Before “Jersey Shore,” the thought of yet another reality show about self-absorbed, irritating poseurs would have sounded tedious at best, but CW clearly thinks there’s room for at least one more. Enter “High Society,” a half-hour program about Manhattan’s club-hopping set that appears to hate its “characters” every bit as much as it hopes viewers will. The show is ostensibly about recently separated Tinsley Mortimer, a pretty blonde who actually married a wealthy guy named “Topper.” But the breakout stars in success are her loathsome friends, billed as a “Page Six scandal boy” and a “trust-fund partier.”
Operating on Bravo and MTV’s turf, “Society” wants to be “Sex and the City” on the cheap, but every beat of the first two episodes is as subtle as a poke (or in one case, an errantly thrown glass of whiskey) in the eye. Mostly, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wish this generation’s parents had practiced birth control more aggressively.
Mortimer’s posse — glamorously intro’ed in the credits as if this were a shampoo commercial — includes the aforementioned “scandal boy” Paul Johnson Calderon (remarkably, full names are used), who dutifully recites the Official Reality Asshole Bill of Rights near the outset, proclaiming, “I do what I want when I want. If you don’t like it, peace.”
Not to be outdone is Jules Kirby, the aforementioned trust-fund diva, who announces, “I don’t have a censor button” and endeavorsto prove it by noting that she’s not friends with Jews, African-Americans or gays. In episode two, she verbally abuses what appears to be a Hispanic maid, who merely rolls her eyes.
Seldom has a series more blatantly telegraphed its intentions to be train-wreck TV, but you have to wonder at the message such fare sends to an audience of the young and wannabe famous. If bad behavior is a ticket to notoriety, really bad behavior is simply presented as a viable career and survival strategy because, hey, it’s New York, baby.
CW already has planted a flag in this niche dramatically with “Gossip Girl” and its Aaron Spelling revivals, but presenting it as “reality” — even with all the posturing and staging — adds a far more distasteful quality to the proceedings.
Posing aside, Jules and Paul are probably right about lacking a censor button, but even 2,500 miles away, I couldn’t find the “off” button fast enough.