Re-Branding the Dynasty: Tori Spelling's HSN clips on YouTube
by Leah Shafer — Hobart and William Smith Colleges
March 25, 2010 – 00:29
In his NY Times obituary, Aaron Spelling is called "the most prolific producer in American television." In addition to his stable of hit programs, Spelling was known for his extravagant displays of wealth. He was attended by a butler in full livery, he built "The Manor" a 123 room house that remains the largest single-family dwelling in California, and he famously had the Dynasty prop department fill the backyard of that Los Angeles home with snow so his daughter Tori could have a white Christmas.
Followers of reality television and/or celebrity gossip know that internecine struggles meant that Tori inherited almost none of her father’s estimated $500 million dollar fortune. What she did inherit was his canny knack for turning melodramatic tales into cash cows. Since her father’s death, Tori has turned being a Spelling into a cottage industry with a diversified product line. In addition to the two NY Times Bestselling autobiographies, Tori has produced and starred in the VH1 sitcom So NoTORIous and two Tori-brand reality shows for the Oxygen network. In 2007, she started selling a jewelry line, the Tori Spelling Collection, on the Home Shopping Network (HSN).
This clip is pulled from a longer version that is among the 40 or so selections from Tori’s shopping network appearances available on YouTube’s HSN channel. Tori says that her use of trendy technologies has turned her consumers into her friends, and she describes the “vibe” of her line as a hybrid of the organic and the inorganic. The updated Spelling brand sells itself as interactive, aspirational, and chic.
As a recent convert to the soporific, soft core immersiveness of home shopping television viewing, however, I find the YouTube clip archive lacks something of the flow and liveness crucial to the HSN experience. To borrow Tori’s idiom: there’s something strangely inorganic about the product-centered clips, something a little more Goldtone and a little less gold. But perhaps this is the real kernel of the Spelling brand: it sells us the idea that the representation of affluence is as valuable as, if not more valuable than, actual wealth.