This month I am very excited to divulge my newest television obsession, now some people like to call them “guilty pleasures” but that would mean I’m even remotely embarrassed about what I watch and for the most part I am shameless. My name is Denise and I am addicted to Princesses: Long Island.
Basically this show is about a small populace on Long Island of wealthy Jewish families and their belief that women should stay home and be treated like princesses until they can marry a nice, Jewish boy who will then take her away and treat her like a queen. Bravo has a really bad habit of taking the concept of reality television and drilling it into your skull with the subtlety of Fran Drescher’s laugh. This show is no exception. Each episode starts with a Jewish proverb that sets the theme for the next hour of non-stop shrieking and name-calling and whining. Oh sweet god, the whining. Don’t give these women a chance to whine about something because they will.
I’m not an idiot; I don’t think all educated, adult Jewish women behave like this. However after going to private school for 13 years I have come across my fair share of spoiled bitches. The biggest backlash of criticism has been the usual “I’m from Long Island and this isn’t what it’s like at all!” or “As a Jewish woman this show is offensive because I would never act like this!” Well, duh. Of course you wouldn’t, but that’s also why there isn’t a camera crew following you around while you reblog pictures of Doctor Who fan art*. I’m not sure if they really drop Yiddish into their daily vocabulary but while it might annoy some people I think it’s hilarious like a delightful surprise. With episode titles like “You Had Me At Shalom”, “Shabbocalypse Now”, and “Intermenschion” how could you not giggle your lox off.
As far as the characters on the show there are a few that stand out and a couple that sort of fade in and out of the limelight. The main “protagonist” is Chanel, a sweet girl who I actually have grown to like. All she wants to do is have fun and be happy however she feels like the society she lives in is pressuring her to get married and that is only heightened by her younger sister’s upcoming wedding. Ashlee is your typical Daddy’s Girl but taken to such an extreme it’s uncomfortable to watch. One of my good friends has older parents and she is very close with them, sometimes claiming them as two of her best friends, that is sweet. Ashlee’s relationship with her parents is not only completely dependent (one night Mom and Pop are away so she invited two girls over because she can’t sleep alone in the house) but also borderline creepy. And Joey, who at first I thought would be my favorite due to her strong work ethic and lack of rich parents. But it turns out Joey might not have been born rich but if she had a nickel for every bad decision she made she could probably buy a nice Long Island palace. From inviting a crazy bitch to a pool party in the first episode to asking totally inappropriate questions at speed dating to making Ashlee her arch nemesis.
The other three girls are interesting in the way some commercials are interesting. Sometimes they catch your eye and you’re surprised by how entertained you are but then you forget about it minutes later. Casey seemed like she would also be a favorite but even though she left Long Island to live in the city, Long Island did not leave her. Amanda’s voice makes me want to rip my face off but she seems to have her head on her shoulders pretty tightly. However, her overbearing mother and her wildly creepy boyfriend are her biggest plot points and I can’t stand either of them. And then finally there’s Erica who is the ultimate party girl and by default the biggest joke of them all. She’s the Snooki of the group; lots of drinking and falling down, lots of crying, and lots of yelling.
So, after all that why do I even bother watching? Well, because I have trouble sleeping and I love watching catfights. There is something very fun about getting a glimpse into the vastly different lives of women my age. These are women who spend their parent’s money and then complain about how much pressure their parents put on them to find a husband. Plus the way they act towards each other is fascinating. I have never done well in large groups of women, my social anxiety increases tenfold the second I realize more than two women are near me. And while I know reality shows are only capturing the most melodramatic moments, the feeling I get from watching hysteric meltdowns is the same shameful euphoria I get when I eat half a tub of chocolate frosting with a spoon.
Last week’s penultimate episode featured a large shout-match in a vineyard but that isn’t my favorite moment so far. I think the best scenes are during Amanda’s party for her Drink Hanky (I don’t even know how to explain that). At least three different arguments erupt and every time you think it’s over it starts up all over again. Imagine the end of Return of the King but instead of half a dozen false endings you have drunk ladies dressed in all white that won’t stop yelling at each other.
This show is not for everyone. It’s a beautiful train wreck. I don’t binge on reality television to feel better about myself, I do it because it’s entertaining. People-watching is one of my favorite pastimes and this is no different than watching angry, sweaty parents at Disneyland. This is a facet of humanity that I would have never been exposed to beforehand. If you re-watch Band of Brothers on a regular basis and your idea of a compelling female lead is Rachel Maddow then Princesses: Long Island will probably grate your nerves and before you know it you’ll be on Facebook bitching to everyone about how awful the show is. Trust me, I know it’s awful but that’s the point. Bravo isn’t trying to deliver quality television, it’s aiming for people who don’t want to think while they watch. And after a long day of trying to explain how Flashpoint lead into New 52, I’m one of those people.
*Not that there is anything wrong with reblogging Doctor Who fan art, I have done so myself quite often, but let’s be real people will not be tuning in every week to watch it.