Surprise! Surprise! NYC Prep is Not Reality

Bravo’s controversial reality show, NYC Prep, chronicled the life of five NYC prep school kids and one public schooler in various stages of their high school careers. The show was replete with teenage angst, underage drinking, parental overindulgence and a large dose of drama from both the girls and, surprisingly, the boys. In the end, we saw that having a lot of money doesn’t necessarily make for happy or well-adjusted kids, that parents really make a difference in their children’s lives, even during high school, and that, rich or poor, high school kids are insecure and crave acceptance. Allie and Josh (not their real names) are two former NYC prep school kids who now attend separate Ivy League colleges. Each week during the NYC Prep season Allie and Josh wrote a recap of each episode for Woman Around Town, comparing their experiences to those of the kids on the show. Allie and Josh sat down with us for an interview before heading back to college.

WAT: The kids in NYC Prep seem so grown up. Were the experiences of the NYC Prep kids similar to yours in High School?

Allie: In some ways. When we were in high school there was a real divide between the private and public schools. We didn’t know any public school kids – except when they mugged us. Being mugged for your lunch money was almost a rite of passage for private school boys.

Josh: The overall theme of kids having to grow up quickly in NYC rang true. In NYC you are forced to do more grown up type activities, but that doesn’t mean you are. This idea that kids grown up faster in NYC wasn’t shown in the most intelligent way in the show, but it was a good point.

WAT: Based on your own experience, did anything on the show strike you as staged or inauthentic?

Allie: There seemed to be several staged events to get the kids together. That “old persons” restaurant where Camille threw her dinner party did not seem realistic. In fact, the NYC Prep kids seemed to go to dinner parties quite a bit. We went out to dinner (every NYC kid knows which restaurants “serve”) but we also went to house parties a lot. We were always on the prowl for apartments where the parents weren’t home.

Josh: But we were always pretty well behaved, because in some of these apartments, there were real Matisses and Picassos on the wall. Back to NYC Prep, certain things they did, like going to fashion shows, were not things we did. To be cynical, it’s doubtful if Jessie would have had an internship without the help of Bravo.

WAT: NYC Prep filmed the kids doing a lot of underage drinking. Did that surprise you?

Allie: Not really. We drank at parties and restaurants, but the NYC Prep kids did seem drunk on camera a few times, which seemed careless.

Josh: I remember being in some bar in high school and a group of Miller Lite girls were there and asked us if we wanted to be on a commercial. They even had a contract for us to sign. We said no.

WAT: Both of you were pretty severe in your comments about Camille in your recaps. Why was that?

Josh: I particularly hated the charity crap; she was riding Jessie’s coattails and doing it only for the college transcript. She didn’t bring much to the table, but with the charity nonsense she became worse.

Allie: Her whole Harvard-one-note was ridiculous. Camille has not demonstrated why she wants to go to Harvard or why she deserves to go there. She seemed to be the biggest poser, trying to impress the camera. The others seemed more genuine.

WAT: Who, if anyone, did you like on the show?

Allie: Jessie was interesting to watch. She was hated enough by the other characters to add some drama. Jessie showed a great work ethic and got really upset when PC almost ruined her internship. She is driven to succeed.

Josh: None of them. This is a difficult question to answer. There were no male characters that I could relate to, but Bravo is not interested in my demographic. Kelli was boring but earnest and honest. The most interesting episode was the one where Kelli goes to the Hamptons and we learn that her sister has Cerebral Palsy, which is why Kelli lives in the city and her parents stay in the Hamptons. It is a real dilemma for the family.

WAT: Was there anyone, other than Camille, whom you disliked?

Josh: I really disliked Sebastian’s dad. It’s easy to see where Sebastian got his attitude about girls. He had these rehearsed parenting lines, but you could see he was a sleaze.

Allie: Taylor’s mom was annoying, too. She tried to come off as a good parent, but can you really be a good parent if you let your kids be on a Bravo reality show? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

WAT: Two of the NYC Prep kids are off to college and we know the others will soon follow. Are NYC kids really any different than kids from other places, academically or socially?

Allie: At college, I noticed that the NYC kids were more outspoken in class at the beginning, but it evens out. Generally, though, I would have to say that NYC kids don’t stick out much in the Ivy League, primarily because the Ivies are filled with NYC kids.

Josh: I think NYC kids could stick out, either good or bad, in non-Ivies. The most important part of college, for me, is meeting people from other parts of the country and the world.

Allie: It makes you realize that NYC people are the best (laughs).

WAT: You both went to NYC prep schools, although not any of the schools the kids on the show attend. Did your NYC prep school prepare you for college better than the high schools your college classmates attended?

Josh: Yes. Absolutely. The gap was amazing. When I started college, I had really smart roommates who deserved to be there, but when they asked me to edit their papers, I couldn’t believe how bad they were. NYC prep schools prepare you for the workload and teach you a lot about time management.

Allie: Also, the writing programs in NYC prep schools are excellent. They really teach you how to write well.

Josh: All this is a gross generalization, as not all NYC prep schools are the same, nor are the kids. I know plenty of kids who went to great prep schools, did no work and now go to lousy schools. And I know kids in the opposite situation.

WAT: Let’s change the subject. It seems that every fall an article appears in the New York Times or New York Magazine with the sole aim of scaring parents to death about their adolescent’s sex life. Surprisingly, there was very little sex in NYC Prep. Is that unusual?

Allie: It didn’t strike me as strange. Sex was not a large part of our lives either. Girls talk about it more, though.

Josh: There was not even much talking about it in our group of guys. We never talked about it. I don’t believe it’s more prevalent in NYC than in other places.

WAT: You had mentioned that some of the parents were the least liked characters on the show. Do you have any thoughts on the other parents?

Allie: I thought Jessie’s mother was great. A typical Upper West Side or Upper East Side parent might be upset if their kid wanted to go into fashion. Some may see it as a “throw-away,” but Jessie’s mom was so supportive. She knew it was important to Jessie. She helped her with her resume and really wanted her to succeed. PC seems to have no parents; his therapist was his parental surrogate.

Josh: Sebastian’s father always seemed to be acting. “Sometimes you have to put away the blackberry” was one of his better lines.

Allie: Kelli being left alone is ridiculous. As much freedom as it gives her, it also gives her a lot of responsibility that she seems to be handling well. It’s too bad that her parents weren’t around to go to Sebastian’s dinner to hear her sing. Living by yourself is not necessarily a blessing.

WAT: What do you think about the parents letting their kids appear on the show?

Josh: Horrible. One of the worst decisions they could ever make. Their kids’ names will always be on Google and this will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Allie: Even if the kids didn’t do anything so terrible, you never know how other people will react.

Josh: In the end, that’s the major difference with growing up in NYC. With good parenting, it can be as good as anywhere, with bad parenting, it can be… this.

WAT: Thank you both for writing your insightful and funny recaps each week. Many of our readers are curious about your identity? Do you want to give them a hint? What schools do you go to?

Josh: Obviously not Harvard.
Allie: They’ll just have to narrow it down from there.