Friday, May 31, 2013

Pilot Review: Princesses: Long Island

 Princesses: Long Island (Sundays at 9:00 on Bravo; Premieres June 2)

It looks like Bravo has found its newest trainwreck cast of unlikeable walking stereotypes. Whereas I can find something to like in at least one cast member of just about every other Bravo show, Princesses: Long Island is that rare Bravo series, much like last summer's Gallery Girls, where the characters have no discernible redeeming qualities and make you want to throw things at your television set in hopes that it will break, thereby ensuring you never have to see this tripe ever again.

Princesses: Long Island begins with Chanel, a Modern Orthodox Jew. According to her family' beliefs, she keeps kosher, observes the Sabbath, and will not move out of her parents' house until she's married. At 27, she's starting to be known as an "old maid" of Long Island; to make matters worse, her younger sister is planning her wedding. Chanel isn't all bad, especially compared to the other girls on the show. She's a carbon copy of a young Barbra Streisand (obviously, there had to be at least one on a show like this, right?), and she's prone to constant whining about her sister, her ex-boyfriend, and her totally awful life. Next we meet her best friend from high school, 29 year-old Erica; she used to be known as, according to Chanel, "the prettiest girl on Long Island." Used to be... now she's living at home, despite not having the same religious beliefs that keep Chanel in the nest, and courting some guy on and off. But guys, they've been together sporadically for almost ten months... it's really serious.

Then... then. I don't even know how to broach the subject of Ashlee. I hate her so much. It's that kind of irrational hatred that we can only feel for reality television personalities. Bravo really does this kind of hate better than any other network. It's the kind of hate people feel toward Danielle Staub of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, or Kenya Moore of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. It's the kind of hate that transcends sanity. There is no reason for us to be feeling this kind of hate toward someone we don't know, someone who has never slighted or wronged or personally offended us. But we feel it. We see them being so manipulative and outrageous and offensive and infuriatingly snobbish that we can't help but hate them. I know, I'm sick; I give in to these feelings. And Ashlee brings them out of me. From her high-pitched voice to her gloating ("I'm never going to clean my room. That's what Mom is for!") to her blatant disregard for reality (upon being confronted by chain link fence, she calls her father and cries because she is scared she is in a bad neighborhood) or for anyone else's feelings, Ashlee is the most clueless mess to be found on Bravo. She is so condescending, so offensively stereotypical of a JAP (she even embraces that moniker), that I can't help but hope the season ends with her being tossed into the Long Island Sound.

There are other girls too: Amanda, the sole cast member in a relationship (even if he is kind of a pervert and behaves the same way as these annoying girls), who talks like she's perpetually drunk; and Joey, one of Ashlee's friends who blends into the background until her crazy friend explodes at a party late in the premiere, but who I hate simply by association. And apparently there are new cast members coming in subsequent episodes... joy. They're all annoying, over-the-top, and loud. In that respect, coupled with the strong theme of familial bonds, Princesses: Long Island is perfectly suited to pair with the fifth season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. The difference is that the ladies on RHONJ stand for something and have lives to lead. The girls on Princesses don't seem to do anything but complain, shop, and drink Manischewitz. By the episode's end, Erica is throwing a pool party. You're all approaching thirty; you're a little too old to be hosting/attending pool parties at your parents' house. Chanel even says, "Ever since high school, Erica's thrown the best parties. Today is gonna be cray cray." But the problem is that you are not in high school anymore. You are adults. And that's really the problem with the ladies on the show: they don't seem to realize that they haven't grown up at all. Though Chanel does also speak the episode's wisest and most telling line, after everyone starts screaming and fighting over a Facebook message from a year ago (yes, really): "This is why none of us are married."

Typically, this kind of behavior from a cast of crazy characters would make for great reality TV. But Princesses: Long Island made me feel like I was actually becoming dumber by watching it. I'm all for watching dumb people do dumb things, but it's hard to watch dumb people lead dumb, empty, clueless lives. These ladies really don't have much going for them: they're not intelligent, they're not interesting, and they don't do anything worthwhile. It's like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, minus their self-awareness. So yes, basically what I'm saying is that the cast of Bravo's Princesses: Long Island makes the Kardashians look intelligent by comparison. Who knew that was even possible?

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