Slated to premiere later this month, Bravo’s “NYC Prep” is already stirring up drama off the airwaves. And modeled as a reality “Gossip Girl,” it’s easy to see why—the preview episode checks off just about every controversy box, from underage drinking caught on camera to bitchy admissions about wealth and sex. Just how long did everyone think this would last before the slew of legal headaches presented themselves? The head of Nightingale-Bamford, an all-girls school where one of the show’s characters is enrolled, has already sent a letter to parents and alums criticizing the exposure. Time Out published the letter in full, but here are a few excerpts…
The decision to participate in the show was made by the student and her parents without consulting Nightingale’s administrators. We counsel our girls to avoid such exposure, knowing that best intentions are usually subsumed by a media machine that too often simplifies the many facets of a Nightingale education into a shallow and stereotypical view of independent schools. (As with most series of this genre, the show is “reality” in name only.) Ultimately, though, these decisions reside with the families themselves. Our goal at Nightingale has always been to help each of our girls find her unique voice; it is up to each of them to determine how and when to use that voice.
This is not the first time that someone has presented a skewed version of our world, nor will it be the last, so we approach this situation as we have handled others previously: focused on providing our girls the world-class education that has long defined Nightingale.
Nightingale’s reaction is surely only the beginning of a war. As someone who attended a Manhattan private school, I would know. When stuff like this happens, disciplinary action follows. Money might get some of these kids by unscathed, but the landscape of NYC independent schools is about to be questioned through real people and places, and no school will put up with a scathed image and reputation for long.
Starting June 23rd, I’ll be re-capping episodes of “NYC Prep,” telling you what I think is truth, lies, or plain stupidity (gonna guess this will probably happen a lot).
Here’s what I can tell you so far: it’s incredibly contrived (duh). For the most part, I imagine these kids were put in a room and told to talk about sex, drugs, or money. At first, I couldn’t really wrap my mind around how these girls would admit to doing illegal things knowing their parents would be watching, so I’m going to take a gander and guess that bottles of alcohol would conveniently find themselves around while filming in order for them to loosen up that much. It seems the gang is only now realizing what they’ve gotten themselves into. Joshua David Stein reports on the first episode press screening attended by the cast for the New York Times: “The teenage stars…looked anxious, like kids caught doing something naughty, unsure of the punishment that awaits them.”
As for the “elite” factor, I’ll have to do some more digging, but my hunch is that old money steered clear of this project, as there are no students from the crème de la crème schools like Dalton, Horace Mann, or Spence. The NY Post has given a rundown on the cast, exposing their schools and full names. One of the girls, Jessie Leavitt, is a senior at Dwight, a school that (at least back in my day), was a C-list institution known for its cocaine addicts and problem kids who got kicked out of Riverdale. Another, Sebastian Oppenheim, is a sophomore at the Ross School in East Hampton. The Ross School? WTF is that? And it’s not even in the city.
However, what I can tell you is that the attitude rings true. There was always the high-rolling player, girls who hid their below-average looks behind expensive bronzers and lip gloss (and got away with being popular because of money), and boys with no brains who thought they knew everything.
Just like every high school, right?