THE SHOW "High Society"

WHEN | WHERE Wednesday night at 9:30 on The CW

REASON TO WATCH Tinsley Mortimer - who stands astride the New York social world in her Brian Atwood Kendall pumps - gets her own show.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Recently divorced from "Topper" Mortimer, Tinsley is playing the field, but the field is not entirely accommodating. She's uncomfortable in the dating scene and has been seeing one Casimir Wittgenstein-Sayn, son of German Prince Alexander; you shall know him as ''Cassi." Her friends and family are trying to help her figure out this new phase of her life.

Some, like gay socialite Paul Johnson-Calderon, who likes to dip into the ol' trust fund a little too much, need to help themselves first. Family (like sister Dabney Mercer) and close pals, like Alex Osipow, provide companionship. So does socialite Jules Kirby - except that her ongoing war with Paul can be a little distracting. We learn some things about Tinsley. Topper's "family hated that I was out there. You're only in the papers when you are born, you're married and you die."

MY SAY Maybe it's true after all - the rich really are different from you and me. They're duller, more superficial, spoiled, catty, bratty, comically self-absorbed. We suspect this to be true because the first episode of "High Society" is a grim, joyless romp through a certain Manhattan social stratum that succeeds in repelling rather than engaging, and confirming tired cliches rather than dispelling them. Why Mortimer would subject herself to the chop shop of reality TV is a mystery until you realize that fame is the coin of her particular realm. She's a superstar in Japan (has a line of handbags and clothing there, and much else) and explains that "It's important for me to build . . . my brand internationally."

But can they get the CW in Japan or Paris - and if they could, what would they think of this?

BOTTOM LINE The first episode is fairly execrable, but "High Society" settles down by the second, and we get a clearer - or at least less-boozy - view of Mortimer and her world.

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