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Bravo’s One Season Wonder ‘NYC Prep’ Is Back and Creepier Than Ever

By Emma Chance | TV | April 17, 2024 |

By Emma Chance | TV | April 17, 2024 |


The Bravo/Peacock partnership continues to bless us. This week, a handful of the best, trashiest OG Bravo reality shows dropped on the streaming service, including Don’t Be Tardy, Shahs of Sunset, Tabitha Takes Over, The Rachel Zoe Project, and one season wonders The Real Housewives of D.C. and NYC Prep. That last one is what we’re here to talk about.

The year was 2009: The Hills proved there was an appetite amongst teens and tweens for reality shows that reflected their young lives and ambitions (if a little glitzier), and Gossip Girl started a frenzy for a peek into the lives of the privileged children of the 1% haunting the hallowed halls of Upper East Side high schools by day and stomping the streets of lower Manhattan in designer booties and dramatic headbands by night. Enter NYC Prep, a reality show following six high schoolers in New York City as they juggle their academic and social lives, produced by a then scrappy upstart Andy Cohen.

NYC Prep took a very literal approach to the Gossip Girl thing. There was Jessie, the Serena Van Der Woodsen-esque blonde fashion intern wannabe; Camille, the “bitchy” brunette Blair Waldorf type with a penchant for eccentric accessories; P.C., the rich and reckless but sensitive-of-soul Chuck Bass lookalike; Sebastian, the Nate Archibald style, swooshy-haired, bilingual playboy; and of course Taylor, the Jenny Humphrey public school blow-in with a quirky personality who all the boys can’t help but crush on. And there was another girl, Kelli, who I guess has to be Georgina Sparks, but she was boring so I don’t care to come up with a comparison.

The show is like the very early Housewives seasons in that it’s clear these people barely know each other and don’t care much for each other at all, and yet here they are hosting dinner parties and “clubbing” and talking about “hooking up.” If you did a drinking game where you took a shot every time someone said the phrase “hooking up” you would be the drunkest you’ve ever been. And, oh yeah, they’re all 15-18 years old.

Therein lies the problem with NYC Prep. With other reality shows, viewers don’t feel bad about the wealthy, problematic people making fools of themselves because they’re grown adults and they signed a contract. But these kids were all underage, so everything that happens takes on a tone of yucky exploitation. Not that anything particularly scandalous happens—yes, there’s the “hooking up” but all we ever see is a few chaste make-outs, and it’s tragically clear that these kids weren’t doing much worse when cameras were down. There are allusions to heavy drinking and partying and such, but the only time it’s seen is when the one 18-year-old goes to Cancun and drinks some vodka at a club—the same 18-year-old who calls his female friends the c-word, throws fits at fashion shows when he isn’t seated in the front row, and has his therapy sessions recorded, in which he confesses that high schoolers do nothing but hook up and betray each other, calling it the “long road to Fuckville.”

The rest of the kids committed nothing worse than social suicide by simply acting like embarrassing children, but the rerelease of the show in a post Quiet on Set world is calling the ethics of the whole thing into question. One of the cast members, Sebastian, who went on to intern at Watch What Happens Live!, told The Daily Beast in 2017 that he and the others “all sort of knew that we were going to be playing a specific character” but said producers were “never malicious,” though he admitted to being “ignorant” because, you know, he was a child. Camille, who referred to herself as “bitchy” for having high dating standards and invited people to parties because being seen with them would be good for her “social status,” was allegedly “exiled” from the elite prep school she attended when the show caused outrage amongst parents and faculty.

In 2021 Andy Cohen was asked on WWHL if they’d ever remake the show with a new generation of kids.

“It was incredibly difficult to shoot that show. I’m surprised we even got one season out of it. It was very challenging,” he said, because, just to remind you one more time: these were children, so, like, legal stuff.

The NYC Prep kids have mostly kept off the internet and out of the spotlight since the show that probably ruined their lives a little bit (except the generationally rich ones who are probably fine), but Camille is active on Instagram, where her bio reads, “That girl from that thing that got 13% on rotten tomatoes.” Yesterday, she posted this story with a link to an article about the show:


So, sounds like she’s ready for some more exploitation as an adult?