One of the most grating things about “Princesses” is the abundance of forced Jewisms. You can’t go five minutes without hearing an “oy vey” or a “mazel tov,” and when you do it’s impossible not to imagine the producers coaching the characters on the sidelines, reminding them of the singular thing that makes their show different from the “Real Housewives” franchise.
Last night’s episode was shaping up to be entirely typical in this respect. A dinner at Erica’s house begins with her mom stumbling through a jokey and poorly executed blessing. Amanda sets Ashlee up with Marcos, a 51-year-old Venezuelan man “with amenities” who dispenses “shalom”s with tic-like frequency. And then Amanda, tagging along on Joey’s low-budget apartment hunt, adds a “there’s no mezuzah on the door!” to her collection of comments dissing the divey options. (Granted, that line was a lot better than “the closet is the same size as my hamper,” and “I can’t even fit my tits in here.” But that’s another story.)
At around the halfway mark, though, things turned around, and for the first time all season we are treated to a pretty legitimately authentic taste of Jewish culture: Chanel’s sister’s Great Neck wedding.
We sort of assumed the focus would be entirely on Chanel’s sky-high stress level—the bride is (gasp!) her younger sister, and Chanel was understandably nervous about making a speech in front of 400 people. But ultimately the traditional event (Chanel’s family is modern orthodox) took center stage.
“I’ve never been around so much Jewishness,” Casey said to Ashlee as they waited for the ceremony to begin from their seats in the women’s section. “The last time I was in Temple was maybe my bat mitzvah in 1997.” (Interestingly, these two princesses are the only ones who showed up. Maybe the producers were actually considerate enough to not spoil the wedding with too much cheesy drama? Maybe Casey and Ashlee are Chanel’s only true friends from the cast? Discuss.)
We got to see the ketubah signing, Chanel receiving a blessing from her sister under the chuppah, and some simcha dancing. More than just providing proof to the Bravo audience—and Ashlee and Casey—that Judaism can involve something beyond Manischewitz and Yiddish catch phrases, this segment is full of actual, non-staged emotion. It’s quite refreshing.
We even felt sort of genuinely relieved when Chanel’s speech killed, and it was nice to see that when it came down to it she was able to push her personal feelings aside and really celebrate with her family. She’s by far the show’s most likeable character, and last night that actually meant something.
As Ashlee so deftly put it, “Today Chanel is a Jewish goddess. She’s like Barbra Streisand, Natalie Portman, and The Nanny all rolled into one.”