I never really got why Jersey Shore made Italians so mad until I caught the first episode of Princesses: Long Island, a.k.a. Jewish Girls Yelling.
Bravo’s latest attempt at a reality franchise is to the Chosen People as Jersey was to the People of the Boot — with a few generous spoonfuls of the Real Housewives thrown in for good measure. The show, which airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET, follows a half-dozen stunted, childish women who are basically Gilda Radner’s jeans-clad Jewess brought to life: They still live with their rich parents even though most of them are pushing 30. They’re jobless more often than not, though one, Amanda, is trying to pull a Bethenny Frankel with an absurd line of “drink hankies” (“machine washable, eco-friendly” cozies in leopard and zebra-printed fabrics). Amanda doesn’t realize that the actual Bethenny of the group is Joey, a sloe-eyed brunette who’s living at home (in — gasp — Freeport, referred to by another
character cast member as “the ghetto”) just to save money while she tries to get her own silly small business off the ground.
All six of the main princesses are loudly and proudly Jewish, a fact that they can’t help but mention every few minutes — when they’re reciting old Yiddish proverbs at the beginning of every episode, when they’re asking random men at parties if they happen to be Members of the Tribe (typical response: “F— no!”), when they’re making increasingly labored puns about bagels and schmears in their confessional interviews (via lines that are clearly not scripted). All they care about is getting married; the guys don’t have to be funny, cute, smart, or interesting, provided they also happen to be rich and Jewish.
I want to hunt down and shake the Princesses for baldly reinforcing horrible, outdated stereotypes about our people; haven’t the Jews suffered enough? And yet. And yet. I also can’t stop watching this damn show, even though (or maybe because) these people may be history’s greatest monsters. Still not convinced? Let’s rank the players from most to least likeable, Gallery Girls-style:
A 27-year-old Modern Orthodox “old maid” who’s actually pretty great, except when she’s being racist. (“A ghetto-ass guy on the side of the road could bitch-slap you,” she warns fellow Princess Erica at an “intermenschion” (UGH).) She’s got great hair, an endearingly goofy personality, and a drunken alter-ego named Coco. If Chanel just ditched her parents’ place for the Upper West Side, she could easily find a nice doctor or rabbi or whatever to settle down with. Meshugana quotient: 2/10
The group’s token “poor” friend, which really just means that her dad doesn’t give her $100,000 even when she asks him for it nicely. (Cue pout.) Á la Bethenny, Joey is supposed to be the relatable one and a port in the other girls’ crazy. In practice, she’s just extra judgmental — and considering her role, Joey probably should be a lot more self-aware than she is. She’s trying to launch Kissamint, a combination lip balm/breath freshener that’s kinda dumb yet a million times more viable than Drink Hanky. Meshugana quotient: 4/10
A.K.A. inventor of Drink Hanky, a.a.k.a. Stefani Germanotta’s heavy-lidded sister from another mister. Though she’s the youngest of the bunch at 26, Amanda is dating a skeevy 40-something who’d be a better match for her mother, Babs — a card-carrying cougar who tags along when Amanda goes to parties or bathing suit shopping. She’d rank better than Joey if not for cradle-robbing Jeff — I feel like I need to physically wash my TV set every time he appears onscreen. Meshugana quotient: 6.5/10
As a teenager, Erica was known as “the hottest girl on Long Island.” Now she’s slowly going to seed, though she won’t let that stop her from getting stumbling-down drunk every single night. Erica has a boyfriend she doesn’t like very much, a terrible sense of balance, and awful taste in movies. (When she’s upset, the boy tries to make her feel better by quoting Anger Management.) To her, going to the gym and getting a manicure in the morning means she’s got a “big day” ahead. She’s the type of girl who claims that other girls “just don’t like her,” which actually means she’s just kind of a jerk. Meshugana quotient: 8/10
In theory, Casey should be ranked with Joey and Chanel — she actually has a job (as a waitress at the nightclub 1Oak), she’s attempting to better herself by living in New York and attending art school, and unlike most of the other girls, she’s overcome some real adversity (her dad left when she was a kid; in high school, Erica slept with her boyfriend). But Casey is also such a drip — seriously, who refuses to dance at a bar because she’d rather have fun “by [her]self”? Plus, on second thought, she probably should have let go of her exaggerated vendetta against Erica about nine years ago. Meshugana quotient: 8.25/10
Just call her Jewish Snooki, except a tiny bit taller (Ashlee is 4’9″; Snooki is 4’8″) and a zillion times more grating. She whines at the slightest provocation, calls her father constantly (when she’s driving through a “bad neighborhood,” when she’s making her bed, when she’s literally just met a guy she thinks is cute), and drops over $5,000 on shoes without batting a store-bought eyelash. Ashlee will only walk in heels, and if heels aren’t available, she’ll ask to be carried. She brings her own sheets to hotels and literally vomits if she thinks she spots a tiny stain. She is, in short, a creature who could only exist on reality television; Lord knows how she managed to make friends before the cameras started rolling. Meshugana quotient: 11/10
All in all, Princesses is classic train wreck TV — fascinating and disgusting in equal measure, something viewers both hate-watch and hate themselves for watching. So please, if this series is also holding you hostage, tell me: What scene has made you cringe the most? Do you agree with my rankings, or would you argue that one of the other girls is worse than Ashlee? (Show your work.)
And if you’ve never seen the show before, do these descriptions make you more likely to check it out — or chuck your TV out a window?