Post-crash New York City has become a symbol of spiritual emptiness, writes Vanessa Grigoriadis for New York magazine. NYC Prep is the latest reality show to exploit this symbolism, allowing the rest of America to watch Manhattan’s lost souls—this time, teenagers—pursue decadence and social standing. In the past, "New York’s bright lights seemed almost tasteful compared with those on the other coast;" in the Gossip Girl world, it's become "a Louis XIV court, making nothing, obsessed with its own intrigue, on its way out."
But is Manhattan as nasty as this reality show and its older sibling and model, Real Housewives of New York City, make it seem? “As with most series of this genre, the show is ‘reality’ in name only,” wrote one school head, and a parent says, “These producers completely manipulated these kids, feeding them lines and telling them to insult each other.” The show certainly paints an ugly picture: “Everyone has sex with each other and betrays each other,” says one character. “All kids in New York have a therapist or psychopharmacologist.”