If you ask anyone on the streets of Bay Ridge about Oxygen Network's upcoming Brooklyn 11223 reality show you'll get a blank stare. Nobody's heard of it. While it's been filming around Bay Ridge since last September, there have been a lot of Hollywood crews around here lately, from the TV shows Pan Am, Blue Bloods and Law & Order SVU to feature films like White Irish Drinkers and Cop Out. It was easy for it to get lost in the crowd of bigger budget productions.
But when you tell those folks what the show is about, guess what? Same blank stare. Nobody really cares, except for the politicians and community leaders that is. For them, this show is an affront to Bay Ridge and what The Sopranos was to Italian-Americans. I can't believe the backlash against it, which has even reached the pages of Huffington Post. I haven't seen outrage like this since William Friedkin's gay serial killer movie, Cruising, back in the 1980s. Local bloggers are swinging at shadows, protests have been organized by community groups, advertiser boycotts have been threatened... all of which, of course, serve only to increase the buzz for a low-budget show on a lightly-watched network. To my knowledge, nobody has actually seen the show.
Premiering on Oxygen on Monday, March 26 at 11PM ET/PT, Brooklyn 11223 is supposed be a "voyeuristic look" into the lives of a group of vapid twentysomething girls whose once rock-solid friendships have been torn apart by betrayal. From the early PR sheet, it "follows the story of two groups of girls fighting a turf war to rule Bay Ridge. Who will win is uncertain, but the stakes have never been higher." Priceless.
The promo, below, pretty much sums it up: Snooki Meets Salty Dog, which frankly doesn't over-dramatize Bay Ridge's club strip on most weekend evenings. This show can't be any more shocking than the two glue-haired, tight-skirted cumares I saw punching the crap out of each other in the middle 3rd Avenue in the pouring rain last month while their boyfriends laughed and egged them on.
I watched one of the shoots last fall while walking the dogs, back when the show was tentatively titled "Brooklyn Crew". It was a scene with one of the girls talking to some manscaped, quasi-goombah throwback from Saturday Night Fever (another Bay Ridge treasure). It looked completely scripted to me; nothing "reality" about it, not that I was surprised by that. Technically, the shoot appeared only slightly more sophisticated than an NYU film school field project, which is probably why it's escaped everybody's notice until lately. They didn't even have the PAs to stop me from walking into the middle of their shot.
There's no moral high ground with this stuff. If you don't like it, don't watch it. But I have to say that I'm a little surprised to see this kind of program on Oxygen, a network which promotes itself as empowering women, not trafficking in stereotypes.