A suburban New York congressman who represents the area where Bravo films its series "Princesses: Long Island" says the show is "the most objectionable thing I've ever seen on television" and promotes stereotyping of Jews.
The network should show a disclaimer before every episode to say there's nothing real about the nonfiction show, said Rep. Steve Israel, a New York Democrat.
Bravo said Friday the new series has averaged just over 1 million viewers over three airings on Sunday nights, which is considered a very successful start. "Princesses: Long Island" is reminiscent of MTV's "Jersey Shore" in focusing on a small subculture, in this case six young, unmarried women who are generally of comfortable means with plenty of idle time.
One of the women, Ashlee White, is nearly 30 and lives at home where her parents cook her food and do her laundry. She's looking for Mr. Right, but has high standards. "I'm Jewish, I'm American and I'm a princess," White said.
"I initially thought it was all in good fun," Israel said. "But 20 minutes into the show, I realized that promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes isn't that fun. It's one of the most objectionable things I've ever seen on television, and there are a lot of objectionable things on television."
Jodi Davis, a Bravo spokeswoman, said the show is "about six women who are young, educated, single and Jewish living in Long Island, and is not meant to represent all Jewish women or other residents of Long Island."
Israel said he's not encouraging Bravo to take the show off the air, but would like a statement like Davis' shown on the air. She had no immediate comment on whether Bravo would be able to or want to do that.
"Princesses: Long Island" has already had one incident that compelled an apology. White was quoted in one episode as calling the Long Island community of Freeport a "ghetto" in a cellphone conversation with her father, who advised her to roll up her car windows.
White, in a Bravo blog post, later apologized, saying she had been "stressed, overwhelmed and not thinking" when she said that.
Israel, a former president of the Institute on the Holocaust and the Law who once worked for the American Jewish Congress, said the show "leads viewers to believe that this is what being Jewish is all about, that if you're Jewish and live on Long Island, you're narcissistic, you are all about money and that a Shabbat dinner is all about drinking and fighting," he said.
The congressman, who also wrote about the show on The Huffington Post, said he wasn't concerned that speaking out publicly would encourage more people to watch it.
"Silence never works," he said.
EDITOR'S NOTE — David Bauder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder.