Hating a show like “NYC Prep” is easy. A reality series about rich kids who live in the Upper East Side of New York? It’s like it’s screaming to be loathed. But I make no excuses for my fondness of a lot of reality TV shows. Pauline Kael once wrote, “Movies are so rarely great art, that if we cannot appreciate great trash, we have very little reason to be interested in them.” I feel the same way about television, and very often reality TV can be great trash.
Alas, so far “NYC Prep” does not rise above a level of dull trash, and for that, it cannot be forgiven.
The show owes its existence to the popularity of “Gossip Girl,” and at one point in the premiere episode two of the girls even “casually” start talking about a gossip page that’s popped up on Facebook. Subtle. It can be said that both shows exist to point out the ridiculousness of pampered teens. But “Gossip Girl” can afford to go over the top with teens who never seem to actually do any school work, spend their nights in fancy restaurants and bars, and throw party after fabulous party because it’s fiction. Show “real life” kids doing the same thing and the response may well be to slap them in the face and call the authorities to report some underage drinking.
A character like Chuck Bass works so well because, firstly, he’s being played by a charismatic actor. Also, there’s someone clever writing his dialogue, and most importantly, there’s a costume designer dressing him up in awesome clothes. P.C., the obvious “Chuck Bass” of “NYC Prep,” is probably what a real-life Chuck Bass would be like, that is to say, completely insufferable; a pretentious asshole and self-styled villain who I really hope turns out to be gay, because at least then there would be something interesting about him.
P.C.’s ex is Jessie, a dull girl with an interest in fashion and Project Smile. Kelli…Oh, forget it. I could go on describing all of them, but so far, all the brunette girls just blend into a brown-haired blob with white teeth who all seem to be hot for Sebastian, the scruffy-haired playboy. If you imagine a show like this would involve all these rich kids sitting around lounges assuming everything they say is witty and clever, but really isn’t, you’d be right on the mark. I would think the TV audience’s interest in the idle rich would have ended with the crash, but perhaps these shows continue to exist for the sole purpose of schadenfreude. I mean, the creators of “NYC Prep” can’t possibly think anyone watching would actually like these kids, could they?