When Ashlee White says “if I can’t wear stilettos, I can’t go,” television
viewers may have already dismissed the new Bravo series Princesses of Long
Island as just another Real Housewives reality show.
But the difference
between these six princesses and other reality royalty is in their birthright –
The show, which began last week in the States, follows
the girls as they sunbathe, shop and search for men to “put a ring on it.”
Meanwhile, they will not leave the Manischevitzcoated walls of their penthouses
until marriage, living at home while their parents care for them. They are
Chanel Omaro, the token Orthodox Jew, says this failure to
launch is “a Jewish thing, and it’s kind of a Long Island thing.”
it’s a thing that happens when you name your daughter after a
Regardless, Israeli viewers might be enraged at the claim that
this immaturity is inherently Jewish – their mandatory IDF service contrasting
sharply with the life of privilege displayed on screen. But, while many American
reality television audiences are used to wine throwing and weave pulling, many
might not be used to it occurring at a Shabbat table.
But cancel the
cries of anti-Semitism for now; the show is really just a bevy of
The scattered references to Judaism are sorely misplaced.
Chanel explains that as a modern Orthodox woman, it is normal for her to live at
home until marriage. However, this may easily be confused with the belief that
the normal Orthodox woman does nothing but try on bikinis and schedule
pedicures. Later, Chanel happily chomps on an unkosher hot dog without reading
The show is perhaps most damaging to Jewish American
parents, who are portrayed as millionaires that only want their daughters to get
into prestigious American universities so they can meet wealthy lawyers and Wall
This lack of independence is what separates these girls
from their reality-housewife predecessors.
Despite an almost matching
appetite for materialism, the other housewives always (or sometimes) took pride
in their entrepreneurial skills.
Real Housewives of New York City star
Bethenny Frankel was just about penniless when the show began. She used her TV
exposure to launch a low calorie, ready-to-drink cocktail line that exploded
into a major life-style liquor line, reality spin-off shows and her own day time
talk show. Other housewives used their celebrity to launch singing careers
(maybe not so successful), skincare products, cookbooks, or promoted their own
While the housewives all have in common that, at one
point or another, they married rich, they run the gamut of ethnicities from
Italian- American, Africa-American, or Anglo-Saxon Protestant.
the all Jewish showing on Princesses, the message to parents can transcend all
ethnicities – if you keep them rich, they’ll less likely want to search for
their rich husband (I never said it was a positive message).
scene, the petite four-foot-nine White is unable to put her stilettos on after a
The solution involves her father schlepping her chair to the
door and the salon owner carrying her to the car. Later, White contemplates
marriage and asks, “why would I ever want to leave?” Viewers would have
difficulty finding the answer.