It was memorable and delightful back when the original Sex and the City foursome rented a car for a weekend getaway and barely knew how to drive the thing. There was something charming about a group of confident and fashion-savvy big-city women who were somehow lacking the most basic of life skills. We couldn't necessarily relate to them, but we liked them.
Now we have an entirely different brand of woman infiltrating our television screens: The anointed Bravo princess. She comes in many forms — a Real Housewife, the baby mama of a hip-hop producer, or, perhaps, the owner of her own wig/chardonnay/high heel line. Some of these characters we like. Others, we hate. And somewhat miraculously, the network's newest offering, Princesses: Long Island, outdoes all previous iterations of the Bravo princess. That's saying something.
Six Jewish-American twenty- and thirty-somethings make up the cast. They're confident on camera and primed for Bravo with their clanking jewelry, teetering platform shoes, and heaving cleavage. These spoiled Jewish women are on the hunt for husbands on Long Island as their looming parents fret uncontrollably about their withering romantic prospects.
It's actually not a bad premise. Certainly, plenty of women in their late twenties and early thirties can relate to the wedding-induced mania that sweeps through life after college, capable of forever altering friendships and turning normal-seeming women into ring-hungry monsters. But in the end, the bulk of Princesses: Long Island is remarkably similar to Housewives and Co. The focus is on these women and their mostly catty relationships. Their occupations (or lack thereof) are irrelevant. Instead, it's like P: LI cast member Casey says, "The car you drive, the bag on your arm, and the guy you date is pretty much who you are in Long Island."
These gals live at home with their parents while they hunt for husbands (the norm in their community) and don't work much, though the Bravo website proudly states that they're all college graduates. There's blonde, bubbly Chanel, whose family is Jewish Modern Orthodox and focused on her little sister's impending nuptials. It's a burn for Chanel, who sees herself as an old maid at 27 and cringes at seeing her sister tying the knot (and being happy?). Then there's Erica, 29, who was apparently the queen of the scene back in high school but unlucky in love now. Her big brown eyes and love of partying seem to spell out the rest of her season's arc pretty clearly. Tiny 4'9" Ashlee is a catastrophic person on all fronts (she breaks down in hysterics when a dress shop is closed after getting slightly turned around in a poorer neighborhood than her own), but at least has a delightfully mustachioed dad named Hal who likes to get pedicures with his teensy offspring.
Amanda, 26, has positively enormous eyes, curves for days, and flowing blonde hair that are only matched by her mom's completely mirror appearance. The two are clearly (and sadly) competing for the same male gaze, which is only confirmed when they go bikini shopping together... with Amanda's boyfriend. It's truly one of the most uncomfortable reality TV scenes I've ever watched in my life. Just try watching Amanda's much older boyfriend tell her, "You look unbelievable. You are my baby," while her mom struts around next to her in a Kardashian-style cutout bathing suit.
The show introduces us to this privileged world, but makes little headway in helping anyone care about the women. Their near-constant whining about singlehood and the overall lack of marriage material can be easily found in any boozed-up corner of any wedding ever in existence. While some of their family dynamics could potentially play out in entertaining ways, the sheer one-note-ness of the six leads will be almost impossible to overcome.
The episode ends with a particularly confusing and awkward fight at a pool party that seems to have something to do with someone "poking" another person on Facebook. It's unclear and makes everyone look like a drunken jerk that you would instantly veer away from at any bar or social gathering. So, to willingly pop them onto your TV screen each week feels even less enticing. You're better off watching SATC reruns and laughing at Miranda's hair.
More reality show drive-bys...
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
Subscribe to the Week