Princesses of Long Island: We React
After the initial episode of Princesses of Long Island aired, I sat down with my friend Chanel Dubofsky (who, it is worth mentioning, shares a name but none of the traits of one of the stars of the new reality TV show.) We decided to transcribe our conversation, as we attempted to take on and understand the issues behind the show.
Jordyn: There are certain aspects of Jewishly relevant culture that I miss the boat on. For instance, I’ve never seen the show Girls. Come to think of it, I’ve also never seen Sex and the City, and I long ago gave up on Glee. So, like it or not, I wasn’t about to let another Jewish show pass me by, and I turned on Princesses of Long Island. Although...I really wish I hadn’t.
Chanel: I can’t believe it took Bravo so long to come up with this concept. It’s like Jersey Shore, except...worse? Or better? Cleaner, maybe?
Jordyn: Wealthier? And, perhaps I say this because I am Jewish, more embarrassing.
Chanel: I was immediately confused by so many things, but I can’t figure out if it’s because I’m just not as familiar with the “culture” we’re being presented with as I thought I was? Is living at home until you’re married really a thing? Or is it just a thing on this show?
Jordyn: I think that’s my biggest problem. To me, this is not Jewish culture. Jewish culture means being nerdy, awkward, and staying home to knit and drink tea. It’s not shopping for (and modeling) bathing suits with your mom and boyfriend.
It’s not refusing to walk in flats because you’re 4 foot 9. (Although being 4 foot 9, yes, that is what being Jewish is about.)
Chanel: Also, Erica, PLEASE, for the love of Reform Judaism, PULL IT TOGETHER and don’t say things like, “we’re Reform, which means we’re not that Jewish.”
Jordyn: My mouth literally dropped when she said that. Had I been eating popcorn at the time, I would have thrown it at the TV.
Chanel: I think I’m confused by how much was going on in this episode. I mean, there’s Ashlee’s entire existence, which is dissertation worthy, the Jeff/Amanda/Babs Triangle of Terror, Joey, and all the class stuff in general, the expectations around marriage and babies, plus, I think there was a minute and a half at the pool party where everything was kind of fun and normal?
Jordyn: Yet, with everything going on, there was nothing that I recognized of the Jewish community. The clueless, simple, and ungrateful girls I saw on my screen appalled me. Is this really how America views Jewish culture—vapid and materialistic?
Chanel: I do think the Jewish community definitely erases Jews who don’t have money, and I’m not talking about Jews who live in Joey’s neighborhood. (Here’s what she said about Ashlee’s breakdown in her blog—it makes me think Joey might have it together more than anyone on this show? I am loathe to speak too soon.)
Jordyn: I’m curious to see where the show goes next—and if the portrayal continues to be so over the top. I know this world exists, but Bravo portrays it almost as a caricature of Jewish wealth.
Chanel: I am predictably fascinated by all the marriage emphasis/pressure and how each woman reacts to it. Every parental figure on the show is flipping out about having unmarried daughters over the age of 25.
Jordyn: The marriage pressure on the show embarrasses me—not as someone who is Jewish, but as someone who is a woman. The need to jump from parents providing to a husband providing, with no sense of responsibility or self-worth makes me very uncomfortable.
Chanel: Ohhhh, yes. Agreed. It’s about The Sexism, and the backdrop just happens to be Long Island, so other things intersect with it (race, class, etc.) That being said, I am definitely going to be watching the next episode.