Bravo, the network that brought us cultural gems like the “Real Housewives” franchise and “Shahs of Sunset” has added a new reality show to its lineup.
Like its predecessors, the program centers on a few spunky, wealthy women (and a couple of men, too) who live to shop, date, and tantrum. There is something that makes this bunch different, of course, and that’s their religious and cultural identity. Our princesses live in a magical land called Long Island, where 20-something Jewish women wait for Jewish men to arrive from Wall Street and sweep them off their feet—and out of their parents’ suburban castles.
We bet you’re sort of curious but also so repelled by this concept that you don’t know if you can bring yourself to spend an hour of your life watching wine-guzzling, marriage-obsessed characters spew lines like “Everyone has a stereotype of a Long Island Jewish Jewish girl. I say bring it! I’m Jewish, I’m American, and I’m a princess.” Don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for.
The premiere episode sets up the characters (a gaggle of spoiled, apparently unemployed women living with their parents) and the setting (their Long Island bubble). The Jewish angle is established straightaway in the intro, when the camera pans not only to welcome signs for Jew-dense towns like Great Neck and Roslyn, but also to images of a syanagogue and a Judaica store.
First we meet the unfortunately-named Chanel, a “Modern Orthodox” 27- year-old. “We keep kosher, keep Shabbos, and we live at home until we’re married,” she says of her religious affiliation.
Chanel is having a hard time. Her sister, 24, is getting married before her, and she herself is getting over a break up with her boyfriend of 10 months who left her for a 19-year-old. Ouch.
She’s friend’s with Erica, who in high school was known as “the hottest girl on Long Island.” At 29 Erica would be seriously pushing old maidenhood, but don’t pity her (yet?)—she has a boyfriend, Rob.
Next up is Ashlee, who we meet while she is getting a pedicure with her nauseatingly adoring dad. He laughs at every awful comment that comes out of her mouth, and the affection, it seems, it’s mutual.
“My father is amazing,” the 29-year-old gushes. “Why can’t you find men like that anymore?”
Ashlee might want to consider the male employee at the nail salon, who carries her out to the parking lot piggyback style instead of allowing her to endure the trauma of walking in the flip flops she’s wearing until her toenails are dry enough for her to don the towering platforms she arrived in.
Important Ashlee fact: She never wears flats. “I have my sweatpants heels, my beach heels, and my daytime heels,” she explains.
Enter Amanda, 26, who lives with her overbearing, co-dependent mother Barbara who “thinks she’s my best friend.” Amanda is one of the lucky ones—she’s in a serious relationship with Jeff, a 38-year-old professionally successful guy she met on the Long Island Rail Road.
Some of the juiciest stuff comes out of Amanda’s familial and romantic relationships. She’s certain she’s going to marry Jeff, and she talks about it—a lot. Meanwhile, her mother is constantly meddling, calling in the middle of the couple’s “hot” date, and tagging along when he takes Amanda shopping for bathing suits. “Jeff loves to see me in a bathing suit, and I’m bringing my mom so she can pay,” Amanda says, explaining why anyone would ever possibly go bathing suit shopping with her boyfriend and her mom.
It’s hard to decide what’s more disturbing—Babs trying on sexy bathing suits alongside her daughter, or Jeff’s staged, unconvincing commentary on how hot Amanda looks.
Jeff, who isn’t very attractive and speaks in the same whiny Long Island drawl as his girlfriend and her friends, has a super creepy vibe. We’re not the only ones who think so. At a pool party Erica throws at her cousin’s “ridonculous” mansion, a sassy woman named Sarah accosts the happy couple and pisses off Amanda by announcing she is Facebook friends with Jeff.
It turns out Sarah and Jeff’s online relationship is not innocent. Jeff, like, totally stalked Sarah on Facebook, and he is, she confirms, a freak. Then she crosses the line by calling him a “faggot,” and all hell breaks loose. Insults are hurled, tears are shed, drinks are thrown.
The party not only serves as a place where the requisite reality show drama can occur, but also as a device to help the audience understand the geography and class distinctions of the area.
See, Sarah is a “typical South Shore girl,” while the main characters hail from the much more upscale North Shore. Sarah was invited to the party by fellow South Shore resident Joey, who we met earlier when Ashlee picked her up for a shopping trip.
“Oy, I’m in Freeport and it’s not what I’m used to,” Ashlee exclaims over the phone to her dad as she drives through Joey’s neighborhood. He calms his daughter down a bit, telling her to be appreciative of what she has.
“I know people don’t live like us,” she says. “I want to give everyone a hug and then get the hell out.”
Hopefully that won’t take longer than one season.