TV Recaps

Summer Refresher: What You Should Know About 'Jane By Design'

Jane By Design returns to ABC Family this week with eight new episodes to complete its first season run. If you’ve never seen the show before, it’s a light-hearted, fun drama that is perfect summer TV fare. It’s not the kind of show that will leave you on the edge of your seat, dying for the next week’s episodes, but it’s entertaining and all the characters, even the ones who serve as foes, are enjoyable, well-written and fun to watch. Here is a refresher on everything you need to know about the first ten episodes.

Jane By Design returns to ABC Family this week with eight new episodes to complete its first season run. If you’ve never seen the show before, it’s a light-hearted, fun drama that is perfect summer TV fare. It’s not the kind of show that will leave you on the edge of your seat, dying for the next week’s episodes, but it’s entertaining and all the characters, even the ones who serve as foes, are enjoyable, well-written and fun to watch. Here is a refresher on everything you need to know about the first ten episodes.

Jane Quimby (Erica Dasher) is a high school student who doesn’t really fit in with her peers. She loves fashion, but her eccentric choices and personal designs, don’t really endear her to her fellow classmates. Jane lives with her older brother, Ben (David Clayton Rogers), who is unemployed as the series begins and struggling to pay the bills, including the mortgage. Jane hears about an internship at Donovan Decker, a Manhattan fashion design house, and convinces her guidance counselor, Rita (Smith Cho), to let her abbreviate her school schedule so she can leave every day at 11:30, take the train into the city and work at the internship. But when she arrives for the interview, things are chaotic there and she ends up accidentally interviewing for a job to be the assistant to high maintenance designer, Gray Chandler Murray (Andie MacDowell). Before Jane can correct the mistake, they offer her the position which comes with a large salary of $30,000 a year, something Jane can’t pass up. (Sidenote: Don’t you wish you could find a part-time dream job that comes with that kind of salary? Too bad that only happens on TV, people).

Gray is a demanding boss and she doesn’t accept excuses or apologizes. But the show doesn’t go over the top to vilify her Devil Wears Prada style. Instead, it’s pretty obvious Gray likes Jane and respects her potential, but she still wants perfection which isn’t easy since Jane is juggling her high school life on the side. Some of the stories are a little ridiculous and unrealistic for someone in high school, like when Jane has to fly to Paris at the drop of a hat to give Gray the Look Book (a blueprint of the upcoming line), but it’s easy to overlook how silly it is because the characters are so much fun to watch. Things go wrong a lot and Jane has to scramble to pick up the pieces and save the day and it’s impossible not to root for her to do just that each time.

Billy Nutter (Nick Roux) is Jane’s best friend, confidante and partner in crime. (He’s also my top choice for the ‘who should Jane be with’ question, but I’ll get to that later). Like Jane, Billy is a bit of an outcast. His older brother, Tommy, is a criminal and his punk style makes people assume that he’s one too. But don’t judge a book by its cover. Billy is the best. He’s always doing whatever he can to help Jane even when it costs him personally. Billy started the series in a secret relationship with Lulu Pope (Meagan Tandy), one of the most popular girls in school and Jane’s rival for top student. Lulu has always been horrible to Jane so when she found out Billy and Lulu were dating; she was not happy and tried to cut Billy out of her life. But thankfully, that didn’t last long and the two made up even though Jane was still not pleased with his new girlfriend and vice versa.

But Jane had her own love life to worry about when her crush, Nick Fadden (Matthew Atkinson), finally started paying attention to her. Jane had been smitten with the baseball player for years and she was ecstatic when he asked her to a big dance. Jane’s double life was hard on their relationship since she was constantly canceling plans or walking out in the middle of them when there was a design crisis. Lulu was having the same issues with Billy since he would abandon her at the drop of a hat if Jane needed him. The situation came to a head at a school camping trip when Billy witnessed Lulu and Nick sharing a kiss as they bonded over how their respective significant others would rather be with each other than them. Billy told Jane what happened and she made it clear to Nick that things were over between them.

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High school drama is only half of Jane’s problem. Donovan Decker has plenty of its own drama, including backstabbing and jealous rivals. India Jordain (India de Beaufort) was once Gray’s assistant, but now she’s a designer in her own right and she and Gray do not like nor trust one another. Gray asked Jane to keep an eye on India when she was out of the office and India caught Jane spying on her more than once. The two women argued a lot and India went out of her way to sabotage Jane a few times. But the worst was when Jane designed an emergency wedding dress for a client and India claimed it as her own. The truth came out eventually and it was obvious that India was desperate, but it was impossible for Jane to trust India after that.

Jeremy Jones (Rowly Dennis) is another hot, young designer at the firm and he caught Jane’s eye on the first day (before she’d started dating Nick). But Jeremy and India were having a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship and Jane was not interested in coming between them even though India thought she was, which was another reason she’d been out to get her. Jeremy ended things with India after the wedding dress debacle, but the firm had bigger problems than that. As they were about to debut their new line, a rival firm debuted the exact same line so everyone had to scramble to make chances. Jane accused India of being the spy since she’d met with the head of the other firm on a trip to LA and Gray fired her even as India continued to insist she didn’t do it. Jeremy also adamantly told Jane that India would never do something like that, which anyone who was paying attention could see was a red herring.

In addition to ruining romantic relationships, the school camping trip also brought Jane’s double life to Ben’s attention. Since he started working at the school as an assistant baseball coach and part-time gym teacher, he didn’t want Jane to miss the camping trip so he went down to Donovan Decker and was informed by Jeremy that she was in Beverly Hills for the weekend. Ben found pictures from Paris in her room (rookie mistake, Jane) and he confronted his sister and ordered her to stop working for Gray. She said she would quit, but of course she didn’t since they needed her help with the big show. Ben showed up again and after seeing his sister in action, agreed to let her keep the job since he’d given up on his dream of being a baseball player and wanted more for her. (Again, totally unrealistic since what Jane’s doing is illegal, thanks to her forged credentials, but whatever. Ben is awesome). Ben made it clear to Jane that she’s not allowed to lie to him anymore.

Now let’s get back to the romantic prospects. Like any good teen show, Jane has plenty of options. Nick was great until that whole kissing Lulu thing happened so I’d prefer that she not give him the time of day anymore. After getting arrested helping his brother out of a bad situation, Billy realized that Jane was the girl for him and rushed to the fashion event to tell her, abandoning his car when it broke down and running the rest of the way. (Team Billy!) But then there’s Jeremy. He told Jane that she made him realize that he loved working at Donovan Decker again, something he’d forgotten. Of course to the shock of no one, Jeremy was the mole all along. He told the rival that he wasn’t going to do it any longer and then he told Jane he was interested in her, right before Billy showed up and said, “it’s you” as the episode faded to black with Jane looking confused.

When the show picks up this week, two months will have passed since the night of the fashion show. Billy’s been in a detention center as punishment for his involvement in his brother’s crime and Jane is still pondering what he meant by “it’s you” while continuing to juggle her job and her teenage life. But romantic issues might be the least of her worries when Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) joins the cast as Jane and Ben’s absentee mom. Jane By Design airs Tuesdays on ABC Family at 9:00 pm, following Pretty Little Liars.

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About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.