Washington Heights

Creatively speaking, MTV's efforts to pass the baton from "Jersey Shore" to newer generations of reality soaps in different locales has gotten off to a rather rocky start -- and the year's barely a week old.

Creatively speaking, MTV’s efforts to pass the baton from “Jersey Shore” to newer generations of reality soaps in different locales has gotten off to a rather rocky start — and the year’s barely a week old. First there was “Buckwild,” the “don’t try this at home” mind-number about West Virginia louts, which premiered last week. And now the channel travels north to “Washington Heights,” a series that attempts to approximate the look and feel of an urban scripted serial, and winds up possessing all the depth and feeling of a beer commercial.

Focusing on a striving group of young friends — primarily of Dominican descent — in a diverse New York neighborhood, the program is heavily narrated by one of them, JP, an aspiring rapper who in the early going finds himself caught between two longtime pals, baseball-playing wannabe Jimmy (mumbling to the point of being subtitled) and brash but beautiful Leyna, who doesn’t like Jimmy’s girlfriend Eliza, yielding “drama” (or so they hope) and one highly promotable brawl.

“These ain’t the Hollywood Hills,” JP says at the outset. “We ain’t got much in our pockets, but we got big dreams.” And an apparent fondness for Dickensian cliches.

The concept of having mutual friends who don’t like each other is somehow completely new to JP and everyone else in their circle, which means throwing Jimmy/Eliza/Leyna together. The other characters, meanwhile, grapple with equally stale questions about professional yearning or unrequited crushes, with poet Frankie’s creative longing for Ludwin taking center stage in subsequent episodes.

Kicking off with back-to-back hours, the show consistently produces a “Who cares?” response. Even a sequence in which Jimmy takes Eliza to meet his incarcerated dad — which in theory should be an emotional home run — produces at best a bloop single.

MTV’s latest programming wave represents what amount to line extensions, albeit without the helpful adhesive of something like Bravo’s “Real Housewives” umbrella to connect and market them.

Admittedly, the network will never run out of twentysomethings willing to put their lives on camera, whatever the zip code. Yet when the result is as tepid as “Washington Heights,” the number of their peers eager to watch might well be another matter.

Popular on Variety

Washington Heights

MTV, Wed. Jan. 9, 10 p.m.

Production: Produced by Gigantic! Prods. Executive producers, Cheryl Horner Sirulnick, George McTeague, Patrick Reardon, Chris Linn, Shannon Fitzgerald, Christy Spitzer, Christina Lee, Beck Hickey, Craig Sloane, Jim Czarnecki; supervising producers, Meredith Fisher, Michelle Schiefen; producers, Jonathan Perez, Pedro Fera Pino, Nelson Noel Salcedo; story producers, Colleen Kluttz, Sheila Logan Savage.

Crew: Camera, Joe Gabriel, Glen Mordeci; editors, Molly McEwan, Ben States; music supervisor, Ricki Askin. 60 MIN.

More TV

  • THE BACHELORETTE - "The Bachelorette: Season

    'The Bachelor': ABC Announces Leading Man For Season 24

    ABC has cast its next leading man for Season 24 of “The Bachelor.” Peter Weber has officially been named the upcoming “Bachelor.” The announcement was made Tuesday night on ABC’s “Bachelor In Paradise” reunion special. Weber appeared on Season 15 of “The Bachelorette” with Hannah Brown, ultimately becoming the second runner-up. He was a fan-favorite [...]

  • SEAL TEAM stars David Boreanaz (left),

    Showrunner John Glenn Exits 'SEAL Team' at CBS

    CBS is cutting ties with “SEAL Team” showrunner John Glenn, Variety has confirmed. Glenn joined the show for its second season, which premiered in October of last year. Christopher Chulack, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly also executive produced. “Regarding ‘SEAL Team,’ I am proud of the work we did – and greatly enjoyed having the chance to [...]

  • NBC Campaign Aims to Reclaim Brand

    NBC Launches Campaign to Reclaim Brand Ownership of Hit Comedies (EXCLUSIVE)

    NBC is preparing a new salvo in the streaming-era TV branding wars. As audiences increasingly watch shows like “The Good Place” and “Superstore” on other platforms, the Peacock network has launched a new campaign to remind them that these are, first and foremost, NBC shows. And they’re even enlisting a real-life peacock to convey the [...]

  • Shane Gillis

    'SNL' Sought Conservative Appeal With Shane Gillis Hire

    “Saturday Night Live” was looking to shake things up with the casting of Shane Gillis — and it did, albeit unintentionally. According to sources, the long-running NBC comedy show and series mastermind Lorne Michaels were actively looking to cast a comedian for its new season who would appeal to more conservative viewers. This was meant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Netflix Announces Arsenio

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Announces Arsenio Hall's Comedy Special Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix announced the premiere date for Arsenio Hall’s comedy special and a “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” duo (among others) will guest star on “Elena of Avalor.” CASTING “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” stars Rachel Brosnahan and Tony Shalhoub, as well as Auli’i Cravalho (“Moana”), John Leguizamo (“When They See Us”), Taye Diggs (“All American”), Eugenio Derbez [...]

  • How 'Save Our Show' Campaigns Affect

    From 'The OA' to 'One Day at a Time': How 'Save Our Show' Campaigns Affect Network Interest

    Organized flash mobs and mounting billboards still may not save your favorite shows, as some fan campaigns are finding out. Following Netflix’s most recent decision to stand firm on its cancellation of “The OA,” the question remains, “what will save these shows?” When networks and streamers find that smaller favorites aren’t big cash cows, fans [...]

  • Afton WilliamsonABC All-Star Happy Hour, TCA

    Afton Williamson 'Rookie' Investigation: Studio Finds No 'Inappropriate' Workplace Behavior

    Updated: Former “The Rookie” star Afton Williamson has responded to Entertainment One’s (eOne) findings into her claims of racial discrimination and sexual harassment and assault on the ABC series. In an Instagram post Tuesday night, Williamson lamented “the lengths that were taken to Deceive, Lie, and Cover Up the Truth” following eOne’s statement. “It’s Heartbreaking [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content