When I was approached to write a review for Brooklyn 11223, the new reality series airing on the Oxygen channel tonight at 11, I was excited about the opportunity to give a true voice to the native Brooklynites who live in areas sitting below a 5 on the cool-o-meter that has come to represent BK. As a woman who hails from the 11223 world (Represent! Avenue X and East 2nd Street!), I find we are often regarded as gum-cracking, cawfee tawking, and generally obnoxious – and well, that kinda pisses me off. I cannot tell you how many times people ask me if I have mafia affiliations because I have a deep Brooklyn accent and because I am Italian. I’m not exaggerating here. It happens on a regular basis. That’s like asking an Irish person if they’re an alcoholic.
But I can tell you without an ounce of shame that the main cast members on Brooklyn, 11223 as well as their “crews” (This is a TV word, not a real Brooklyn word) are a fair representation of a neighborhood element, albeit a minor one. Bestest enemies Christie and Joey Lynn and their friends are a chain-smoking, beer chugging, cat-fighting, F-bomb dropping, tough-girl attitude having, extension wearing, drama-loving, fellatio providing pack of early twenties women, one trashier than the next. These caricatures ring true, but only to a point. Growing up in the area provided me with the opportunity to associate with such girls — and really — who hasn’t been kicked out of a bar by their neck in Bay Ridge once or twice in their teens or twenties? I know I have. But the producers of this show found them some hot messes. And the men that they run with? No. Just… no.
We’ve got two crews (never-going-to-get-used-to-this-word!), Joey Lynn’s and Christie’s. Once BFF4Ls, the two are now feuding because Joey Lynn may or may not have thrown Christie’s ex-boyfriend Roberto a party that may or may not have taken place in her mouth. Christie’s current way-too-cute and way-too-goo- for-her beau, Matthew, sits idly by as Christie cries and complains about this mysterious sex act which by the way may have happened another time prior to the time in question – except the prior rendezvous was not only sanctioned but also attended by Christie and one other mystery girl. Orgy over here? Holler.
Two words: WHO CARES? Aside from the groups of girls that each of the stars surround themselves with, I cannot dream of anyone truly giving a crap about who did or didn’t fellate a faceless mcguffin. Unlike, say, The Jersey Shore, there’s only one conflict so far: whether or not there was a deceitful blow job. It barely carries an episode, let alone a series. Let’s hope there’s more.
Amid my favorite eye-rolling moments of the show are when we learn that Joey Lynn’s father was murdered by way of mob-order, the numerous appearances of twiggish girls talking about knocking peoples teeth out capped by the ever eloquent quote “I am full Italian – and I’m from Brooklyn – so I have no problem f*cking somebody up.” It’s moments like those that really get on my last nerve and give 11223 and the areas around it an undeserved bad rap.
Brooklyn 11223 was inspired by a Broadway revival of West Side Story; executive producer Michael Hirschorn said he created this show to see how that story might look today. He says that viewers may find themselves surprised by the “depth and complexity” of the cast members as they deal with “loyalty, friendship, and identity.” Let me save you some time: They’re 24 years old and have no idea of what loyalty is yet. Their friendships are based on talking crap behind each other’s backs. Their identities? Mind-numbingly naive train wrecks. So in that sense, he’s right: any depth and complexity in future episodes really will be a surprise.