Amid much anticipation, Bravo’s new “real-life Gossip Girl” series, “NYC Prep,” debuted last night, delivering the expected. For weeks, critics and Bravo fans have been fairly certain that the series would show a crew of despicable, entitled teenagers, a prediction that came largely with feelings of anger and harsh criticism. So, what did you get? Stuck-up teens who you couldn’t help yelling at for an hour, who, you realized you just love to hate. It’s a hit! Read on for a run-down, reactions from the NYC private school community, plus my take on things as a former prepster.Oh man, all I can say is that I’m so glad I’m not in high school anymore. Of course, to say all NYC prep school kids are like this is to generalize, but there’s no denying that every school has one of these characters (it’s clear to see why the producers chose them, picking different archetypes). New money. Except for PC, who is a more interesting situation I’ll address later.
The hour was filled up with only about 2/3 new material. A lot of what we saw you got in the preview episode. Mainly, the producers used the time to acquaint the audience with the characters, and set up a love triangle between Kelli, Sebastian, and Taylor.
We first meet PC and Jessie, who are supposed to be a power duo (they used to date, but are just friends now, or something). Jessie is a blond whose passion is fashion (“I treat my clothes like they’re my children”). She is the kind of girl who thinks she is pretty, but the unfortunate truth is that she’s just a bit weird looking, kind of like she’s inbred. She also raises money for Operation Smile, a charity for children with facial deformities. Huh, okay, that makes sense now. It’s clear that Jessie’s family lacks old-world class. The few shots in her house are telling. The grand piano in her living room is a cherry veneer. New money people buy these or white pianos because that’s what they think is classy. There are also corny family photos in picture frames.
PC, however, is the only kid on the show that does come from society money and his family is likely s**tting themselves now, once they realized what this show is all about. PC hails from the Peterson family; his grandfather is Pete Peterson, a financial mogul with political ties who is worth over $1 billion. Not only does PC seem like a brat, but now the world is also wondering whether he’s outing himself. There’s no denying that PC comes off as potentially gay with his fashion and shopping obsessions, and effeminate mannerisms.
PC and Jessie go to Dwight, which was right next door to my old high school. We didn’t like these kids and had an acronym for them: Dumb White Idiots Getting High Together. There was another similar acronym, too, but I can’t remember it. In an attempt to perform some damage control, Dwight, like Nightingale (another school involved in the show), issued a letter to alums addressing behavior: “As stated in our Student/Parent Handbook, students must maintain high ethical standards and behave, both on and off campus, in ways that reflect favorably upon the School, their families, and themselves. While the two students who participated in this show are now graduates, we would like to remind our current families that there is “zero tolerance” for students who find themselves in a similar situation and violate the spirit of this rule.” [NY Times]
Then there’s Kelli, the aspiring singer and student at Birch Wathen Lenox who lives alone and is blander than vanilla. She’s so typical of a prep school kid it’s boring: she’s thin (just sayin’) and has the token long, shiny hair. She becomes interested in playboy Sebastian, the shaggy-haired French dude who says his passion is hooking up with girls, which he does, on average, he says, with 2-16 girls a month. HA! Sure. Sebastian, do you realize in saying that you either come off as a total liar (who is hiding his insecurities from being a virgin or being gay) or that you’re advertising yourself as a walking STD? Kelli and Sebastian go on a shopping date, but Kelli steps down after she sees Sebastian in full-on flirt mode with other girls. We give her some props there. Avoid the headache.
That other girl is Taylor, the rube in the bunch because (gasp!) she goes to public school. Like OMG, there are just so many differences between public school and private school kids. Taylor wants to attempt to bridge the gap by having a party (and she tells her mom this. Why would you tell your mom you’re having a party?). I wasn’t surprised to see that this party was in a restaurant, which is an easy way to get around red tape. There was always a lot of restaurant socializing in high school, and you knew the places that served. We’d go to the bowling alley at Chelsea Piers and order pitchers of beer, knowing all you had to do was show the waitress a library or credit card so it just looked like she was checking IDs. Taylor is a bit of a climber and says that she likes her rich prep school friends because you can go out for a meal and they say, “oh I got this.” Uh, really? Because in my experience, rich people don’t like to pay for other peoples’ shit.
Lastly, there’s Camille, who attends the all-girls Nightingale on the Upper East Side. Camille is clearly the girl who could never infiltrate the A-group, has spent life in the B-group, and is sick of it. She knew everything would change by being on television, and might be the biggest social climber in the group. She wants to get in with Jessie to work with Operation Smile. There was a bit of an upset in the private school community thanks to Camille’s disregard for community service she displayed in the preview episode. This, coupled with the rest of the show’s attitude, has clearly scared the scene, and NYCPrivateSchoolsBlog.com has reacted with an initiative that they hope changes prep school image: “The NYC Private Schools Blog has partnered with DonorsChoose.org to support NYC public schools. Our first campaign will begin on Tuesday, June 23 when Bravo’s NYC Prep premieres and will run through the first season of the show.” Interesting. But will that really do anything? [NYCPrivateSchoolsBlog.com]
Next week, some huge drama will go down, and there’s something about a death (if this turns out to be a pet, I will break necks). In general, the rest of the season looks like it will bring you more of what you saw, which everyone will continue to trash, as we watch six kids slowly ruin their futures. And of course we’ll be having the awesomest time doing just that.