NYC Prep Pilot: Gossip Girl Live


Bravo’s new “unscripted” rip-off of Gossip Girl, NYC Prep began last night with a bang. We were introduced to an array of sophomores, juniors, and seniors (freshmen? Hells no!) from various unnamed private schools on the Upper East Side. Not that any of these kids go to school–the filming of this first episode seems to have taken place during winter break, and just like on the show’s scripted doppelganger, most of the action takes place at social events, not in gym class. Lots of rich kids float in and out of each shot while texting frantically under the pink-and-red lights in NYC nightclubs, but the stars are: Kelli, a gorgeous 16-year-old aspiring singer who lives sans parents on the UES; her less-pretty but way smarter friend Camille; PC, an arrogant, hunky, and somewhat astute senior; his mannish, fashion-obsessed best friend and on-again-off-again love Jessie; long-haired 16-year-old playboy Sebastian; and a quiet social climber from the Upper West Side, Taylor.

PC and Jessie start the thing off with a heart-to-heart about getting their parents to bribe their ways into college. But Jessie thinks she has something going for her on her applications: her philanthropy. Of all the organizations helping all the diseases in the world, the one Jessie works with provides reconstructive surgery to children with fucked-up faces. PC points that out in a not-so-PC way, and then I’m pretty sure takes a swig of beer. Hello, illegal!

Next we get a glimpse into gorgeous Kelli’s life, and some life it is. She grew up on the Hamptons but then decided to move to the city where she could better pursue her music career. The junior lives with her older brother, and their parents visit one night a week. They stop by long enough to have Chinese food and then take off, back to the comforts of Long Island.

Kelli has a thing for Sebastian, who is the player and spends the entire show discussing his dating life with the world weariness of…wait for it…Chuck Bass. He figures he’ll wait till he’s finished partying to settle down and get a girlfriend, when he’s around, say, 25.
Camille is Blair Waldorf through and through, except for being obsessed with getting into Harvard (Blair wouldn’t be caught dead there). Being “the smart one” as opposed to “the hot one” in crowd, she’s a little more outsiderish and makes frequent observations about group dynamics or the realities of UES life. “My family is wealthy but we’re not multibillionaires,” she clears up.

But Taylor’s the real outsider. She’s from the Upper West Side, and her nosy mom even has a local accent. With that kind of pedigree, Taylor recognizes the need to get on the good side of the true prep schoolers stat. She throws a party–but, uhoh!–has the audacity to invite some kids who go to public school. Kelli has enough of the whole soiree when Taylor hits it off with Sebastian right in front of her!

Jessie meanwhile finds some dresses at Barney’s that fit her boxy frame with the help of a salesgirl who insists on adding sparkle to every outfit, which only makes Jessie look more like a drag queen. Jessie tells the Barney’s staff that she hates Gossip Girl because it is to her life what Sex and the City was to ours in the Village–always parking their trailers on our blocks when we’re just trying to get to work, and ruining perfectly good bakeries with the onslaught of tourists the week after the episode airs. Jessie, we hear you. Bendels must be just overrun with Brooklynites these days.

Jessie’s equally tranny friend Zoe confesses, “I wear clothes that cost less than $20 sometimes.” She finds them at a vintage shop in Southampton. “You’re so Downtown,” Jessie replies. She then meets PC and brings him to some “art and fashion” party at Mina, which I think is that fabulous discount designer boutique next to the Voice where we look at shoes on lunch breaks. Anyway, Kelli and Camille show up even though they don’t know PC or Jessie (how did they hear about the party, on this “unscripted” show?), and Jessie flips when PC pays them some attention. I mean, they are having a pretty intimate conversation: “What Hamptons do you have a house in?”

Apparently PC really thinks Kelli is hot, because he asks her out on a date. Kelli brings Camille along which rubs him the wrong way, and the borderline charming PC becomes a total ass. “I’m a senior, they’re juniors. They still have a lot to learn.” It’s clear he really belongs with Jessie, who is the only girl man enough to deal with him. He meets her for a drink, but then throws a bottle of water at her and she storms out. “I can’t even look at you!” They make up via mobile phone while PC roams under the blinking Christmas lights on Columbus Circle.

Preview for the season: Virginities are revealed! Someone dies! Jessie feels remorse about being rich! Stay tuned!