Streams

Brighton Beach Leaders Want Lifetime to Pull the Plug on 'Russian Dolls'

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Diana Kosov stars in Lifetime's 'Russian Dolls.' Diana Kosov stars in Lifetime's "Russian Dolls." (Giovanni Rufino © 2011Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, All Rights Reserved.)

Leaders from New York's Russian-speaking community are calling on Lifetime to pull the plug on its new reality television series “Russian Dolls,” due to what they think is a stereotypical portrayal of life in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach community.

Leaders from the Russian-speaking community in New York spoke out against the upcoming Lifetime reality series “Russian Dolls,” a Jersey Shore-style treatment of life in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, following the appearance last week of a promo video for the show.

 

"Russian Dolls" will premier nationally on Lifetime starting August 11. The producers have avoided making comparisons to The Jersey Shore in their press materials, calling the show "a look at Brighton Beach's multi-generational families whose dramas and dreams contend with their Russian heritage." Yet in the video released this week, the dominant themes on display are clubbing, young women in lingerie, brawls, and, of course, plentiful shots of vodka.

 

Some members of the Brighton Beach community are worried about the fallout.

 

"The entire point of this show is to ridicule our community – to make us look like stupid, sex-crazed partiers," says Ari Kagan, a journalist, former political candidate, and community activist who hosts his own television show on the Russian Television Network of America. "Sure, we have our bad apples but we are mostly decent, hard-working, educated people. Why don't they do a show about the many Russian women who are studying hard in college to be doctors?"

 

Kagan was one of 41 prominent Brighton Beach residents who signed a letter of petition to Lifetime TV last year asking the network to pull the show. In response, they were assured by Senior Vice President Gena McCarthy that Lifetime wasn't making the "Russian Jersey Shore."  

 

However, as Kagan points out, there is ample evidence to the contrary. Last year, casting call flyers circulated around the neighborhood reading, "Are you the Russian Snooki or The Situation? Can people hear the Euro/Techno/Russian music blasting from your car before they see you pull up?"

 

Brighton Beach, which straddles Coney Island on the Southern end of Brooklyn, is home to many Russian-speaking immigrants from around the former Soviet Union. Sitting under the rumbling Q train tracks, Brighton Beach Avenue is lined with hundreds of small businesses advertising in Cyrillic script. According to Kagan, "Russian Dolls" producers have shot much of their footage in neighborhood's lavish catering halls and nightclubs, such as Rasputin, on Avenue X.

 

"I'm disappointed," says State Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasni, who represents Brighton Beach. Brook-Krasni saw the trailer earlier this week. "I certainly hope that one day the coverage for the Russian-speaking community will be more positive. The Russian community is arguably one of the most educated and successful immigrant groups. There's a lot of positive things to say."

 

Some Russian-Americans, however, say the trailer seems to be hitting the mark. "These are characters of the community I grew up in, but they aren't that far from the truth," said Elina Galperin, a Ph.D candidate in Central Asian history. Galperin emigrated from Belarus as a young child and spent her adolescence in nearby Bensonhurst.

 

"Those characters are what made me want to do whatever I could to find different values to live by and a different life entirely to have. But now that I'm older, I can appreciate the stereotype and laugh about it," said Galperin.

 

Members of the Russian community will recognize the mores of characters depicted in the "Russian Dolls" as those of "Novyi Russkiy," or "New Russians." The term is used to refer to newly wealthy Russians who rose up after the fall of the Soviet Union on both sides of the Atlantic and often lampooned for their conspicuous consumption habits.

 

Novelist and frequent New York magazine contributor Michael Idov says he suspects the show is not actually about ethnicity, but about class.

 

"We've been giggling at the nouveau riche since Moliere, and the invention of trance music and Armani Exchange just made th

Leaders from the Russian-speaking community in New York spoke out against the upcoming Lifetime reality series “Russian Dolls,” a Jersey Shore-style treatment of life in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, following the appearance last week of a promo video for the show.

 

"Russian Dolls" will premier nationally on Lifetime starting August 11. The producers have avoided making comparisons to The Jersey Shore in their press materials, calling the show "a look at Brighton Beach's multi-generational families whose dramas and dreams contend with their Russian heritage." Yet in the video released this week, the dominant themes on display are clubbing, young women in lingerie, brawls, and, of course, plentiful shots of vodka.

 

Some members of the Brighton Beach community are worried about the fallout.

 

"The entire point of this show is to ridicule our community – to make us look like stupid, sex-crazed partiers," says Ari Kagan, a journalist, former political candidate, and community activist who hosts his own television show on the Russian Television Network of America. "Sure, we have our bad apples but we are mostly decent, hard-working, educated people. Why don't they do a show about the many Russian women who are studying hard in college to be doctors?"

 

Kagan was one of 41 prominent Brighton Beach residents who signed a letter of petition to Lifetime TV last year asking the network to pull the show. In response, they were assured by Senior Vice President Gena McCarthy that Lifetime wasn't making the "Russian Jersey Shore."  

 

However, as Kagan points out, there is ample evidence to the contrary. Last year, casting call flyers circulated around the neighborhood reading, "Are you the Russian Snooki or The Situation? Can people hear the Euro/Techno/Russian music blasting from your car before they see you pull up?"

 

Brighton Beach, which straddles Coney Island on the Southern end of Brooklyn, is home to many Russian-speaking immigrants from around the former Soviet Union. Sitting under the rumbling Q train tracks, Brighton Beach Avenue is lined with hundreds of small businesses advertising in Cyrillic script. According to Kagan, "Russian Dolls" producers have shot much of their footage in neighborhood's lavish catering halls and nightclubs, such as Rasputin, on Avenue X.

 

"I'm disappointed," says State Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasni, who represents Brighton Beach. Brook-Krasni saw the trailer earlier this week. "I certainly hope that one day the coverage for the Russian-speaking community will be more positive. The Russian community is arguably one of the most educated and successful immigrant groups. There's a lot of positive things to say."

 

Some Russian-Americans, however, say the trailer seems to be hitting the mark. "These are characters of the community I grew up in, but they aren't that far from the truth," said Elina Galperin, a Ph.D candidate in Central Asian history. Galperin emigrated from Belarus as a young child and spent her adolescence in nearby Bensonhurst.

 

"Those characters are what made me want to do whatever I could to find different values to live by and a different life entirely to have. But now that I'm older, I can appreciate the stereotype and laugh about it," said Galperin.

 

Members of the Russian community will recognize the mores of characters depicted in the "Russian Dolls" as those of "Novyi Russkiy," or "New Russians." The term is used to refer to newly wealthy Russians who rose up after the fall of the Soviet Union on both sides of the Atlantic and often lampooned for their conspicuous consumption habits.

 

Novelist and frequent New York magazine contributor Michael Idov says he suspects the show is not actually about ethnicity, but about class.

 

"We've been giggling at the nouveau riche since Moliere, and the invention of trance music and Armani Exchange just made things that much easier," said Idov. "Still, what I find interesting here is that the producers of the show, one of whom I've met, are of Brighton Beach stock themselves. In other words, what we have on our hands is a couple of assimilated Russian-Americans breaking into show business by exploiting the image of the unassimilated Russian-American. And that's the definition of minstrelsy."

 

The show's producers had not returned calls for comment at press time.

ings that much easier," said Idov. "Still, what I find interesting here is that the producers of the show, one of whom I've met, are of Brighton Beach stock themselves. In other words, what we have on our hands is a couple of assimilated Russian-Americans breaking into show business by exploiting the image of the unassimilated Russian-American. And that's the definition of minstrelsy."

 

The show's producers had not returned calls for comment at press time.

"The entire point of this show is to ridicule our community — to make us look like stupid, sex-crazed partiers," said Ari Kagan, a journalist and neighborhood activist who hosts a TV show on the Russian Television Network of America. Kagan also serves as Comptroller John Liu's liaison to the Russian-speaking community, but clarified that he was not speaking out against "Russian Dolls" in an official capacity. "Sure, we have our bad apples but we are mostly decent, hard-working, educated people. Why don't they do a show about the many Russian women who are studying hard in college to be doctors?"

The producers of "Russian Dolls," which will premier nationally on Lifetime on August 11, called the show "a look at Brighton Beach's multi-generational families whose dramas and dreams contend with their Russian heritage" in their promotional materials. But in the preview video for the series released this week, the dominant themes appear to be clubbing, young women clad in lingerie, brawls, and plentiful shots of vodka.

Kagan was one of 41 prominent Brighton Beach residents who signed onto a letter to Lifetime last year asking the network to pull the show. He said Lifetime's Senior Vice President Gena McCarthy responded, saying that Lifetime would not be making a "Russian Jersey Shore," referring to MTV's reality TV show about eight housemates spending their summer on the Jersey Shore.

But when the show began shooting, Kagan said he saw signs around the neighborhood that led him to believe Lifetime was not sticking to its promise. He said he saw Lifetime casting call flyers circulating around the neighborhood that read, "Are you the Russian Snooki or The Situation? Can people hear the Euro/Techno/Russian music blasting from your car before they see you pull up?" And he observed "Russian Dolls" producers shooting much of their footage in the neighborhood's lavish catering halls and nightclubs, such as Rasputin, on Avenue X.

A look down Brighton Beach Avenue, under the Q train tracks. (Violette79/Flickr)

"I'm disappointed," said State Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasni, who represents Brighton Beach. The community, which straddles Coney Island on the Southern end of Brooklyn, is home to many Russian-speaking immigrants from around the former Soviet Union. Sitting under the rumbling Q train tracks, Brighton Beach Ave. is lined with hundreds of small businesses that advertise in Cyrillic script.

(L to R) Anna, Diana and Anastasia star in the new Lifetime Original Reality Series "Russian Dolls."Brook-Krasni saw the trailer earlier this week. "I certainly hope that one day the coverage for the Russian-speaking community will be more positive," he said. "The Russian community is arguably one of the most educated and successful immigrant groups. There's a lot of positive things to say."

Pictured at right: (L to R) Anna, Diana and Anastasia, who star in "Russian Dolls." Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke © 2011Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Some Russian-Americans, however, said that the trailer may have hit the mark.

"These are caricatures of the community I grew up in, but they aren't that far from the truth," said Elina Galperin, a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Washington, who emigrated from Belarus as a young child and spent her adolescence in nearby Bensonhurst. "Those characters are what made me want to do whatever I could to find different values to live by and a different life entirely to have. But now that I'm older, I can appreciate the stereotype and laugh about it."

The characters in "Russian Dolls," as portrayed in the trailer, fit common stereotypes of the so-called Novyi Russkiy, or "New Russians." The term is used within the community to refer to newly wealthy Russians who rose up after the fall of the Soviet Union on both sides of the Atlantic who are often lampooned for their conspicuous consumption habits.

Novelist and frequent New York Magazine contributor Michael Idov said he suspected the show would not actually be about ethnicity, but about class.

"We've been giggling at the nouveau riche since Moliere, and the invention of trance music and Armani Exchange just made things that much easier," said Idov. "Still, what I find interesting here is that the producers of the show, one of whom I've met, are of Brighton Beach stock themselves. In other words, what we have on our hands is a couple of assimilated Russian-Americans breaking into show business by exploiting the image of the unassimilated Russian-American. And that's the definition of minstrelsy."

Lifetime did not return WNYC's call for a comment. Watch the full promotional trailer is below.

Tags:

More in:

The Morning Brief

Enter your email address and we’ll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Comments [15]

Darryl from Brandon

I have been to Ukraine and Latvia and this show is funny and yet I find it interesting

People can say Jersey Shore makes Italians look bad

whatever

Turn it off it you don't like it

Jan. 18 2012 09:48 PM
Petronella from Ohio

eeih, wake up and smell the whatever!!! Any Sh*t that u can sell out there sells. The American public is hungry and they can feed on any junk u throw at them.

Sep. 29 2011 03:31 PM
Anna from San Diego,CA

This show is a disgrace to the whole Russian-American community. Also, not all of them are Russians..they are from Ukraine and other ex-USSR countries...America: USSR power came to its end in 1991!!! 20 years ago!!! stop associating every Russian speaking country with Russia!!! Will you say that Australians are Americans just because they speak English!!! Those ladies are the disgrace... that portrays Russian women as desperate prostitutes, who drink vodka 24/7, have no education, will have sex with anyone who has money so they can buy them good things... TOTAL disgrace!!! It creates a very negative image for the rest of Russian-American women, who are going to school, have morals, and want to make a change in this society...Look at me, I am a Forensic Psychology student who concentrates on subjects such as sexual homicide and sexual assaults... How will American society will be looking at Russian-American women like myself after they watch "russian doalls"? side not: unfortunately more than half of the American society receives its education from popular media... They probably learned where Rome is located because they watched "Jersey Shore is going to Italy" !!!
Just watched 1 minute of this crap "dinner at Marina's"... quote " in Russia you dont know if you will be dead or alive the next day"....HELLLLLLL NOOOOOOOOOOOO you can say the same thing about any country. Stop that propaganda that Russian government will imprison or kill everyone who goes against it!!! Putin is not Stalin!!! No one is out there trying to get you, so you have to keep silent or bad FSB ( aka KGB) will come knocking on your door!!! Geez... seriously cold war is over, so stop this propoganda America!!!
Question: how will the Hispanic community feel if some idiot would create a reality show saying that Hispanic community is all the same regardless of what county Hispanic-American person is from.Then they will show everyone eating burritos and drinking tequila and not working. That will cause a catastrophic uproar...because it will be a completely inaccurate and highly offensive representation of Hispanic- American population!!! Same is true of the "russian dolls".

Sep. 04 2011 03:36 AM
Alexander from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY

This isn't over yet: www.facebook.com/RussiansAgainstRussianDolls

Aug. 18 2011 01:35 AM
irene from brooklyn

I agree with Joe B. about boycotting the show. I promise not to watch it anymore.
To my opinion, this show discredited most of the Russian community, and I am, as a member, feel ashamed and discriminated. Hope our community leaders would do their best to put a plug on this show.
Ari Kagan and Alec Brook-Krasni, PLEASE TRY HARDER!
The characters participating in this show are pretty real, but I wish there would be a counter show, where America could see Russian immigrants who are hard working professionals, educated, intelligent and witty.

P.S. I saw an Escort Service ad in the local newspaper, called "Russian Dolls".

Aug. 12 2011 02:35 PM
Anna Yelsky from Brooklyn, NYC

This "Russian Dolls" TV Show Gives the Russian Community a Bad Name!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Russian-Dolls-TV-Show-Gives-the-Russian-Community-a-Bad-Name/174953129240471

Aug. 09 2011 04:09 AM
White Russian Cossack

There was so much anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union the vast majority of Soviet Commissars weren’t even ethnic Russians and currently there is so much anti-Semitism in the Russian Federation that most of the so called "Russian" billionaires aren’t even Russian and of course so much anti-Semitism that these so called oppressed people by ethnic Russians once they receive a green card immediately go to Russia to visit, and the vast majority of them hold dual US and Russian Federation passports. Let us not forget this same ethnic group who immigrated to Germany as oppressed people by the Russians from the former SU is now claiming oppression by Germans to get into the US.

Aug. 07 2011 04:10 PM
Not a Russian from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn

If you live in Brighton Beach you KNOW this show will not be far from the truth!

Just watch the Russian's getting out in front of Tatiana on the weekends. Nothing but hoochies and thugs.

The Russian's in the Brighton neighborhood are 70 years old and barely speak english. It is their kids and grandkids from Sheepshead Bay that are actually the party animals.

Aug. 05 2011 03:08 PM
PYCAK from New York

Hah! I can't wait for this show to air! The "Jersey Shore" got all this negative publicity during its early days but people loved it as I hope they will love the Russian version. I am a Russian immigrant having lived in America for over 30 years. You all are fooling yourselves if you think that these stereotypes don't accurately represent a significant portion of the community! These people epitomize conspicuous consumption. It's all about Bimmers and bling baby!

Aug. 02 2011 02:56 PM
Nicki Minaj Ass from NYC

Only in America, can you immigrate from one country (running away from persecution and anti-semitism, of course) only to end up on another country’s reality show embarrassing not only the country that gave you refugee and an American passport but also the country from which you ran away. http://bit.ly/qdIgeu

----------------------------------
http://youknowyoucare.com

Aug. 02 2011 10:22 AM

Please, enough of this idiocy.

Jul. 28 2011 05:28 PM
4russiawithNOlove from Venus

Everyone just want to be liked for whatever it is: ass, money or brains...
Girls Run The World!

Jul. 28 2011 04:53 PM
Joe B. from Bay Ridge

It never ends. America refuses to grow up.

Good luck getting any kind of substantive explanations or non-P.R.-baloney answers from the network. Their only concerns are ratings and money from ad sales. So...that means feeding the lowest common denominator mentality and producing and programming shows that feature easily digested stereotypes and broad, clownish portrayals of ethnic groups.

BOYCOTT LIFETIME AND THEIR ADVERTISERS!
And let them know you are doing so. Use Twitter, Facebook, etc. It's 2011. Let the jerks know we're sick of it all.

btw: Roman, you aren't "The Solution" you're "The Problem". How excited and proud your parents must be!

Jul. 28 2011 04:39 PM
RomanTheSolution from Brighton Beach & Sheepsahead Bay, Brooklyn


Check out my audition video for this show, I have more scoops about these cast members, plus behind the scenes info:

http://youtu.be/K9iIcsb0_Fw

--Roman "The Solution"

Jul. 28 2011 02:07 PM
Olga

-"Why don't they do a show about the many Russian women who are studying hard in college to be doctors?"

Because those women will never agree to be in a reality show! They have more important things to do in their lives. That's why you get to see stupid whores on the TV, because all the care about is how to get as much attention as they possibly can.

Jul. 28 2011 01:57 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Sponsored

Feeds

Supported by