"Brighton Beach" Nears "Jersey Shore"-Level Hype Before Shooting Begins

by BILLY GRAY · March 24, 2010

It's always a pleasure to see The New Yorker drop a Snooki reference. But to see the venerable magazine deploy the name in a piece on the planned Brighton Beach reality train wreck makes it even more exciting. What Stoli-soaked pleasures await us?-

Jersey Shore's The Situation introduced GTL and, well, "the situation" to the lexicon. And the series caused an uproar over the propriety of ancient ethnic slurs (guido, of course) not seen since the heyday of gangster rap and Pulp Fiction.  Clearly Brighton Beach has its work cut out for it. A few sayings hoping to become the next big catchphrase include "Russki" ("That's the Russian equivalent of Guido," explains producer Elina Miller) and "BB" (short for babushka). Then there's a "Rushlish" innovation like ‘Gde ti zaparkoval machinu?’ which approximates "parking" since Russian lacks that verb. I see that one spreading like wildfire.

Producers Miller and Alina Dizik hope to bring some Real World-style sham diversity to the party. Whereas all of MTV's guidos and guidettes conformed to a single Italian-American stereotype--fake and bake tans, mommy issues, a fondness for baked ziti--Brighton Beach casting calls look for people who display the country's religious diversity and (often deadly!) ethnic and regional disparities.

Says Lauren Collins:

"They are looking for certain archetypes: 'a very straightforward ethnic Russian who’s proud of the motherland,' a Russian Jew, someone from the Caucasus. 'We want to, in some way, create a microcosm of the former Soviet Union in the house.'"

I'll check out the show whether or not this Soviet rainbow pans out. Brighton Beach seared itself into my memory last fall. I was late for an oceanfront wedding and lost on the boardwalk. Already frazzled, the sight of an EMS crew rolling an old man wearing only a pair of swimming trunks away on a gurney--the staccato of gurney wheels slapping against a boardwalk's wood slabs really compounds the shock of witnessing an EMS rescue, by the way--nearly put me over the edge. The walk through a freshly police-taped murder scene across the street from the bride and groom's apartment also did Neil Simon proud. Luckily, two chain-smoking Russki octogenarians picked me up in a cab. Deliverance from Brighton and to the wedding reception in sleepy Sheepshead Bay next door. (Although not before I jumped out of the car early, fearing abduction after the driver locked all the doors and went on a rant about Iraq and a masseuse who wouldn't give him a happy ending.)

Reality shows might be scripted, but you can't write that stuff.

[Photos Courtesy of Seth Kushner/Brooklynites and Monica Ruzansky NYMag]