Millennials and Bravo’s Princesses: Long Island
3:27 pm, July 26th | by Grace Rasmus
I took my first ever sick-leave from work the other day. I don’t know what I was expecting — perhaps something like this? — but it wasn’t fun at all. First of all, I was sick and even a benign illness is lame. Secondly, I still had to work; thanks to stupid technology like WiFi and laptops, I can write from anywhere. Thus, I can never escape my deadlines, no matter how much my tummy hurts.
Once I was done with all of my work, I faced a quintessential Millennial dilemma: my Kindle was dead and its charger was nowhere to be found, my social media feeds were boring, and there was absolutely nothing on TV. As I lay on the couch in a lazy haze, I decided to watch the several episodes of Princesses: Long Island that were mysteriously queued up on my parents’ TiVo. (I’m onto you, Mom.)
Princesses revolves around the lives of six born and bred Long Island ladies who are self-proclaimed “Jewish American Princesses.” The women are 27- to 30-years-old and single, which is the predominant (if unofficial) theme of the show. Oh, and here’s the kicker: for one reason or another, they’re all still living in the upper-middle-class comforts of their parents’ homes.
As an unmarried woman who lives with her parents in a predominately Jewish town, I definitely fit the Princess bill more than I’d like to admit. However, there are some notable exceptions: I’m only 20, so no one is concerned about my lack of husband; I only live at home when I’m not at school; and I’m not Jewish.
There is a lot of great commentary on how Judaism (and Long Island) is portrayed on the show, from bizarre misconceptions (cast member Chanel Omari claimed that “living with your parents until you’re married is totally a Jewish thing, and kind of a Long Island thing,” to which Jessica Grose at Slate responded: “As a Jewish woman who grew up in the New York area, I thought that was a ‘thing’ that died with the sexual revolution.”), to the scripted use of Yiddish (“The way they yell ‘Shalom’ in greeting, repeatedly misuse the word ‘verklempt,’ and play up their Jewishness for the camera is pretty revolting,” writes a blogger on Jewcy), to the over-exaggeration of their “Jewish-ness”. (Cast member Ashley White, who shouts “ARE YOU JEWISH!?” at potential dance partners in every single night club scene, admits she’s “not really that Jewish” in a later episode).
Religion aside, I think Princesses: Long Island reflects poorly on a broader, oft-targeted community: Millennials. In Bravo’s notable Real Housewives franchise, the women often pride themselves on their entrepreneurship; many of the Housewives don’t need to launch makeup lines, yoga studios, or alcohol brands, but they do it anyway. On Princesses, I think two of the girls have jobs (Amanda has “The Drink Hanky”, Joey has Kissamint), while the rest just live off their parents with seemingly no desire to work.
It’s no secret that a majority of college grads are retreating back to their parents’ homes, usually just for a year or two (or at least that’s what we tell ourselves), until they can find a job or save up enough money to support themselves. The girls on the show have mixed feelings on living at home: Erica loves living with her parents, Amanda wants to move in with her boyfriend but her mom doesn’t want her to leave, Chanel (a modern Orthodox Jew) is incredibly distraught over the fact that her younger sister got married and moved out first, Joey is trying to extend the deadline her dad gave her to move out and Ashley can’t imagine moving out until she’s met a man as great as her BFF father to move in with. The Princesses‘ confessionals are reminiscent of video diaries; all of interviews happen in front of their girly bedrooms. It’s almost as if they are on video chatting with an unnamed friend — it’s hard to get more millennial than that.
Even though I’m only 20 and it’s not strange for me to live at home when I’m not in school, I don’t want to end up anything like these girls. I don’t like my living situation; even staying home for just one sick day was a bit much. I can’t even imagine being living with my parents until a man comes along to sweep me off my feet sometime (fingers crossed!) in the next ten years. I love my parents death and they’ve selflessly provided an amazing life for me, but I’m itching to get out there and start my own. I think most other millennials are, too.