10 April 2009

Fakeness and Hyper-Reality in NYC

Apparently, Gossip Girl just isn't real enough for some people's tastes and a new series called NYC Prep is beginning in June on the Bravo Network. Bravo has also run such gems as The Real Housewives of NYC, which followed five mostly unlikable New York women as they attempt to network, schmooze and social climb. 

These days, no trashy soap can be properly validated until it has its own reality-show equivalent. The O.C., for example, had Laguna Beach, which later became the longer-running show The Hills, which again followed some fairly unlikable, rich, pretty teenagers as they did...well, not a lot. Nominally, I guess they had some kind of internships "in fashion" but this was more to give the shows a little structure than anything else. When I was in LA, I saw an episode being filmed in the bar we were in--Luna Park. They filmed the three women (who looked pretty much identical except that one had brown hair and two were blondes) pretending to converse and gesticulate and attempt to be interesting for about three hours. I watched the episode when it aired (the only time I've watched The Hills) and the scene was edited to about 90 not very interesting seconds. I told the guy I was with at the time that he should go in and try to chat them up--as an English guy, they would probably have loved it and then the film crew might have got something amusing out of the day's filming.

As Josh Schwartz, the creator of The O.C. and Gossip Girl, is so tongue-in-cheek it's a wonder his tongue doesn't burst through his cheek, he had some of the characters in The O.C. religiously watch a made-up spin-off called The Valley (one episode went that little bit too meta when the characters of The O.C. met the actors of The Valley filming on a beach). I wouldn't be surprised, then, if there is some reference on Gossip Girl to NYC Prep. The latter, for the record, sounds hideous. If grown women want to make themselves look like ridiculous, snobby arrivistes on national TV in exchange for a little bit of money and a little bit of fame/infamy, as on The Real Housewives of NYC, that is their business. Allowing teenagers to do this doesn't sound like a very good idea but then again, their families have clearly consented to it. Most of them plan to apply to college, for example; do they really think that appearing on this show will help their application?

The Daily Intel isn't too impressed by the unveiling of the bios of the Real NYC Prepsters either, although they seem mostly concerned that a) they cannot snark about the teens because they are, after all, real teens and b) the personalities of the "characters" are pirated from those of the Gossip Girl characters (personally, I think they have to stretch this a bit and selectively edit, but I see their point). Perhaps I'd better not watch the first episode in case I get sucked into the compulsive train-wreck viewing it will almost certainly be.

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