by Jana Banin
JTA News and Features
Princesses: Long Island, the new reality show on Bravo, appears to be as bad for the Jews as we had feared.
Like some other cultural gems on the network, such as the “Real Housewives” franchise and Shahs of Sunset, the new offering centers on a few spunky, wealthy women who live to shop, date and throw tantrums.
These princesses live in a magical land called Long Island, where 20-something Jewish women wait for Jewish men to arrive from Wall Street and sweep them off their feet and out of their parents’ suburban castles.
On the premiere episode that aired Sunday night, the Jewish angle was established almost immediately: The camera panned to welcome signs for Jewishly dense towns like Great Neck and Roslyn, along with images of a synagogue and Judaica store.
First we meet Chanel, a “Modern Orthodox” 27-year-old.
“We keep kosher, keep Shabbos, and we live at home until we’re married,” she says of her religious affiliation.
Chanel is having a hard time. Not only is she dealing with the breakup with her boyfriend of 10 months, who left her for a 19-year-old, her 24-year-old sister is marrying before her. Chanel also is a friend of Erica, who in high school was known as “the hottest girl on Long Island.”
Next up is Ashlee, whom we meet while she is having a pedicure with her adoring dad, who laughs at every awful comment that comes out of her mouth. “My father is amazing,” the 29-year-old gushes.
Enter Amanda, 26, who lives with her overbearing, co-dependent mother, Barbara, who “thinks she’s my best friend.” Amanda is one of the lucky ones – she’s in a serious relationship with Jeff, a 38-year-old guy she met on the Long Island Rail Road.
Amanda’s familial and romantic relationships are the source of some of the show’s juiciest material. She is certain she’s going to marry Jeff, and she talks about it – a lot.
Meanwhile, her meddling mother is calling in the middle of the couple’s “hot” date and tagging along when he takes Amanda shopping for bathing suits.
“Jeff loves to see me in a bathing suit, and I’m bringing my mom so she can pay,” Amanda says.
Jeff, who speaks in the same whiny Long Island drawl as his girlfriend and her friends, has a creepy vibe. At a pool party Erica throws at her cousin’s “ridonculous” mansion, a sassy woman named Sarah accosts the happy couple and pisses off Amanda by announcing she is Facebook friends with Jeff.
It turns out the Sarah-Jeff relationship online isn’t so innocent. Jeff, like, totally stalked Sarah on Facebook, and he is, she confirms, a freak. Then Sarah describes him using a gay slur and all hell breaks loose. Insults are hurled, tears are shed, drinks are thrown.
The party not only permits the requisite reality show drama, it’s also a device to convey the geography and class distinctions of the area. Sarah is a “typical South Shore girl,” while the main characters hail from the much more upscale North Shore. Sarah was invited to the party by fellow South Shore resident Joey, whom we met earlier when Ashlee picked up Sarah for a shopping trip.
“Oy, I’m in Freeport and it’s not what I’m used to,” Ashlee exclaims over the phone to her dad as she drives through Joey’s neighborhood. He calms his daughter by telling her to appreciate what she has.
“I know people don’t live like us,” she says. “I want to give everyone a hug and then get the hell out.”