Until now we've been enjoying NYC Prep in the same curious way one occasionally marvels at the doings of Animal Planet: The participants, so strange and exotic, were undeniably a different species, but every once in a while we would catch a glimpse of humanity that grasped at our hearts and convinced us we were all part of the same something.
But watching last night's episode, we just started to get annoyed. Because it started to become evident that the Bravo producers were so set on creating a plotline or a catchphrase or a Television Moment that they forgot to just let the cast be human. We've never noticed the seams of a reality show quite like we do onNYC Prep, where the producers are clearly manipulating the footage of Kelli, Jessie, Camille, Sebastian, PC, and Taylor, so much so that even normal teenage angst and awkwardness seems over-the-top. Conversations are sloppily cut together, and in some cases, superimposed on footage where it's obvious no one is talking, or if they are, they're not saying what we're hearing. It's bothersome, because surely, these kids are more interesting than the blonde bots on Laguna Beach and The Hills. There's enough nuanced awkwardness in Jessie and PC's relationship without the adults in the editing room desperately trying to make the whole "PC IS PROBABLY GAY" thing happen. He's a teenager, first of all, and second, how much help do they think we need to see what might be going on?
Here's a short list of the moments they included to convince us that PC is a nascent homosexual. (We alluded to this in last week's recap, but for some readers — Bravo producers perhaps — it was too subtle.)
• "Dude doesn't your mom like hate me? Don't you remember last time I was like, half naked on your bed, drunk. And you were like, JP, get in the bed now, my mom's coming!" —JP, PC's Mexican friend, to PC
• "I guess you'd call it a bromance." —PC, obviously responding to a question from a producer, on his friendship with JP.
• "He's bi." —JP, obviously joking, about PC.
• "Anything's possible, I mean, sure, one day we could date. And I could date a chimp." —PC, on the prospect of dating Jessie.
• "There's not that big of a difference between dating and being best friends, if you think about it." —PC, again on the prospect of dating Jessie.
• "No, I swear to God, I was so uninterested." And "There's not naked girls, there's like stupid bikini contests." —PC, on the girls in Cancun.
• "Is this the gay-pride bear?" —PC, on a Care Bear. [Really??]
Plus there's the footage of JP constantly putting his arm around PC (that's how they do in Mexico, dudes!) and the footage of PC looking moodily at the ocean superimposed with an image of JP surfing, which were clearly taken at different times, and PC rejecting pretty girls at Cancun clubs but dancing with a fat girl. We get it! But PC's interesting without this plotline, which we have no way of knowing is even based in reality. So can we lay off, please?
That being said, there was some awesomeness in this episode, and one person definitely won. Onward!
In this episode, we learned that Taylor's sweet-and-innocent act was about as real as the Garnier Fructis–red streaks in her hair. She's full-on playing Sebastian now — and while we appreciate the player getting played as much as anyone else, we'd rather she didn't pretend to be so naïve about it. Own it, girl, the way you owned that slightly-too-sexy-for-a-show-with-an-adult-audience gymnastics routine! Also, enough with the whole, "I've always wanted to just marry rich, and maybe I should just think of things with Sebastian" routine. The girl is 15! She's not marrying anybody. (Though again, this seems like a line of thought trumped up by Bravo producers to us. We can just imagine them asking her over and over again in the confessional: "If you could only base your decision on the fact that Sebastian has money, and Cole's genitalia was melted in a freak acid fire, who would you choose??")
Meanwhile, Jessie is not allowed to talk about anything but PC. Which is fine, because that is riveting. Intel Chris remembers all too well the time in high school when one of his girl best friends said, as she sat behind him in a massage circle,"Isn't it so crazy how everyone thinks we have all this sexual tension??" And he laughed and laughed, and then stopped paying attention because he was daydreaming Angela Chase and Jordan Catalano making out in the school basement, and about how he really loved distressed flannel shirts. Also, said best girlfriend definitely had her pals telling her, like Jessie, that Chris was ignoring her "to make her jealous." Why do girls give one another this kind of advice?? Are they hell-bent on destroying one another's abilities to analyze real-world scenarios, in order to cut them out of competition for prime mates? Jessie gains empathy points for this, as well as for wearing a bikini on TV and owning it, even though when she went in the ocean she didn't get her hair wet and merely stood oddly in the surf like she was peeing. But she lost points for fretting about losing her queen-bee status at college ("You know how in high school, everyone knows who you are?"), for yelling to the hired help to walk her ancient dog, and generally giving us a peek at the adult she will grow up to be.
For the first time since the series began, we feel like we got a glimpse behind the golden curtain of Sebastian's bangs and into his psyche, when he had lunch with his dad, who appears to be a dickhead and a perv. We feel comfortable saying he is a perv because he tells his son he made a "good call" about dating a hot teenage German exchange student. And we feel okay about calling him a dickhead, because he then added, "Yeah and what's the point of that?" when Sebastian said she has a boyfriend back in Germany. You can tell by the way Sebastian doesn't tell his dad about Taylor because he knows his dad is living vicariously through him and feels pressure to perform for him, and this does give some depth to his character. He also gained points for being cute with Taylor, and for having what may be the best conversation of the season so far:
Sebastian: What are you doing for Christmas?
Sebastian: Oh, you celebrate Chanukah? All seven days?
Kelli: Eight days. And since on Christmas Eve, there's like, not a lot of Jews out here, we like to go to a movie.
Sebastian: That's what we were talking about in my school. My teacher's like, "What are you doing?" to this kid, and he was like, "Yeah, I'm eating Chinese food on Christmas Day and going to a movie."
Sebastian: That's what like the movies are for. The Jewish people.
Still, it will take a lot more for him to win the episode.
Speaking of which, Kelli was allowed one moment of reality in this episode, during which we met her sister with cerebral palsy, whom Kelli briefly described as "awesome." Soon after, she is informed that there has been a death in the family, and for a brief moment we are all left to wonder: Holy shit, is it the sister? But this, of course, is cheap manipulation: We are soon informed the large and elaborate funeral — which had been touted hard in promos and superimposed with Kelli's strangled cry, "I didn't want her to die," — was actually for the family dog, Lily. Were we supposed to feel relieved that it wasn't a person? Were we supposed to laugh? Maybe, but we kind of didn't because when you're a kid, losing a dog is really upsetting. Anyway, we're not counting Kelli because she wasn't really allowed the opportunity to perform this time around, and she did not earn the win. Though it might just be that we're jealous of her insane Hamptons house. (And is that really a pet cemetery in the Hamptons? Bananas.)
Once again, PC gave a strong performance, mostly through funny lines like, "I don't really know many Mexican guys in New York City, except like, delivery guys" and "Oh, I'm really looking forward to appearing to be a pimp at Daddy's in Cancun" and ""The girls are from Texas. You know, I mean, Texas." He also wins points for having an actual Mexican friend and still going to Señor Frogs, and for having a good beach body.
Once again, Camille delivered a strong, subtle performance. Instead of involving herself to be dragged into the major drama, she instead tackled a monstrous personal stylist hired by her parents to go through her closet. As the woman starting throwing away expensive items that were "last season" and "not her style" (were we meant to assume that the woman was going to then sell them to her other clients?), Camille stood up to her. "I've had stylists come in that were abrasive before," she warned the woman, before jumping into a set of clothes that she proved were indeed her style and insisting on keeping ("my dad's vintage sweater from the nineties"). But while this scene proved Camille had more of a sense of self than most adults we know, it was actually an entirely different short scene that won her the episode. At the very beginning, when she was at the chocolate shop with Taylor listening to her gripe about Sebastian and Cole, she saw the immediate solution. A dinner with Kelli, Sebastian, Taylor, and Cole, all together! If there was a better, more spectacularly disastrous way to resolve the stupid situation, we doubt even Blair Waldorf could have thought of it.
Lily: Kelli's dog appeared alive and well early in the episode, and although we were told she was ill, we were spared the Marley & Me–style death scene. She died with dignity, and had perhaps the most spectacular funeral we have ever seen for a family dog: The coffin, the speeches, the white blanket of un-peed-upon snow. Between this and Michael Jackson, we're starting to feel all creatures should be celebrated at this level.
Zen Palate: and that chocolate shop, what was that place? We couldn't tell.
Cole: Because he is genuinely adorable, if a little stalkery. Also Cole's brother, and Cole's friend who look exactly like Cole, and who want him to text them to tell them how awesome Taylor's performance was. Depending on how you look at it, this too was either sweet or creepy, but we're going with sweet.
Señor Frog's: For appearing ironically cool instead of just gross, for the first time ever.