Monday, July 20, 2009

an NYC Prep's take on NYC Prep

I am, what I like to call, a survivor of the New York City private school system. I attended two NYC private schools for grades 1-8 and then attended a specialized public high school once my mother realized that she could afford to send me to either high school or college, but not both. (As a means of comparison, my 8th grade tuition in 1998 cost more than my freshman year at my private college.)

I haven't been watching NYC Prep this season, but have managed to see a few episodes randomly. There has been a lot of discussion regarding this show on blogs and twitter pages, so I had to check it out for myself. I was curious to see how Bravo would inflate and stretch the truth. I have previously told people that I was glad when Gossip Girl came out because there was finally a show on tv that understood my middle school experience. I have to say the same of NYC Prep. Sure, some things are exaggerated and cut out and you can see where they are staged/scripted, but unlike other shows, I do see a lot of reality in it.

When I watched the show, I was easily able to identify people in my previous schools who were like some of the characters. While the characters certainly are not representative of high school students anywhere else in the country, I think that for the NYC prep school sect, especially the Upper East Side, some of them are pretty accurate. When parents can afford to spend $28,000.00+ on tuition alone for just one child, that lots of times means the family has enough money to buy their kids whatever their heart desires. Where I went to school, it was not considered unusual for 15 year olds to shop at Barney's, Henri Bendel, and Bergdorf Goodman. Owning a vacation house (preferably in the Hamptons) was considered a necessity, not a luxury.

The casual sex and underage drinking that goes on does not surprise me either. It is really common and really does happen all the time. When I was in 7th grade, I remember two girls on my soccer team telling me how to give guys blowjobs on the schoolbus on our way to a soccer game. This is an aspect of private school life that is often swept under the rug and hushed up by administration. New York Magazine has written articles about various negative aspects of prep school life every so often, but this is the first time that it's really getting national media attention, which is what is worrying the entire NYC private school system, not just the few schools attended by characters on the show. (Several of the schools have sent letters home to parents and donors explaining that they were not notified beforehand of their students' involvement with the show, and had they been approached, would have counselled them against it.)

The only thing that I find to be blatantly fake about the show is the fact that no true, self-respecting NYC prep would actually appear on a Bravo Tv "reality" show. These kids all probably come from new money families without a large enough stake in the small world of the Upper East Side, desperate to do whatever it takes to get a higher social status, not realizing, that in the end, doing this show will actually alienate them out of the world that they try to portray and belong to.


  1. Very interesting to hear your opinion. I have only seen previews and commercials for the show, but to be honest I am nauseated by it.

    Not because I was not once a self indulgent, girly, ignorant human being LOL but because I can't seem to respect anyone on the show.

    I like your point at the end of your post. There is no way that if they were really New York Elite, would they be on a Laguna Beach spin off. Definitely not old money, because there is reputation in that.

    However, Paris Hilton definitely trashed her old money family name.
    I grew up in a small town an hour or so north of NYC, and am currently going to college in a preppy ass college in Newport RI.

    I have to say that although the education seems to be worth a lot more, the people, the situations and the lessons you learn are all the same. You just might get pushed around by a girl wearing a fake louis vuitton in my case instead of a newly released Hermes.

    I would love to hear about some of your "private school" experiences in a future post!

  2. I am irritated by that show due to the arrogance of the kids featured, they feel that they are entitled to their lifestyle even though they have done nothing to earn it.

  3. the show just makes me puke. in my mouth. i dont have a problem with wealth; but those with wealth that have class do not show their money about all the time like those kids do, really they are no cooler than any other just because they can drink alcohol with their highly priced fake id's. i truly hope that one of them gets arrested for that, all that underage drinking...

    i grew up in a wealthy town, almost as wealthy as the upper east side, and the same things went on; the sex and underage drinking, but we NEVER bandied it about, thats what makes me so angry.

  4. I loved hearing your opinion, one that actual can some-what relate to that type of lifestyle. I still dislike the show, and not because of their wealth, but I believe that if you are lucky to have a very comfortable lifestyle, that you should not flaunt it. It's declasse and I agree, that being on TV, was the biggest mistake of their choices.

  5. I havn't watched the show exactly because raitings would only encourage these misguided families into signing on for another season and I find it abhorrent to put behavior like this on television in a 'reality' scenario. (I feel similarly about MTV's '16 and pregnant' - good job MTV. Let's glamorize 15 year olds making bad choices for themselves).

    Anyway, I think you it hit it SPOT on - the nouveau riche and their bad decisions. So ridiculous. You don't even have to come from any wealth to see right through to the issue. It is the same issue in the 'Real Housewives' line, anything shot in Southern California, and basically anything produced from MTV studios.

    Its frankly embarrassing to anyone with any sense. Whats worse is there are good kids out there watching this bull$^*# and feeling awkward because they aren't having similar experiences.

    Sometimes I really hate TV.

  6. Agreed! No one (including every NYC student) from my boarding school would EVER have gone on such a show!

  7. Thanks for your inside opinion. I too believe that no stakeholder on the UES would allow their child to participate in such a farce.

  8. I am glad you put your opinion out there. It is interesting, and I totally agree with the last paragraph!!

  9. Great post-
    Never seen the show or really heard of it! I am so outta the TV loop.

    I had to LOL at your comment about the 7th grade and BJ comment!! {but now my dd is going into the 7th grade and that scares me, lol} ugh

  10. We have quite a few friends who come from the prep-school scene (in NYC and from Deerfield), and most of the people we know (and their friends) aren't quite as arrogant as the kids on the show, but yes, they do come from money and the drinking/sex/partying is all pretty accurate.

    Rumor has it, the kids on this show aren't from and of the "good" prep schools though, which could be why they are on a show like this...

  11. I also attended a prep school (albeit not in NYC) but found a good deal of it overlapped. The partying and drinking are some of the things I think the show does not exaggerate. Everyone has fake ID's and when you have two or three houses finding a place to throw a house party is really quite simple.