LIFE ON TOP episode 14: Ready To Rock

Heather Vandeven

In January 2011, a little over a year after the first season concluded with its 13th episode, Life On Top returned for a second season. This is the season I’m less familiar with, I didn’t see every episode when it originally aired, the main thing I recall is that it almost felt like a whole new show, and rewatching this first episode today, I’m reminded of why.

First, let me give some background, the original series was based on the novel LIFE ON TOP by Clara Darling, which I own but have never gotten around to reading. Just from reading the synopsis, I can see that the TV show took some liberties with its adaptation (the biggest of which is that the character of Maya is described as Asian, but she was played by a White actress). That book was published on September 15, 2009, while the first episode of the TV show aired on October 9, 2009. With that short lead-time, I assume that Cinemax licensed the book before it was published, which isn’t totally unheard of, and began developing it so that it could air soon after the book’s release. Darling wrote a sequel novel, titled Hot City Nights, which was published on November 23, 2010, which I have also not read, but since that synopsis still includes Sophie and Maya as active characters, I assume season 2 (which still says “based on the book Life on Top by Clara Darling” in the opening credits) is not an adaption of the sequel, but rather it’s own original storyline.

The only returning member of the first season’s main leading cast is Heather Vandeven, as Bella. Brandin Rackley also returns as Regina, who was introduced in the second episode as a recurring character, steadily gaining more screen time, and now she’s a lead character. Sophie made the decision to move to Las Vegas with her boyfriend Tai in the season 1 finale, and in this first episode, we learn that Maya has since moved to Bangcock with D. No mention is made of Cassia at all, whom we’d last seen had opened her own restaurant in the city.

Jayden Cole joins the cast as Melissa, she’s an old friend of Sophie, Bella and Maya who has moved to New York and is Bella’s new roommate. Daniel Messier also becomes a series regular, as Avi has started his own venture capital firm, which he’s trying to get off the ground, and as has convinced Regina to join him as his client manager, despite them still not quite getting along. So far the only other employee is Peter, a character we saw in three episodes last season, and whom Sophie slept with in episode 5, except now he’s played by a new actor, Steven Ross.

While unpacking in her new office, Regina comes across an old handwritten sexual bucket list that she wrote and resolves to complete it. The first item is to have sex with someone she hates, so she bursts into Avi’s office and seduces him.

Melissa has been struggling to find a job. She and Melissa meet Josh (Geoff Stirling Jr.) an old friend of Sophie’s who has become successful and recently opened a new club in the city with his partner, he was looking for Sophie hoping for some business advice. Melissa convinces him to let her come interview to be the club’s party promoter. Later in the episode, we learn that he got in touch with Sophie, found out that she’s just broken up with Tai, and so he’s taken a flight to Vegas to see her in person, as he’s always had a crush on her. I thought that was a weird story decision, to end Sophie’s “happy ending” so soon. Melissa still goes to a club where she meets Josh’s partner Edward (Kaven Reece) and Doug (James O’Shea) who also works there. Both of them also went to college with Sophie and Melissa and Doug convinces Edward to hire her.

Bella is still unsure about her future, we see her meeting with her agent Stephanie (Danielle Petty) who is telling her about a bunch of new modeling offers she has for her, but Bella tells her that she’s thinking about going back to college, which Stephanie tries to talk her out of. Bella goes jogging with Vincent (Danny Crawford) and finds herself now very attracted to him, despite never being interested in her before. Later Vincent shoots a photography session where Bella poses nude with another model named Delilah (Kayden Kross) and Bella gets a little jealous afterward when she sees Vincent and Delilah talking to each other. That night, Bella makes an excuse to show up announced at Vincent’s place but is disappointed to see him there with Delilah, so she leaves and Delilah and Vincent hook up. The episode ends with Bella naked on her own bed, masturbating (with the help of a new vibrator that Regina recommended for her).

There was also a sex scene between Samantha Ryan and Marcio Catalano, who play Sue and Kent, a couple of potential clients that we see Avi having dinner with earlier.

Charles Kline, who wrote several episodes of the first season, wrote this episode (directed by Jared West) and it was…fine, I guess. I just can’t say that any of the new characters or their storylines hooked me the way the first season did when it began. The cast did a good job with what they were given but nothing stood out. Hopefully, as I rewatch the rest of the season, it will improve.

Chacebook rating: THREE STARS

Jason Majercik is selling Life on Top SEASON 1 & SEASON 2 (FULL SERIES: 26 Episodes) (7 DISCS) for $89.99. Email him at for his softcore inventory list

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