Streams

Reality TV Show ‘Brooklyn 11223’ Dismays Some Bay Ridge Residents

Monday, March 26, 2012

Gearing up for a night out on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge. Gearing up for a night out on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge. (Denise Blostein/WNYC)

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, reality shows have become a permanent fixture in American popular culture and have raised the ire of many natives in the locales where they are set. When cameras began to roll on the Jersey Shore in 2009, locals rolled their eyes and lashed out against the ways in which their community was represented, as did Brighton Beach, Brooklyn residents when word got out about the Lifetime network series "Russian Dolls" last year.

But when some Bay Ridge residents heard about a new reality show being shot on their turf, they were actually excited that their oft-forgotten corner of Brooklyn might steal the spotlight from the borough’s trendier neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Park Slope. That is, until they saw the trailer for "Brooklyn 11223," which debuts on the Oxygen network on Monday night.

“Initially I thought it was kinda cool to have something in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Something about us,” said Inna Trinidad, who owns Kaleidoscope Toy Store at 8722 Third Avenue and has lived in Bay Ridge for six years.  

Her excitement turned to disappointment when she learned more about the show: “More and more now, especially the more they're showing it on TV to advertise it, the more I'm becoming negative towards the idea.”

Trinidad’s sentiments were echoed by more than two dozen Bay Ridge residents who turned out for a press conference led by Councilman Vincent Gentile of Brooklyn in February. Residents called the show a Jersey Shore-style knock off that denigrated women and made the community look crass and cartoonish.

State Sen. Diane Savino, who also spoke at the event, said the reality series continued “the trend of portraying Italian-American women in the worst possible light,” and called upon residents to boycott restaurants and businesses that had allowed producers to film in their establishments.

Get a taste of "Brooklyn 11223" below.

The show's executive producer, Michael Hirschorn, says he wasn’t out to exploit Italian Americans. Casting crews started their search in Queens before they stumbled upon Joey Lynn Tekulve and Christie Livoti, who live in Gravesend but hang out in Bay Ridge, and thought the tension between the two former best friends would make for a good story.

“The fact that they’re Italian is less interesting,” he said.

Still, Hirschorn acknowledges that fixing the camera on certain traits he finds common to Brooklynites was hard to resist.

“There’s a preponderance of people who are a bit louder, a bit brash, a little more outspoken — and that’s not a bad thing,” he said.

Like many neighborhoods in the city’s five boroughs, the demographics in Bay Ridge have shifted in past decades. Predominately Italian immigrants lived there in the 1970s when John Travolta strutted his stuff on the disco dance floor as Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever. These days, the Italian-American presence is strong but shoppers at Century21 on the neighborhood’s bustling Fifth Avenue are just as likely to be East-Asians, African Americans, Latinos, Orthodox Jews and Muslim women wearing hijabs.

Bay Ridge resident Inna Trinidad says she doesn't see that diversity represented in "Brooklyn 11223."

“I definitely think they're misrepresenting the neighborhood,” she said. “And in ways that it's now become such a melting pot as opposed to just one particular culture, Italian American.”

Bina Valenzano, who grew up in nearby Bensonhurst in the ‘80s and ‘90s and now calls Bay Ridge home, also feels the show dwells too much on Italian-American stereotypes. At February’s press conference, she voiced her opposition to the show, noting that the producers didn’t even get the Bay Ridge zip code right. Gravesend’s zip code is 11223 while Bay Ridge’s zipcode is 11209.

“If they wanted to create a show with residents of Gravesend, they should’ve kept it in Gravesend,” she said.

With the show’s pilot premiering on Monday night, however, those most offended by "Brooklyn 11223" now question whether speaking up does any good.

“Some people have said we should just stop talking about it and let it die down,” said Valenzano.

Despite their grievances, some Bay Ridge residents do admit that they’re curious to see how the show will depict their community. Even Valenzano may check it out.

“It’s kinda like a train wreck,” she said. “You have to slow down to see what’s going on.”

Hashtag primed for tweeting, one of the taglines in Oxygen’s advertisements for “Brooklyn 11223” pronounces, “This ain’t Jersey.” After the premiere of the show on Monday, though, many residents may tell you, “It ain’t Bay Ridge either.”

See a slideshow of Bay Ridge below.

Bay Ridge residents enjoy a Saturday morning on the Shore Promenade.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
Bay Ridge residents enjoy a Saturday morning on the Shore Promenade.
A youngster enjoys a horse ride outside a Third Avenue variety store.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
A youngster enjoys a horse ride outside a Third Avenue variety store.
Stocking up supplies at 86 Noodles on Fourth Avenue and 86th Street in Bay Ridge.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
Stocking up supplies at 86 Noodles on Fourth Avenue and 86th Street in Bay Ridge.
Kids play handball near the Fort Hamilton Athletic Field.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
Kids play handball near the Fort Hamilton Athletic Field.
The weekend blow-out ritual. A stylist tames a client's wavy locks at Pilo Arts Day Spa and Salon.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
The weekend blow-out ritual. A stylist tames a client's wavy locks at Pilo Arts Day Spa and Salon.
Stylists tend to clients at Pilo Arts Day Spa and Salon, a trendy Bay Ridge salon since 1978.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
Stylists tend to clients at Pilo Arts Day Spa and Salon, a trendy Bay Ridge salon since 1978.
Getting ready for a busy Friday night at Nino's Bay Ridge Pizza.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
Getting ready for a busy Friday night at Nino's Bay Ridge Pizza.
The coffee bar at Paneantico.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
The coffee bar at Paneantico.
Cannoli and other pastries at Paneantico Bakery on Third Avenue.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
Cannoli and other pastries at Paneantico Bakery on Third Avenue.
Michael Deliso, of Bensonhurst, prepares capuccinos for customers at Paneantico.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
Michael Deliso, of Bensonhurst, prepares capuccinos for customers at Paneantico.
Gearing up for a night out on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
Gearing up for a night out on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge.
The Friday night scene at Cebu, a popular restaurant and bar on Third Avenue.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
The Friday night scene at Cebu, a popular restaurant and bar on Third Avenue.
Friday night karaoke at DelCorso Cafe on Third Avenue and 71st Street. A regular croons Sinatra classics and traditional Neapolitan songs.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
Friday night karaoke at DelCorso Cafe on Third Avenue and 71st Street. A regular croons Sinatra classics and traditional Neapolitan songs.
Patrons celebrate the grand re-opening of Leo's Casa Calamari on Third Avenue and 86th Street.
Denise Blostein/WNYC
Patrons celebrate the grand re-opening of Leo's Casa Calamari on Third Avenue and 86th Street.

Tags:

More in:

Comments [17]

jeanineardizzone from 11223

I have raised five children in the same house that I still live in (48 years) and my memories tell me that - 11223 is great! who writes for your show,probably no one who lives here - it's time to be counted among the best and the safest place to live, to retire,to belong to a neighborhood - 11223
drop by and meet fifteen grandchildren and a very proud family

Jan. 18 2013 07:53 AM
DIANE from GRAVESEND, BROOKLYN 11223

11223 IS THE ZIP CODE FOR MY NEIGHBORHOOD WHICH IS GRAVESEND. ARE THE PRODUCERS THAT DENSE AS TO NOT EVEN RESEARCH THE RIGHT ZIP FOR BAY RIDGE, 11209? THIS SHOULD BE A REAL BOMB....!!

Jun. 25 2012 07:32 PM
Darlene from Canada

Wow. I didn't think anything on TV could be worse than Jersey Shore. I was wrong! And we wonder why some of the youth of today are such spoiled, foul-mouthed, self absorbed prima- donna's headed for the trailer park!With such quality programming available, I'm glad my town has a good book store!

Jun. 19 2012 05:22 PM
Kenny

Get some Oxygen (Oxygen) and dump this show and fast !!!

Jun. 05 2012 10:25 AM
stray from Canton

There are a bunch of us out here who have said for the last 50 that the general New Yorker is the dumbest idiot to ever breathe air. (We were right about the Honeymooners). The reason we feel that way is that, beside the fact New Yorkers are dumb as rocks, they worry about the dumbest stuff. "OMG, what will Jane say if she found out you kissed Junior on Saturday night?!?" Who gives a shit except you losers in the burrough? Then comes the guys who think they are SOOO bad. Tommy down the street may be scared of you since second grade? The rest of us wish you would come out here in the rest of the states and run your mouth.

Apr. 24 2012 02:12 AM
Casey from Greenville SC

My name is Casey from South Carolina. I watch the show every week. Jerrylynn, should be the person to question her fair weather friends! If you were friends for years, and you said you didn't do anything, that should be enough. Sound's to me, they might be haters!!!. I went through the same thing. I hurts to know you didn't do shit. In the south, we say "Bless your Heart" "Bless It" ! Luv U girl!

Apr. 24 2012 12:23 AM
melissa martinez from San Antonio, Tx

So I have watched the 3 episode of this show all that seems to be going is the fact that this christie person seems to keep harping on the same thing. On how her bff and ex-boyfriend had a thing, in which seems to be so hard for her to move on from. Yet she is approched by people on the matter including the woman who hurt her. She seems to never really resolve anything. Yet she has this guy who is here boyfriend and he seems to care for her, so my question is. Why the hell dose she not just let it go? I mean if she thinks that woman is lying to her and her ex is lying then just leave it be and move hell on. All this show seems to show is how christie keeps harping on the same thing in all 3 aired shows. On another note, do any of these woman work? Have actual 9-5 jobs?

Apr. 17 2012 01:45 PM
Dee originally from Sheepshead Bay Bklyn from New England

I am originally from Bklyn and it disturbs me to see how this show portrays young Bklyn "women". Now, I'm all for having fun....but this show is trashy and portrays these young "women" as 'white-trash"!!!! If you want to get into Show business, get a S.A.G. card and tryout for parts like everyone else who is in the business.

The producers and the "crews" (?) should be ashamed of themselves!!!

Apr. 17 2012 12:34 PM
sue west

I am ashamed to say that I know one of these girl's mothers. I believe that it is child abuse to have her little 4 year old son sit at the dinner table while they talk trash. He is an innocent child. What is wrong with her?

Apr. 05 2012 09:37 PM
Dan

Why do they make these shows? Most people do not watch these programs! I am from Brooklyn and MTV loves to make fun of white people. These are low class white people or trash. They are taking advantage of people who have severe problems and their parents did a terrible job raising them. Came from Marine Park born and raised! Most of us never act that way but in every area, there are low class acting people with no morals and more so today! MTV is apart of the Entertainment Media that has huge contribution of making the country immoral and they getting away with this! MTV in the 80s was watched a lot more before rap and hip started to set in by the early 1990s and to me it lost so much popularity and they do not seem to care. So what do do? They do these low class reality shows. I will judge. You are horrible people. Hope one day we become more conservative! It switches back and forth.

Apr. 04 2012 10:51 PM
yolanda from CT

This show SUCKS! These chick are corny, wack, lame the list goes on... I hope this show doesnt come back for another season. Their just loud and petty for no reason its like im in high school all over again! # SO DISAPPOINTED

Apr. 03 2012 07:36 PM
WEBnyc from BayRidge, Brooklyn

I happened to stumble upon this last night. I am a resident of Bay Ridge. While I love trash reality tv I thought this was horrible. Homely boring girls and boys with no interesting story, causing drama in my neighborhood. Not even a good representation of BayRidge- I mean, we have tons of attractive, interesting, cool people here, why import lower middle class trash with no fashion sense who look as if they don't bathe regularly? This is just a fail. I love Jersey Shore, I love RHoNJ, I love 'em all, but this is beyond uber lame.

Apr. 03 2012 01:41 PM
John from Brooklyn

Imagine a show that portrayed neighborhoods associated with Jewish, African-American, Arab or Asian residents in such a manner. Oh, you can't imagine that? Right, because it would be considered bigoted stereotyping and the show would never even see the light of day. And if it did, there would be boycotts and press conferences and apologies. Italian-Americans, however, are supposed to just "get over it" and relish their relentless portrayal by corporate America as clowns, criminals and vapid consumerist morons.

The jerks who agree to be filmed for this trash only share part of the blame. The bigger jerks are the "creative" people who sit around in corporate conference rooms having "brainstorms" to come up with such brilliant ideas.
The biggest jerks are the execs at MTV, Oxygen, et al who "greenlight" the projects and broadcast them.
Stop to think for a moment that the "creatives" and execs have actually graduated from institutions of higher learning here in the Good Ol' U.S. of A. Kind of makes you all teary-eyed and proud, doesn't it? Is this the best they can do? Will this country ever grow the **** up?!

I hope these pigs choke to death on their ad revenues.

Apr. 03 2012 01:12 PM
sharbar from CO

I watched the previews to this show and it seems like something I'd like to watch. I love drama, especially nonsense drama. A co-worker at DISH told me the plot of it; I don't think I would lose a really good girlfriend over a guy I am not with. If I did it, I'd admit it and apologize or I'd deny it till I die. When I get home, I plan on watching it on my computer, that’s where I watch all my shows using DISH Online. It's a neat way to stay connected.

Apr. 03 2012 01:00 PM
BayRidgeJen from Bay Ridge

The people aren't from Bay Ridge. The zip code isn't bay ridge. Oxygen your show isn't about Bay Ridge so get it out of the description.

Apr. 01 2012 01:10 PM
Lexy from Clifton, NJ

The Oxygen channel, which is marketed to women, has a bad habit of showing these reality shows with back-biting, loud young women. They fight habitually, don't seem to have any type of career pursuits, and make women seem one-dimensional and petty. The programming structure needs to change. This program is centered around two girls who are fighting over a guy none of them is even involved with any more, based on hearsay. Forget "West Side Story," this is closer to a comedy of errors such as "Three's Company." I may venture to say these two young women were never friends, because a rumor shouldn't have the power to destroy a friendship they both claimed was so strong.

Mar. 28 2012 12:11 PM
wilbur blount from New York, NY

It's MTV, they have one formula and that is to make the guys look like no neck meat heads and the women look like totally idiots. Just add alcohol and the location is completely irrelevant.

Mar. 26 2012 02:13 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Sponsored

Feeds

Supported by