The CityMingling with the Commoners Season 1 • Episode 8
Last night on The City the rift between the Uptowners and Downtowners deepened, as Olivia enacted a Blair Waldorf–esque scheme for the sole purpose of making Whitney feel like a loser. Jay and Nevan showcased wit we never knew they had, with cutting attacks on each other's social spheres. Erin wrestled with just what kind of slut she wanted to be. The slut with an ongoing affair? Or the slut who needs a break from working street corners to find herself? Whitney, meanwhile, sat around and took a lot of shit. As usual, there was much to learn.
Lesson 1: Bridging the uptown/downtown divide.
Do: Welcome uptowners to your downtown hemisphere. The episode opens with Jay and Whitney having a staged brunch (no downtown restaurant is that empty for brunch at an hour these people would be awake). Self-centered Jay frets over his Cutting Room meeting and asks Whitney who she'll bring to his show. She wants to bring Erin and Olivia. For all the nasty things we can say about Whitney's dim wits, nauseating apartment, and questionable taste in men, we must admit she seems like a nice person for trying to befriend a girl who is ceaselessly, amazingly bitchy to her. But also, if the downtowners didn’t let the uptowners into their world, we’d be a segregated people. It’s difficult for a person without uptown money to suddenly look like they have it, but a person with uptown money can easily pretend like they don't have it. It’s the founding principle of modern Williamsburg, after all.
Don't: Reject the uptowners without giving them a chance. Jay tells Whitney that he hates Olivia, even though he hasn't given her a chance to hear him play — undoubtedly the window to his soul, which could win her over (it worked with Whitney). "I'll cordon off a little area for her so she doesn't feel like she has to mingle with the commoners," he says. We could barely hear the Pussycat Dolls theme song over our own laughter. Our elation heightened when we saw the episode's title: "Mingling With the Commoners." Genius.
Lesson 2: Hailing a cab.
Do: Raise your hand in the air at a slight angle to your head.
Don't: Kick your foot out like a horse and make platypus sounds, like Erin does when she and Whitney are on the way to Olivia's.
Lesson 3: Pregaming.
Do: Drink with your girlfriends before a night out. Olivia offers Whitney and Erin Champagne. We wish she wouldn't call it "Champy," but at least she serves it in actual Champagne flutes instead of typical post-collegiate glassware, like mugs or stolen bar glasses.
Don't: Make your friends wait unnecessarily. Olivia looks like she’s just spent five hours in hair, makeup, and wardrobe when Erin and Whitney arrive, but makes them wait for her to change out of her white jacket. Obviously she can't wear a white jacket to the Cutting Room — someone might spill a drink on her and everything in there, occupants included, is probably covered in a thin, potentially staining grease. She knows this, but changes clothes merely to make the girls wait (and say that she's either going to wear white DVF or black DVF — can't blame that label for maxing out the endorsement deal). If she had answered the door with wet hair, in a frenzy, this would have been acceptable behavior.
Lesson 4: Being on time.
Do: Speak up if a bitch is making you late. Whitney sits on the couch making obnoxious faces, feigning concern about her tardiness to Jay’s show. But she never insists on walking out the door that minute. A truly independent downtown woman would have walked out with Erin while Olivia was in her panty hose. Olivia would have rushed and followed her out like a scared puppy. She spent so much time mocking the evening that she wouldn't let it pass by without getting a good story out of it.
Don't: Blame a bitch when your boyfriend asks why you were late. Jay is pissed that Whitney is late to his show. How he noticed is beyond us, since by some miracle of an MTV casting call the venue was full. Whitney says she couldn't help it because Olivia was trying on clothes. Eventually Jay gets over it, and Erin suggests they all do tequila shots.
Lesson 5: Going to a rock concert.
Don't: See Jay's band. We confess that we're not the best equipped to judge Jay's musical abilities, since he's about the farthest thing from the Beyoncés and Lady Gagas of this world as one gets, but his band sucked. Also, he looks really gross when he sings, and sweats profusely.
Don't: Exit early with the line, "Don't behave." Olivia says this to her new best girlfriends as she dips out. The only people who would say "Don't behave" are the ones who wish they knew what that was like.
Lesson 6: Stabbing someone in the back.
Do: Rather than attacking someone directly, attack a person close to them. Blair uses this tactic on Gossip Girl all the time, and Olivia has been a diligent student. In her never-ending quest to make Whitney feel bad about herself (an impossible task, since Whitney is too brain-dead to have feelings), Olivia tells her she hooked Jay up with a gig at her charity coat-drive event at the Gansevoort, carefully laying the framework for her plot to take Jay down, hitting Whitney where it hurts.
Do: Craft your scheme under the guise of a favor. Even though only a D-list socialite would host a charity coat drive at the Gansevoort with a band like Jay’s playing, Olivia convinces Whitney that she's doing Jay a good deed. She probably arranged the event just so she could enact this plot, which makes us feel warm inside.
Do: Attack when the victim is alone and vulnerable. While Olivia, Nevan, and Whitney watch Jay's awful band play, Nevan provides running hysterical commentary on their ugly plaid ensembles. "We're not in the Yukon. Are they going to cut a forest after this?" he says. Whitney pouts but says nothing. A true diva would tell Olivia that wearing plaid is better than looking like a stuffed peacock, and Nevan that he’s too gross to get some even from loose-goose Erin.
Lesson 7: Cheating on your boyfriend.
Don’t: Go back to an ex who bartends at Brother Jimmy’s. Not that we condone cheating, but if one must (ahem, Adam), one may as well do it with a smoking-hot piece of ass. Preferably someone dumb, so you mean it when you say, “It didn’t mean anything!” Erin’s old flame J.R. seems dumb but suffers from the same unfortunate hirsuteness of face that makes Jay seem so filthy.
Don’t: Cry outside Brother Jimmy’s when you get drunk and emotional and foil your own plans. Erin tells Whitney she’d “totally suck J.R.’s face off” that night. But when opportunity knocks on a Murray Hill street with low foot traffic, Erin bawls and tells J.R. she doesn’t know if they can hang out anymore. It’s probably the most demoralizing scene of the series. For both of them.
Lesson 8: Throwing down.
Don’t: Air your grievances at work. Whitney confronts Olivia as soon as she arrives at the office the next morning. Obviously this can go nowhere, since we know Olivia doesn’t like to break composure on the job, fake though it may be. Whitney should have hidden outside and attacked Olivia with a Nairtini on her way in. Or at least spilled coffee on her.
Do: Outwit your enemy. Olivia tells Whitney that Jay should have “done his research” on how to dress for her function. Because no one ever wears plaid to the Gansevoort. Olivia shuts Whitney up before she realizes she’s not green enough to be fooled by this. “In the future, let's leave our work environment separate from our personal environment," she says, thereby owning Whitney for the zillionth time.