Before the HBO series Girls debuted in April, critics anticipated a Brooklyn version of Sex and the City. Then the show actually aired, and it became clear that this story about women in New York was very different -- for better and for worse -- than the story of Carrie Bradshaw.
That's the first of many things Girls has in common with Gallery Girls, the reality show on Bravo tracking the lives of young women in the New York City art scene, including two native Miamians. The stars of the show -- a group of art interns and struggling independent gallery owners -- compared themselves to the likes of Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda several times during last night's series premiere. But the reality is much different. They're more like Girls' Hannah Horvath in that show's premiere episode, before her parents cut her off financially: spoiled, unskilled, and lazy, unsure how they'll achieve their dreams of art world stardom but certain they'll do it somehow.
Is it easy to hate on these privileged women? Oh hell yeah. But a few of the girls of Gallery Girls have compelled us to keep watching -- especially Miami's own Liz Margulies.
The show opens, and we're introduced to its cast. Angela says she grew up watching Sex and the City, and always wanted to live Carrie's life. Okay, there's problem number one. Where were your parents while you were watching a show about women getting laid during your formative youth? We grew up watching The Wonder Years, and all we ever wanted to be was Winnie Cooper.
We meet Angela at Milk Studios, where she's posing in various states of undress for fashion photographer David Schulze, who cheers her on as he's shooting by saying what sounds like, "that's so incredibly Asian!" Angela is Asian, so that statement is technically accurate, but still a weird compliment. Thanks for noticing, white guy!
Angela says she's a model and a waitress but what she really wants to do is be a photographer. Her parents are doctors and don't approve of her New York City lifestyle. We're sure they'll change their minds once they get to watch her flashing her boobs at photographers on national television.
Next, we meet Kerri, who's moving into her new apartment in Greenwich Village with her mom, who looks like every Midwestern mom you've ever met. Mom wears a bulky sweater over a turtleneck and light wash jeans, dyed blonde hair, and her name is Jean Lisa, so you know that a) she's adorable and b) probably makes a killer meatloaf. Kerri's leaving her job as a personal concierge to intern in the art world. But can we get a spin-off about Jean Lisa?
And then there's Amy, aka Amy Poliakoff, a Miami girl living on the Upper East Side on her parents' dime, and interning for free. She wants to make it big in the art world, which is going to be difficult if she's going to wear dresses with giant bows on their chests all the time. She takes a bubble bath as a voice-over explains why she lives on the Upper East Side: it's safe, it's clean, and there are lots of cute boys in sweater vests. And here we thought Mama Jean Lisa would be the whitest person we'd see on this show.
On the Lower East Side, we meet Claudia and Chantal, two Brooklyn girls are preparing to open their own gallery/boutique, End of Century. Claudia very seriously says that working in a big gallery is "not my jam," probably because all the other employees at big galleries laugh at you when you use phrases like "not my jam."
But we can't spend too much time on Claudia right now, because there's Chantal, and ... wow. Imagine if Haley Dunphy from Modern Family decided she wanted to move to Brooklyn and transform herself into Rooney Mara. Also, her voice sounds like a very stoned Joanna Newsom.
As Claudia cleans paint off of their gallery floor, Chantal picks up various clothing items and talks about how much she loves them, which is of course an essential part of preparing to open your own store. Claudia handles the booking and managing of the gallery, Chantal says, while she and another business partner handle merchandise and working with designers. Oh, you just know this is going to hell so fast.
Next up: Liz, aka Liz Margulies, aka daughter of prominent Miami art collector Martin Margulies, who cops to being a brat in her younger years and living off of her father. "Everyone has their own path in life, and this is my path," she says, justifying her lifestyle. She's an intern at Eli Klein Fine Art, a job she got through her father, Martin Margulies, a prominent Miami art collector. Her boss can't force her to do too much, she says, because she'll tell her father, prominent Miami art collector Martin Margulies, and then prominent Miami art collector Martin Margulies, who is her father, wouldn't want to buy pieces for his prominent Miami art collection from her boss anymore. Oh, by the way, you knew her father is Martin Margulies, right?
Maggie, a trust fund kid who also worked for Eli Klein, was also inspired by Sex and the City. She says she's more of a Charlotte, which is why she's drawn to gallery work. You'd think ideally you'd be drawn to working in art because you love art, but okay. Maggie also briefly wins our hearts with this quote: "I thought I had a great resume until I actually graduated from college ... you find out that everybody has the same resume you do." Maybe we can relate to a character on this show after all.
Then she says she took a break from interning, and we quickly come to realize that this "break" entailed just not showing up for work for a couple weeks. Scratch that thing we said about her relatability.
The whole gang meets up for the first time at Eli Klein's art opening. Liz brings her father, Martin Margulies, who is something of a major player in the art world if you haven't heard. She spends her time working the crowd, though, and it seems like her life in Miami's art scene prepared her well for events like these. She introduces herself to people and seems genuinely gracious. After all the trash talking Amy did about her last week, we were kind of expecting her to be awful. But we were wrong. As the episode went on, Liz became the person we looked to for a realistic, honest reaction to the stupid drama happening all over the place.
Maggie's also there, angling to get her internship back. Amy shows up to kiss some ass, telling everyone how pretty they are, and Kerri's looking around to make some business connections. Claudia, Chantal, and Angela, aka the wicked witches of Brooklyn, show up mainly to sneer at how bright and shiny and un-hip everyone and everything is there. Liz greets them, and they respond by mocking her to her face, asking her if she's from Orange County. Liz says she lived there for three years, which is enough for the witches to sneer at her for the rest of the night. Angela says she lived in the OC and "the last thing I want to do is surround myself with that type of girl." In which case, maybe you should be nice to Liz, because SHE'S FROM MIAMI.
There's also this weird interlude where Maggie recalls attending a party at Chantals where everyone did "slap shots," which are basically shots of booze that end with getting slapped across the face. "What is the appeal of slapping someone in the face after you take a shot? It's because they're from Brooklyn," Maggie rationalizes. So be warned, ye Brooklyn tourists: Accept shots from no man, lest ye be face-slapped.
The witches ditch out on the after-opening dinner -- "I have to think about my image," Chantal explains -- while Liz, Maggie, and Amy sit down to eat together. Maggie and Liz hit it off while Amy gets roaring drunk, claims she slept with Eli Klein, and generally embarrasses herself. Liz, who says she's known Amy since they were kids, looks like she's watched this scenario play itself out more than once. Hey, every Bravo reality show needs at least one drunken trainwreck, right?
The next day, Angela meets with David to review her photos. Boobs. Facepaint. More boobs. He wants to call their dinner a date, but she says they're "too cool" to use that term. Oh god, yes, you are so insufferably cool and incapable of caring about anything at all. Yawn.
Kerri gets hired at Amy's art internship. Amy feels intimidated, which she expresses maturely by noting that Kerri's clothing makes her look like she just came from the nightclub. Double yawn.
Meanwhile, Claudia and Chantal are fighting about money as their gallery opening approaches. Claudia's family loaned them $15,000 to open the space, and she's concerned they're blowing through it too fast. Chantal refuses to put down her phone to talk to Claudia about it, though, because she's "coordinating, like, 40 people," which is probably hipster-speak for "tweeting about this amazing designer you've never heard of." Claudia gets upset and storms out, and yeah, this is not going to end well for her.
Finally, the End of Century opening day arrives. Angela dons a lace jumpsuit and pasties and rushes out the door, explaining that "my friends say I dress a little high-concept." Yup.
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At the opening, Claudia acts like a grown-up, keeping things organized and worrying about getting busted by the cops. Chantal gets falling-down drunk, because she's so relaxed and together and such a unique spirit. Liz and Maggie arrive with their boyfriends in tow, and the Brooklynites basically ignore them until they go away. That's the entrepreneurial spirit, ladies! Claudia imagines the Manhattan boyfriends spotting each other in the gym and saying "brah" a lot, but then points out that they could eat the Brooklyn boyfriends for a snack. Don't even pretend, Claudia. We know you'd like a side of that beef.
And so ends the first episode of Gallery Girls. Coming soon: Kerri's awed by money! Eli and Maggie maybe had sex once! Angela's a "fucking maneater"! Amy's a hot mess! Liz keeps it real! They all go to Miami! Yeah, we'll be watching.