Bay Ridge Women Fight Back Against ‘Degrading’ Reality Show

March 1, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Paula Katinas

Brooklyn Eagle

BAY RIDGE — State Sen. Diane Savino has a message for the producers of “Brooklyn 11223,” the new reality television show about twenty-somethings in Bay Ridge who apparently spend much of their lives cursing, drinking and dancing in clubs.

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“This ain’t the Jersey Shore. This is Brooklyn and we fight back!” Savino said.

Savino was one of dozens of Bay Ridge women invited by Councilman Vincent Gentile to attend his press conference on Feb. 24 to denounce “Brooklyn 11223,” a show that he said presents a negative portrait of women.

“The producers degrade all women,” Gentile said. “We’re here to present the real women of Bay Ridge.”

Gentile pointed to the array of businesswomen, civic activists, political leaders and homemakers standing behind him at the podium. Calling them “strong, skilled and smart,” he said they are “the leaders in business and education and the builders of family life.”“Brooklyn 11223” stars Christie (left) and Carla make their way down the Coney Island boardwalk. Illustrating the concerns felt by many in Bay Ridge, where the show is largely based, Carla is wearing a T-shirt that reads, “Study Less, Party More.”  Photo courtesy of Francine Daveta/Oxygen Media

The press conference took place inside Beyond Dance, a dance studio at 8717 Third Ave. that is owned by local resident Jennifer Abad. Abad said the cast members of “Brooklyn 11223” don’t resemble the talented, hardworking and committed dance students who walk through her studio doors every day.  

“This is not what they aspire to be,” she said.

Women at the press conference expressed concern that viewers who watch the show will believe that women in Bay Ridge are really like the feuding, fighting females portrayed by the cameras.

“Brooklyn 11223” will premiere on the Oxygen Network on Monday, March 26, at 11 p.m. The show’s stars are two young women, Joey Lynn and Christie, who are bitter rivals. The two women have such intense hatred for each other that their feud spills over to their respective friends.

The show features scenes filmed in the neighborhood’s restaurants, clubs and streets, according to a press release from the Oxygen Network. Scenes were also filmed in Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Coney Island. But the bulk of the action takes place in Bay Ridge.

One way to fight back against the negative stereotypes is to boycott Bay Ridge bars and restaurants that cooperate with the show, Savino said.

“We need to talk to the people of Bay Ridge,” she said.

Any business owner who allows scenes to be filmed in his or her establishment doesn’t deserve the community’s business, she said.

Gentile hosted the press conference and spoke first. But then the councilman stepped aside and invited the women to speak.

“This is not what we want them to think of us,” Abad said.

Bina Valenzano, co-owner of The BookMark Shoppe at 8415 Third Ave., said the reality show doesn’t reflect reality at all.

“I work hard every day to show my niece what it means to be a responsible adult,” she said.

Karen Tadross, a producer with Ridge Chorale/Jeff Samaha Productions, said the show could do a lot of damage.

“The women of Brooklyn have tried to overcome stereotypes. This show really takes us two steps back,” she said. “These producers look for women to humiliate themselves.”

Tadross predicted that the show’s stars will regret taking part in “Brooklyn 11223’ when they look back 10 years from now.

In the press release promoting “Brooklyn 11223,” the Oxygen Network described the show as a riveting, no-holds-barred look at today’s young people.

“The series provides a voyeuristic look into the lives of a group of twenty-something friends whose once rock-solid friendships have been torn apart by betrayal,” according to the press release.

The Oxygen Network defended the show in a statement issued a few hours after Gentile’s press conference.

“Viewers can decide for themselves on March 26 when the story of ‘Brooklyn 11223’ begins to unfold and we meet this authentic group of friends set against the vibrant backdrop of the great and diverse Borough of Brooklyn,” the statement read.An animated Councilman Vincent Gentile speaks out against “Brooklyn 11223,” joined by dozens of angry women, including state Sen. Diane Savino (right). 	Eagle photos by Paula Katinas

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