I'm proud to represent an area of Long Island that has been the location for many famous movies and TV shows, including Citizen Kane, Annie Hall, and the hit television series Boardwalk Empire. It's even the setting for The Great Gatsby. Shamefully, it's also now the location for a show whose characters are disgraceful, misleading, and fuel anti-Semitic stereotypes: Princesses: Long Island.
Full disclosure: I kind of enjoy reality TV. Storage Wars and Pawn Stars are among my guilty pleasures. So the idea of watching a reality show taking place in my own backyard wasn't so far-fetched. I knew little about the show before sitting down to watch the season premiere.
Much to my dismay, the characters on the show spewed gross generalizations about the living and dating habits of unmarried Jewish women. And the stereotyping didn't stop there. In the latest episode, the characters get together for a Shabbat dinner, an important tradition in the Jewish faith and culture. As a Jew, I can say with confidence that this dinner was exactly the opposite of what the sacred Sabbath dinner is supposed to be. But for those watching unfamiliar with the holy meaning of the Jewish Sabbath, it is shown in the worst way possible, with excessive drinking and fighting.
The characters do not shy away from any Jewish stereotypes and portray both Jews and Long Islanders in the most unflattering light possible. Yes, I know this is reality TV, but it's still unacceptable.
Jews have spent thousands of years trying to dispel stereotypes. We've been repeatedly persecuted by groups that hate based on falsities and gross generalizations. I've worked my whole life to combat this type of hatred. And I'm the product of grandparents who came to this country to escape the Pogroms of Russia and the hatred they faced simply because of their religion.
Therefore, I will not silently tolerate a show that paints Jewish women on Long Island with all-too-familiar and painful stereotypes -- money-hungry, superficial, Jewish-American Princesses. The characters on the show are welcome to live their lives however they may choose, but I don't want viewers of the show to think that they are, in any way, representative of Jews or Long Islanders.
I, for one, will not be spending my Sunday night watching Princesses: Long Island. Viewers should know that the show portrays the lives of the characters and is in no way representative of a religion, culture or geographic area. I hope that others will join me in deciding that this show is not the type of TV we should be supporting.
Follow Rep. Steve Israel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/repsteveisrael