The television network Oxygen has created a reality TV show based in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, that real residents of that neighborhood say is anything but reality.
The show is called “Brooklyn 11223” and is a nod to the popular, dumbed-down MTV hit “Jersey Shore” which portrays people of certain ethnic groups in stereotypically uncomplimentary ways. Angry Bay Ridge residents are afraid “Brooklyn 11223” will be the same sort of trash that makes them look ridiculous.
“They’re crass, crude and cartoonish about Bay Ridge, and they couldn’t be more wrong about Bay Ridge women” said City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Brooklyn). “It shows women who act and speak as if they were in the era of ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ ”
Gentile is so concerned with the way the new show portrays women, especially that this show will create a Brooklyn version of Jersey Shore’s Snooki, that he organized a rally to protest the airing of the show.
“This is not what Bay Ridge is about and this not what Bay Ridge wants or needs” Gentile said at the rally. “We refuse to stand by and let Hollywood portray . . . Bay Ridge in this disparaging light.”
Gentile is not alone among Brooklyn politicians ready to denounce the show. State Senator Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn) urged local businesses such as restaurants and nightclubs to brush-off the program which she is afraid will feature similar misrepresentations of young Italian-Americans, portraying them engaging in various types of drunken, foolhardy behavior.
“People in Nebraska and Indiana will watch this, and the image across the country will be that Italian-American women fight over men and desecrate themselves” she said.
“This is not the Jersey Shore, this is Brooklyn; we fight back!”
About 30 local women in their thirties joined Savino and Gentile to voice their outrage over the premise of the show and the fear of how their neighbors and themselves will be presented. Residents are additionally annoyed at the creators of the show for not even getting the zip code for Bay Ridge correct. The zip code in the name “Brooklyn 11223” is the zip for Gravesend. Bay Ridge’s zip is 11209.
“I feel that this show misrepresents Bay Ridge” said Bina Valenzano, co-owner of BookMark Shoppe. “They’re representing the bars and the clubs, but I guess the community groups and the bookstore wouldn’t hold enough drama for them.”
“If the producers can’t even get the zip code right, it seems reasonable that they won’t be able to portray real people with any accuracy either.”
The Oxygen network responded to the criticism by saying that, “Viewers can decide for themselves” when the show first airs on March 26. “We meet this authentic group of friends set against the vibrant backdrop of the great and diverse borough of Brooklyn” the network added.