If you found yourself watching the second episode of Katy Keene and wondering why Pepper’s characters seemed so familiar, it’s because she seems to be The CW’s take on Anna Delvey, a real-life faux heiress that swindled the one-percent and intrigued the masses for several months before getting caught in one of the most fascinating scandal’s in history.
To back it up a little bit, Pepper Smith, played by Julia Chan, is Katy Keene’s New York City friend.
She’s introduced in the pilot as a socialite and gossip columnist who knows all the right people, can get into the right places, and lives lavishly bouncing from hotel to hotel while rocking the hottest designer brands and some wicked glasses. (Pepper has them too!)
However, the cracks begin to appear by the second episode as it’s revealed Pepper is in some financial trouble.
It isn’t even minor financial trouble – homegirl owes a whopping $60,000 to the hotel that she can’t pay off because, as it turns out, she’s not as rich as she’s led people to believe.
In fact, she cannot even afford a stay anywhere and refuses to come clean to her friends about her real identity.
Instead, she retreats to a deteriorating warehouse space that she just tricked an investor into funding in hopes of helping her realize her vision of opening her idea of “Andy Warhol’s Factory,” or, a mecca for creatives and artists alike to gather, showcase, perform, and more.
After blackmailing the real-estate agent to rent it out to her at a discounted price, Pepper is forced to shack up in the murky warehouse for the time being essentially becoming the squatter she was so worried in the first place.
Upon getting to know Pepper’s character on a deeper level, I immediately made the connection to Delvey in the Katy Keene Season 1 Episode 2 review.
For those unfamiliar with Delvey’s fascinating story, she was a German woman (real name Anna Sorokin), who posed as a wealthy heiress and fooled anyone that was anyone in New York. She lived a lavish lifestyle at the expense of others, defrauding friends, financial institutions, hotels, and more.
Her story almost seems like it would be something out of a Riverdale spinoff, and yet, it’s completely true and seems to inspire, at least slightly (for now), the character of Pepper.
Much like Delvey, who also wanted to open her dream arts club and attempted to secure a massive loan using fraudulent documents, Pepper meets with an investor and attempts to sell her dream to him, a moment that proves undoubtedly that Pepper can sell a lie to anyone as long as she believes in it.
Pepper has moxie as she seems to be manipulating the hotel concierge and her lover, Didi, to cover for her, which can also be compared to Delvey’s female friends that funded her lavish trips and footed the bills.
However, it’s unclear how much of Delvey has inspired Pepper, or if her swan song will be anything like Delvey’s, whose lies caught up with her after 10 months and landed her on trial where the jury in Manhattan found her guilty of second-degree grand larceny, theft of services and one count of first-degree attempted grand larceny. She was sentenced to 4 to 12 years imprisonment.
For Peppe’s sake, she better hope her character is only “loosely” based on Delvey, but for now, she remains one of the most enticing parts of the series in contrast to doe-eyed Katy Keene and her optimistic tribe of dreamers taking on the Big Apple.
As I mentioned before, Delvey’s story was so fascinating and unbelievable, plenty of people, including Shonda Rhimes, has expressed interest in telling her story. The CW may the first to draw its inspiration from the pathological liar, but it isn’t the last.
‘Katy Keene’ Cancelled at The CW After One Season – ‘Riverdale’ Spinoff Looking for New Home
After weeks of waiting, The CW has decided against renewing Katy Keene after just one season.
The network announced that the Lucy Hale-led Riverdale spinoff will not be picked up for season 2.
Katy Keene was the only series awaiting a decision after the network’s bulk renewal back in January, which saw all of its scripted shows get renewed including freshman dramas Batwoman and Nancy Drew. All shows are scheduled to return in January due to the coronavirus production delays.
Show creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa took to Instagram to share the news with fans alongside a photo of the cast, writing, “From the first #katykeene table read. It seems like a dream. So proud of this show and the beautiful souls who came together to make it.💔.”
Hale commented writing: “I am …devastated. But love you all so much.”
Julia Chan (Pepper Smith) chimed in expressing her gratitude: “Love you, Roberto and Michael and my beloved @cw_katykeene family. Eternally grateful. ♥️”
Hale also addressed the fans directly on Instagram Live. “Sad to deliver this news ! But I love the show. I love what it stands for. And mostly I love YOU. To the cast, crew and all involved. I adore you,” she captioned the clip.
Katy Keene May Be Part of the Riverdale Universe, But It’s Far Removed From the Dark Murder Series
When you first heard about a Riverdale spinoff, I’m willing to bet you didn’t think it would be a series revolving around the fashion and music industry, but that’s exactly what you get when you tune into The CW’s Katy Keene.
Devoid of murders and darkness, the series (based on the Archie Comics), spearheaded by Lucy Hale in the role of the titular character, shines bright amidst the supernatural vibes of its sister shows, Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the oftentimes supernatural lineup embraced on The CW.
In place of those murder mysteries that tend to envelop the residents of Riverdale, Katy Keene sets the stage for a coming-of-age tale that propels themes of hopefulness, following your destiny, and chasing every opportunity.
Some of us might say — the ones that were old enough to have watched Gossip Girl and Sex and the City when it aired live, anyway — that the series is the younger sister of those fashion-centric show, and fills the void they left behind quite nicely with its bubbly depiction of New York’s elite, always-on-the-go, and hook-up heavy aesthetic.
But don’t be fooled — the show’s optimistic outlook doesn’t mean it’s without its fair share of drama.
Like Riverdale, Katy Keene relies on a formula of convoluted mysteries and twists, and it thrives on throwing its characters into unpredictable and messy situations, albeit, with less murder and serial killers.
And New York, much like Riverdale, can make or break you in a minute; it can snuff out that very hope it evokes and destroy the opportunities it’s made possible until you’re left feeling more alone than ever.
Katy Keene focuses heavily on its ensemble cast — heavier than Riverdale at times — giving each of its characters a storyline to dig into.
The circumstances of the Big Apple — rent as tall as the skyscrapers and the competitiveness of its inhabitants — brings Katy, an aspiring fashion designer, closer to Jorge/Ginger Lopez (Johhny Beauchamp), an aspiring Broadway star, Pepper Smith (Julia Chan), an aspiring business owner, and Riverdale’s finest, Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), an aspiring singer.
Much like Riverdale’s core four, this unit relies on each other to navigates life’s up-and-downs.
For Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead, these trials and tribulations tend to consist of dark forces and mysteries such as figuring the identity of the Black Hood, the Gargoyle King, and how to escape and stop an organ harvesting cult, among others.
Katy Keene, however, offers up a dreamlike vibe while showcasing real and more relatable issues of navigating your upper 20s with the focus being on every millennial’s struggle to juggle the pursuit of a dream career in an overpriced city alongside a romantic life.
Alex says it best — you’re no one in this city without money — and thus, a lot of the drama revolves around financial situations.
QUIZ: Which ‘Katy Keene’ Character Are You?
The characters in Katy Keene’s world are bold, beautiful, and living the dream… or, at least, trying to.
Their supportive of each other even through all of life’s up-and-downs because they know there’s nothing more valuable than friendship. And in New York, you don’t get very far without friends.
Find out which Katy Keene character you are by taking our quiz below!
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