Where to even start when trying to wrap up the over-the-top, offensive-to-many, hilarious-to-some, scandal-inducing series that was Princesses: Long Island? It was certainly one crazy ride. I must admit that at first I wasn’t planning to actually watch this one. Following Bravo being my job, I already watch a LOT of TV. I thought with Princesses it was pretty obvious what the show as going to be about: a bunch of spoiled Jewish girls on Long Island fighting with each other…a lot. Well, turns out I was correct but, also turned out…I couldn’t help but watch it unfold! After the first episode aired, the hype was just too much and I had to know what everyone was so up in arms about. So first, let me recap the several scandals that ensued over this little Bravo project:
1) The Jewish American Princess stereotype scandal. This one was just basically about the overall offensiveness of the show’s premise. Not that this was the first ethnically focused series on television (Breaking Amish, Sister Wives, even Jersey Shore, etc. came first) but it might be the first that openly centered around a generally negative stereotype. To be called a Jewish American Princess (JAP as it’s pejoratively abbreviated) is typically an insult, even potentially a racial slur. From my personal perspective, growing up as a girl with one Jewish parent, I was always taught that it meant someone who was spoiled, rude, condescending, and prissy. And, well, I guess these girls are happy to be thought of as those things? At least we know Ashlee is–she went so far as to SAY SO in the first episode: “I’m Jewish, I’m American, and I’m a princess”. We certainly saw her live up to all of the above adjectives throughout the season. Fellow princess Chanel talked about the fact that they all are approaching 30 and living at home describing it as “definitely a Jewish thing, and it’s kind of a Long Island thing.” Many Jewish people and Long Islanders found this to be not only offensive but totally inaccurate.
2) Freeport, Long Island, called “the ghetto”. Also in the first episode, (she was on a role) Ashlee referred to the town of Freeport, on the South Shore of Long Island, as “the ghetto”. Only one of the girls, Joey, is from the South Shore. A frequent storyline is that Joey’s family doesn’t have the same kind of money as the rest of the girls and, eventually, Ashlee decides Joey is a “bad person” and they have a huge feud. The
now-infamous “ghetto” comment occurred as Ashlee was talking to her father (as per usual) on the phone while driving to Joey’s home. He advised her to roll up the windows. She later apologized for her comment but not before the town of Freeport organized a boycott of the show.
3) Two local teachers will likely lose their jobs after their portrayal on the show. The first, Stefan Serie, flashed his abs and laughed in the background of a scene in the premiere episode. Later, the 30-year-old middle school health teacher claims he was coerced into resigning from his $75,000/year job–and now he wants it back. It seems that he was a pretty popular teacher and his students and their parents are siding with him. The other teacher to likely lose her job after appearing on the show is Sara Schapiro, a 32-year-old first-grade teacher who hurled a series of insults including a gay slur. Still in the premiere episode, Sara got into an alcohol-induced argument and called cast-member Jeff a “F*****”. And what’s more? She doesn’t regret her behavior! She said “Nope! I was on TV. I don’t care, I had a good time.” As a result, she says she’ll likely resign from her $66,000/year job. Hmmm…5 minutes of screen time where you look like a total loser vs. a good paying job where you get to help kids and she has no regrets? To her school I say: good riddance!
4) The Drink Hanky photo shoot that disrespected a fallen 9/11 firefighter. And finally, probably the biggest scandal was the photo shoot heard round the world. One of the Princesses, Amanda Bertonicini, staged a photo shoot for her high-fashion drink holders, the Drink Hanky, in which a model poses with a statue of a firefighter. The model was encouraged by Amanda to kiss the statue and put her beer up to his mouth. Eeesh. Turned out, this was just any statue, though. This was a memorial statue of local firefighter Jonathon Ielpi who died responding on 9/11. Eeeeeeesh. Lee Ielpi, the fallen firefighter’s father, said that “it was a slap to all of the people that were lost on 9/11.” Bravo has since agreed to remove all footage of this scene from future airings of the show and Amanda apologized/plugged her product saying “I never meant to hurt or offend anyone when I was doing my photo shoot for the Drink Hanky.”
Phew! That was a lot of scandal for one little show! I didn’t even get into the actual princess-on-princess drama that went down. With all this baggage from season 1, what do you think the chances are we’ll see a second season out of these ladies? Bravo has been mum on the subject, which usually is not a good sign. The network is typically quick to capitalize on the post-season-finale buzz and announces they’ve green-lit a second season. It doesn’t even look like we’re going to see a reunion show for this one. I think we may have seen the last of these princesses. How did you feel about this show and would you like to see more?
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