer who's worked with Zoe calls to tell her that Zoe's former agency is now repping Taylor, even issuing a press release about it. But the show must go on, with a Bazaar photo shoot featuring similarly never-aging actress Demi Moore. This is just what stylist extraordinaire Rachel Zoe needs, as she claims, "whenever I'm in a time of crisis, I think work is, like, saves me."

The most (and probably only) exciting part of this episode is the fun photo shoot that Brad was put in charge of pulling outfit options for. It's clear he has an astute eye for fashion, especially as he points out to Zoe, "by the way you have a poodle around your wrist," about her infamous hippie coat. Gorgeous garbs and unusual props make for an overall successful shoot, even when Zoe had to be carried down the hill to the beach in her massive heels because "A) I don't own flats and B) I really don't." Though her true weakness isn't revealed until they bring out a mouse for Demi to pose with, causing Zoe to nearly have a heart attack -- and not the Chanel kind.

The shoot doesn't make her completely forget her disgust for Taylor, as Zoe therapeutically rips out the pictures of her from the Paper magazine shoot she was in with Brad, throwing them in an unlit (and probably never-used) fireplace. Ah, vengeance. Hopefully, this season will have Brad filling the void in Zoe's heart (the part not already filled by Chanel jackets) and they can move past the Taylor drama, only to revisit it with inevitable gossip about her life post-Zoe. At the very least, they need something to make the show interesting enough to watch for other reasons besides placed cameos by fashion legends. My vote is for Rach and Rodg offspring, so Zoe can get over her failure of creating Taylor and see what it's like to spawn something besides a to-die-for outfit. And so I can hear her scream "that's BANANAS!" in the hospital labor room.

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