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Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mean Girls at 17

MTV's latest offering of Reality TV crack is the program Miss Seventeen. The premise is this: stick a bunch of girls in a posh apartment, make them do various teen magazine publishing related tasks, every week eliminate one of them, and whoever is left over gets a spot on the cover of Seventeen Magazine and an internship there. So far, the show has gathered a menagerie of girls of varying levels of ambitiousness, attractiveness, self-centeredness and well-spokeness and set them in a very confined environment while expecting them to display unrealistic levels of solidarity and diplomacy. Not surprisingly, tension has been an issue. Stick a bunch of teenaged girls in any situation and expect competitiveness and insecurity to rule the roost, add cameras and you've created just enough drama to make for your average reality tv program. The details of the conflict aren't significant enough to detail, save for last night's episode.

Last night, Seventeen editor Atoosa Rubenstein, the magazine's youngish editor and the woman holding all the strings on this show invited all the girls to her house in the Hamptons. But before they were allowed on the obligatory "fun outing" of the trip, they were confronted with a bizarre exercise in "keeping one another honest", or as it turned out, cutting one another down and causing further riffs among an already fragmented group. She asked the girls to answer such rediculously divisive questions as "who in this group is the least real?" and "who of these girls would you be the least likely to be friends with?" Hello? What hath this to do with magazine publishing? These chicks are already feeling the pressure of competition, what good does it do to turn the series into a Mean Girls-style slug fest? As one could predict, everyone ganged up on one person, self-possessed Julie, whose only fault as far as I can tell is that she acts and looks ten years older than everyone else in the house. Julie is the type of girl who thinks before she talks and who considers the impact of her words. Not desirable traits in a reality-tv whore, but great skills for the real world. Julie of course is hurt, believes that the wrath of her competitors will cause her to be booted from the show. But her worrying is for naught, and it turns out it was all a ploy to create a compelling narrative arc. Julie is spared and nobody goes home.

Again I ask, what does this have to do with magazine publishing? Why is this show reducing the quest for what is arguably a rather prestigious summer job into a battle of who can be the snottiest? Teen magazines already pit girls against one another with their lame wear-juicy-track-suits-to-get-the-guys articles. But why stake professional opporunities on such a mentality?

2 Comments:

Blogger Michael J. West said...

Because it's television.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the Hey Pretty birthday party? I was out of town... :(

- DS

6:43 PM  

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