In my experience, the terms “reality show” and “authenticity” might as well be antonyms. Which is why it’s kind of funny that the opening line of MTV‘s new trailer for forthcoming reality show Washington Heights seems designed to get viewers to associate the show with the “realness” of El Barrio:
“People call Washington Heights one of the last true neighborhoods in New York City.”
With the ghost of the Jersey Shore still haunting the nation, it is tempting to be cynical about MTV’s claims that this show will be “an honest, intimate and entertaining look inside the lives, spirit and hustle of a unique group of individuals as they strive to pursue their passions.” [emphasis mine]. But who knows, maybe MTV will bring it back to their Real World roots (the pre-Vegas cast) when reality TV actually connected with young audiences in a meaningful way.
Too soon to tell.
Here’s what we do know (based on the Washington Heights press release and my personal first impressions):
JP, a.k.a. Audubon, dreams of making it big in hip hop – while living at home with his mom.
Reyna is an aspiring singer described as “the fiery diva of the group.” Is Reyna the one slapping people in the streets at 1:06?? Tell me she isn’t. I’m going to be upset if the one overt latina of the trailer is the one getting her hair snatched on the sidewalk.
Frankie is small, but has a “big personality” and “boy crazy tendencies.” Is she the new Snookie? Apparently she hopes to become an English professor sooooo probably not. Anyway, she’s in love with Ludwin. I would hazard a guess that Ludwin is Dominican, because come on, that name. Tragically, Ludwin is not sure he can reciprocate Frankie’s feelings because he dreams of a career as an artist. This is like a 19th century melodrama. Washington Heights – more like Wuthering Heights AMIRITE?
Jimmy wants a professional career in baseball, but his father is finishing a seven-year stint in prison. Meanwhile his friends aren’t feeling his GF Eliza, because she’s an outsider – from New Jersey. I can only hope this is laying the groundwork for a Washington Heights – Jersey Shore crossover feud, a la Real World-Road Rules Challenge.
Rico also lives at home with his mom and can’t decide if he wants to be a model or an actor. Tough call, Rico. I will say though, that if this show is capturing anything “real” so far (based on limited early information), it’s the fact that latinos live with their parents. WELL into adulthood. And you know what? I probably would too if mine were in NYC.
Fred, older brother of Rico, is hustling to make it in the fashion industry. Lots of right-brains in on this show. I guess an aspiring young financier just isn’t that sexy anymore.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the token white girl Taylor. According to MTV’s release, Taylor “may look all-American…but she’s Heights to the core.” Oh, okay.