You know how, when you’re healthy, you sometimes think, “Oh, if only I could stay home today and lie on the couch and watch TV ALL DAY. Or read ALL DAY. And eat whatever I want. And ignore the world?” And then, as soon as you’re sick and actually lying on the couch, watching TV and reading back issues of The New Yorker ALL DAY, you feel horrible, miserable and don’t enjoy it at all? Yeah, what’s that all about? I know life isn’t fair but, come on, throw me a wishbone here.
So, yeah, been sick. Whoopee!!
What it entailed was a lot of coughing, gasping for air, tension headaches, sleeplessness, eating chocolate chips from a bowl while watching TV and periods of restless “clean up” around the house. The cleaning up was me thinking, “Oh, what’s a little illness? I can still dust, vacuum and do laundry… Uh, I don’t feel so hot… all that dusting made me feel… faint…” So then I gave up on productive activities and decided to read books. Catch up on some reading, see? Keep the brain working. Learn stuff. But then that became too hard. “What did I just read? What… Eat cookie? What was that last sentence? What if I don’t really have a cold but instead I have cancer?”
So then I moved on to TV. In the space of one morning’s worth of “news,” I saw the woman who had her hands and face eaten off by a chimp, a mother whose daughter was abducted last month and later turned up in a landfill, something about a little girl who died of cancer but left her family notes to find after she died… Needless to say, while huddled on the couch underneath an old comforter, gasping for air, it’s not the best time to be slapped in the face with the cold, hard facts of life. So I did what I needed to do… I switched to reality TV.
Actually, back issues of reality TV. If there are snobs in the world who say that there is no place for reality TV, they are wrong. When you’re sick, you need some reality TV, not NPR, The New Yorker or fucking Al Roker. God, what is up with that guy?? He has to have some evil secret…
I found the perfect “I’m Sick” series to watch: NYC Prep. I can’t tell you how many hours of enjoyment this show brought me. I fancy “studying” the psychology of incredibly insecure people who do everything within their power to pretend they are anything BUT insecure and this show gave me plenty to work with. I sat there in front of my laptop with my mouth hanging open. Yeah, these are high school kids with the social lives of 30 year olds. They are high school kids who are actually concerned about networking. I found myself in a battle between gleeful voyeurism and absolute sadness.
Of course, as usual, the “situations” on the show are completely fabricated. They had the kids meeting up on windy streets to have conversations they could have had on their cell phones or probably never would have had at all if not for the show. “Hey, I know, let’s go stand on this street corner in the bitter wind and discuss if PC cares about your feelings (he doesn’t) or whether or not you and I are acquaintances, friends or lovers.”Â But that’s what we’re dealing with here: high schoolers who wouldn’t think it odd to refer to someone their own age as their lover. PC (I’ll get to him in more detail in a moment) actually said, to a friend he was visiting in Mexico, “Every time I tell someone I’m going to Mexico to visit my friend they give me a weird look but I tell them that you’re a tall Mexican. That you’re a beautiful Mexican.” A beautiful Mexican. I… am… speechless. What high school boy calls his male friend a “beautiful Mexican?” I mean, sure, it could be how he views his friend but why does he need to clarify to everyone that his Mexican friend is beautiful? “Don’t worry, I’m not hanging out with some dumpy, unexceptional Mexican. My Mexican friend is tall and beautiful…”
Every “character” on the show is enjoyable. There’s Jessie, the 18-year-old wannabe fashion executive who is struggling with one of life’s biggest questions: to go into PR or marketing?; PC, the bi-sexual (although, come on, gay), angst-ridden, hypocritical bundle of nerves and regret with a penchant for suit jackets and eyeliner; Kelli, the diminutive singer trying to get her “career” on track (her voice coach suggests that her stage name be “Kelli!”); Camille, the junior who only wants to go to Harvard, be something like an “executive at a bio-engineering firm” and have her kids at 40 (that’s what she tells her mother during brunch, although I also saw an update online saying she leftÂ or was kicked out of her prestigious school to go to Professional Children’s School, which is geared towards actors/performers) ; and Taylor, a dance-and-gymnastics obsessed 15-year-old who doesn’t even go to a prep school but tries to move in prep social circles. Her inclusion implies that the producers had a hard time casting the show. I mean, prep school kids are a lot of things but most of them are smart enough to know, or have parents who will tell them, that a reality show might not be the best way to introduce yourself to the world or move ahead in any circle – be it social or business – particularly if wealthy, powerful people are involved.
Oh, I forgot, there is also Sebastian, a guy whose sexual attractiveness lies in his hair (I couldn’t even count the number of times girls asked him if he surfs) and his ability to speak French fluently. If he happens to meet his match in the French department, he actually flounders, doesn’t know what to do and loses interest. Which was kind of endearing. I mean, he comes out and admits that he uses his French to hook up. He also comes out and admits that he doesn’t see the point of having a girlfriend when he could be hooking up with lots of girls. Steady relationships are for when you’re older and all partied out. Like, 25 years old. I found this admission to be refreshing and immediately started rooting for him in any situation. Like when he threw a “fundraiser” for digging wells in Africa that was really a way to meet girls.
I enjoyed Sebastian the most because he had a sense of humor and the ability to have fun, unlike the rest of the kids. Wow, I thought I’d worked with some uptight assholes in my days but these kids put many of those people to shame. I’m sure it’s the environment in which they were raised but it’s still sad to see. They’re running charity events, worrying about their resumes, interning, throwing dinner parties, crafting their images… it’s kind of like, what’s left to do with the other 59 years of your life? It seemed as if they would soon be staring into black holes of nothingness and absolute boredom. If, at 18, there’s really nothing new left to experience (besides being an authentic person)… what’s the fucking point? PC, the aforementioned angst-ridden teen, even had a $500-an-hour therapist. He sat there and spewed bullshit with her several times, saying he was sick of his scene, that he’d done the prep school drinking/drugging/casual sex thing… and then promptly got into more drinking/drugging/casual sexing with an older crowd. See, that’s progress!
Throughout the nine, ten or maybe 15 episodes of NYC, there are many riveting plot lines. Will Jessie maintain her role as PC’s appointed babysitter/jealous ex-girlfriend or relinquish control? Will PC… do anything of consequence, ever? Will Camille ever find a charity to volunteer for (it takes her the entire season to finally speak to the staff of Operation Smile and then she only complains that Jessie has been stonewalling her, preventing her from doing good works and pumping up her Harvard application). Will Kelli find the right “image” for her singing career? Will Sebastian get moreÂ girls? Will Taylor dump Cole again and fin her way in the prep scene (at one point PC self-appoints himself Taylor’s “life coach” in order to help her navigate the dangerous shallows of prep social life but she fails to show for a party he gives in a hotel suite and he drops her like she’s hot).
This last plot line seems entirely manufactured by desperate producers. “Come on, PC, how about if you pull your weight and create some drama for us? Act like you care about this public school sophomore.” In order to cover up the fact that the entire situation is just plain weird, PC justifies his interest in Taylor by making comments to the camera like, “It seems like there’s not much to her but then she’ll make a comment and she seems as if she could be… interesting.” This comment was based off of the fact that at a dinner party, Taylor said she wanted to train elephants when she grew up. To her credit, she said it in such a way that one couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic or was genuinely naive enough to think it was her destiny to train elephants. Then again, this is the same girl who said she’s always thought she should marry for money, which as why, at 15, she was considering dating Sebastian (who is a wealthy prep school kid) and not Cole (public school kid). What I could see Taylor doing, if it was 1932, is joining the Ziegfeld Follies as a dancer, working her way up through the ranks of Broadway and then moving to Hollywood and becoming a superstar.
So I admit I made it all the way through the season in the course of two days and was left wondering if there will be another season. I mean, will Camille get to be part of Operation Smile now that Jessie is in college and not there to control who gets to volunteer? For that matter, will Camille get into Harvard now that she’s at that Fame school? What’s Sebastian going to do with his hair? Is Kelli going to make a demo or not? Will she be signed? Will Taylor ever train those elephants???Â I even went to Bravo’s site and voted for my favorite NYC Prep pair (PC and Jessie, ‘natch, who are running away with the competition with 58% of the votes. We all love and understand co-dependency).
OK, maybe it is time to get back to work.
Oh, PC, lighten up and have a Twinkie!