No summer show’s made me schvitz in anticipation more than Bravo’s Princesses Long Island. Ever since I watched the very first preview, I knew I’d be in love with it. I also knew I’d be offended by it. On one hand, I’m thrilled to see my people on a reality show. On the other hand, these people are not the best representation of my people. In fact they’re the reason people think it’s okay to say to me, “you live in New York City as a blogger, must be nice to have you parents helping you out.” On the third hand, these girls DO exist. A JAP isn’t a leprechaun or a unicorn of any other mythical creature. They’re very real. I’ve touched at least six in my life, physically. I’ve touched one emotionally. She would never admit it, but I think I changed her life when I showed her that you can call your father “dad” and not “daaahhhhhhhhddddddyyyyyyy.” The time she saved dropping all those vowels! So yeah, needless to say, I was pretty, pretty excited to watch the premiere. And man oh Manishevitz, did it deliver.
Am I offended? Eh. I guess if I wanted to be I could be. However I grew up in a place where people asked me if I was Chanukah, so it takes a little more than “every girl here drives a BMW” reference to make me cry. More than anything else right now, I’m entertained. While I know real live japs, I don’t know any who voluntarily still live at home. I’m much more familiar with the kind who graduate college and move right into the city and then run into me on the street and are like, “ohhh myy gawwwwddd Jenni, we have to get brunnnch, I know a great place that makes egg-white omelettes. I have spin on Saturdayayayay though.” However I know a lot of people who are going to be offended by this show because it does perpetuate some not-so-fun stereotypes.
So let’s talk about what happened and why it might offend people. But before we jump into the drama, let’s go over the four Jewish stereotypes that seem to upset the Jews I know the most. That will give you some understanding as to why 90% of the Jews I know freaked out when previews first started airing for the show. The first is that we’re cheap. The second is that we’re spoiled brats. And the third is that we have big noses. And I guess the bonus fourth that’s new for our generation is that we’re all cruising J-Date on the reg for a doctor to marry. This show mainly focuses on number two and the bonus fourth. It’s a show that features a bunch of young Jewish women and the entire premise of the show is that good Jewish girls don’t move out of their house until they meet a NJB (nice Jewish Boy). And while they wait for that happen, they happily let their parents take care of them. To add insult to injury, they act like this is standard Jewish behavior. I know spoiled girls — Jewish and not Jewish — and these girls make them look like common paupers.
First up on our list of stay-at-home-singles is Chanel Omari. I think she calls herself Coco, but I refuse to do that, so we will call her Chanel. She’s struggling a little bit because her younger sister’s engaged and she’s not. To make that even worse, her ex-boyfriend recently dumped her for his 19-year-old ex. While I’m not a mathematician, I feel like something’s not right with those numbers — as in, how old was the ex when he dated her? I’m sure we’ll find out more about that later in the season, so let’s not dwell on it too much right now.
While eating dinner with her family, Chanel mentions that she’s a modern Orthodox Jew. This is where my possibly-offensive censors go off. The idea of being reform, conservative and orthodox usually throws non-Jews for a loop. Especially the kind of non-Jews who still sorta believe Jews have horns (they exist, I sadly know this). And since Chanel’s modern orthodox and not traditional orthodox, it only gets more confusing. You know what confusion leads to? Misunderstandings. Those are never good when it comes to a group of people who have access to the Internet and know how to comment.
Next up is Erica Gimbel. We immediately learn that she was the IT girl on Long Island back in the day, as in she threw best parties. What that translates to in real life…I don’t know. But what it means for a Bravo reality show is that she’s being set up to be the queen bee of the group. While she’s not married yet, she is dating Rob. We don’t know a lot about Rob right now besides the fact that she didn’t even notice him in high school. But that’s only because she was way tooooo cool for a kid like Rob.
After Erica, we meet Ashlee White and oh my gawd, I love her so much. If Elaine Carroll’s Very Mary Kate married a NJB, their baby would be Ashlee White. We meet her at the salon where she’s getting a mani-pedi with her father. They’re like, very, very close. While many Jews try not to use the word jap to describe themselves (but gladly use it on other people), Ashlee tells us she’s not offended when people call her one, “bring it, I’m Jewish, I’m American, I’m a princess.” While we can confirm she’s Jewish and American, I’m still waiting to hear back about the princess thing. This is the second time my offense-o-meter went off. It’s cool for Jews to call other Jews japs (fine it’s not cool and it’s still an insult, but it’s not the worst thing you can do), it’s absolutely not okay for a non-jew to do that. This kind of behavior might make people think otherwise. So that’s not super-great. But back to someone who is super-great: Ashlee.
Currently Ashlee has two problems in her life. One, she’s husband hunting but can’t find anyone as awesome as her Dad. (Problem one and a half: she suffers from Shallow Hal syndrome because her father doesn’t strike me as the greatest human being alive.) Problem two, she’s only 4’9 and therefore won’t go anywhere without heels. ANYWHERE. Which brings us to my favorite reality TV moment of the year. Ashlee actually asks one of the men who works at the salon to piggy back her to her car since she can’t be seen in her flats — and she can’t put her heels back on at the moment. It’s insane and it’s amazing and I think I want throw Ashlee in my purse and take her everywhere with me. She can even bring her sweatpants heels with her.
After meeting Ashlee, we get to acquainted with Amanda Bertoncini and her boyfriend Jeff. He’s 38, she’s 26 and they’re getting married. Has he proposed? No. But whatever, that’s like a non-issue because they’re in love. In a scene that makes me wildly uncomfortable, Jeff and Amanda…and Amanda’s mom go bathing suit shopping together (for the pool party! more on that later!). Jeff needs to come because he wants to see Amanda in a bathing suit. Her mom needs to come because bathing suits don’t buy themselves. DUH. Jeff’s very into Amanda. So into her that i’m starting to suspect he isn’t into her. Like, we get it Jeff, you find her sexy. Drop all the “oh baby’s, you’re about to put a hole in my pants” comments because they’re overkill. Also because you’re talking about her mom in a one-piece and that’s crossing a line. It’s good to be nice to your potential mother-in-law. It’s bad to be hitting on her as she struts around in a bathing suit looking for compliments from her daughter’s boyfriend. Amanda, as well as the rest of the girls, focus so much on marriage that it could make people believe that all Jewish girls are just waiting around for a husband to take care of them. File this under the third thing that might get Jews all riled up. Then get your head back in the game because we have one more girl to meet.
It’s Joey Lauren and she’s our Ryan Atwood of the series. She’s from the other side of the tracks. Unlike all these stuck up bitches, she worked hard to get where she is right now. Yeah, she’ll party with them and yeah she’ll use their pool — but only because at the end of the day she knows South Shore girls are much more fun. Hellz yeah Joey! Once all the meet ‘n greets are done, we finally get to the drama.
While I went into the show thinking that I would want to call up my rabbi and file a class-action defamation suit, I’m nowhere near as offended as I thought I would be. Scarily enough, I’m really into and I can’t wait for more. While there’s plenty here to be offended by, it’s really nowhere as horrible as other things I’ve seen and heard in my own personal life. And that includes comments like “you’re so Jewish” when I bend over to pick up a quarter. Or backhanded compliments like, “you don’t look Jewish at all!” So yeah, things could be much worse on this show than they are and I for one am going to watch it like I watch any other reality show — filled with horror and delight and guilt that I’m spending my time this way.