Having lived in New York for five years, I regularly came across articles and rants about the downfall of cool and blanket of corniness that took over the neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. If you live in New York, it is wildfire fact that Williamsburg is the place you love to hate but would secretly live if you could. During the early 2000s, Williamsburg evolved into the beating heart of a new Brooklyn (youth) era, and this was remarkably true for people in their 20s. With its close ties to Lower Manhattan, the Lower East Side, and Soho, the effect of Williamsburg was also the backdrop of (truly awesome) bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Strokes,and a DIY movement that in general had begun to sweep across the America. Against the MTV-produced original Gossip Girl world of their Upper East Side reality series Rich Girls, by 2004 the hipster lifestyle was chiefly led by Williamsburg before ‘hipster’ became an offensive word (‘Hipster’ was the former ‘millennial.’)
I remember when Williamsburg was hot, and this was when Manhattan was still hot. Its nightlife influence still mattered (I never even went to the Beatrice Inn and I miss it) and many of its beloved establishments like Benny’s Burritos by Alphabet City and Yaffa Cafe, and Lit Lounge near St. Marks and 5 Pointz in Queens, were all still here. (Pour one out for each of them). The closest I got to the essence of Williamsburg coolness was when I made the trip there to check out a holiday party hosted by deceased cool girl magazine Missbehave at the also defunct K&M Bar in 2008. DJ Radio Rose was on the 1 and 2s, I had one beer and entertained the bartender that I was an out-of-towner. I remember really liking what I experienced of Williamsburg. But even I felt the beginning of the end when the next season of The Real World took place in Red Hook (my sentiment of the season was the equivalent of this quote from Sex and The City: “Hurry up and go [to that little Italian bistro] before the Times destroys it with a rave.” Frolic about in Williamsburg before MTV declares it “next.”) When GIRLS debuted on HBO in 2012, with its disturbingly accurate depiction of a whitewashed BK, the legacy of ‘Williamsburg’ had dwindled into a manicured haven of just too much gentrification.A recent gag on The Jimmy Kimmel Show totally made fun of the current artisanal way of life in Brooklyn. The skit is pure 14K.
This all brings us to The Bedford Stop, a reality web series that allegedly follows four (Caucasian) young women, living by Bedford Avenue, the core of Williamsburg culture and their everyday problems. And wait ’til you hear what these problems are.
The first webisode was uploaded November 2014, but it’s just since yesterday, in 2015, that The Bedford Stop gained some viewership and online media attention. Most NY-based publications used it to their advantage as another cheesefest broadcasting of pressed juice only or wigga adapting, rainbow gothic White people that’s become of Williamsburg, once the home of the Domino Sugar Factory. (Though I do find it hilarious that in itself, it’s so trendy of NY mags to make fun of Wiliamsburg, yet I can confirm that many an editor and writer live there or in the vicinity of it. Artisanal guilt?)
I was intrigued by the posts I saw. And maybe it’s the off-and-on feeling of “I miss New York” inside of me, but despite already knowing what I was going to watch, I pressed play on the webisode of “Tinder Me Softly.” Already I was pissed because Tinder is the enemy.
Gawd, I’m sorry but I found The Bedford Stop so amusing! I chose to view it as a fictionalized series because it has to be! It is just feels like a parody. Like the first scene features Alex and Sarah talking about getting brunch (such a New York new classic pasttime that someone at the New York Times challenged that 20-somethings needed to get a life), then we see Olena and Melissa talking about going shopping as a cartoonized Lana Del Rey poster, next to a rip-out picture of her from Nylon hang on the wall. (I know because I bought that issue too. Shame!) At that point, I was just waiting for the camera to expose the Alexa Chung shrine. (These kids don’t know about the glory days of Chloe Sevigny. Or do they?)
And wait, wait, wait, waittttttt. Go back. That’s supossed to be Alex’s apartment? That condo with the sun shining past her thick black drapes? #MUSTBENICE
I officially decided it was a parody when at said brunch, there was mentioning of Charleston, a grungy, very well-liked bar and Sarah smirked that it was a “really classy first date” based off of Tinder and both was agreed that Tinder blew, and then the show cut to a scene of Olena having previously hired a Tinder photographer to take her default photo so she’ll have better chances of finding her future husband on the app, I stamped that this shit had a script. We’ve all seen multiple episodes of The Hills by now.
The one scene I did like was when the girls strolled to Monk, a real, dusty, musty vintage store and Alex admitted that vintage shopping was cute in theory but being the presence of it was not. I couldn’t agree more. I know there are so many terrific finds in these type of shops, but if enough space is not had and these stores just continue to cram merchandise that’s questionably sanitary to resell, most vintage shops just make me want to take a shower as soon as I walk out. A prime example of this is Search & Destroy, a mix of vintage and the new right smack on St. Marks. I’ve actually bought a really amazing coat from there that I still own. But lawd Jesus, that place gives me the heebie jeebies. It’s like being in Pig Pen’s college dorm.
But the gals lost me again with their references to Brooklyn Bowl to go hang out at (lemme guess. Questlove was DJing) and McCarren Hotel (ha! I worked there over the summer), and I was like, couldn’t they at least have name-dropped Videology? Too bad they missed out on Public Assembly and Death by Audio.
So with Uber being the last acknowledgment that this series was a reflection of the human needs of 2015 (I gagged at the line of: “It’s been 14 minutes. I should have more than 6 likes”. While I’m over here nursing the 4 I got), I enjoyed The Bedford Stop for what it was: a New York fantasy. While I was in NY, brunch was treated as a luxury because either those dog days of retail for the last two weeks finally paid off or you just got your first post-grad big-time job. And dating in NY? Chile, I wouldn’t touch a NY-based Tinder account with a ten-foot pole. You almost feel conditioned to date a co-worker eventually. But whether true or “fictionalized”, there were some truths in the scenarios. Like Alex taking a selfie at Cafe Colette while waiting for Sarah? I’ve taking selfies in public aplenty. I’m guilty.
So if you’re bored watch The Bedford Stop for complete entertainment purposes. But I can confirm for you that this is not an everyday reality for everyone in New York, let alone Brooklyn. And as you give into the urge, I will continue to wonder “what the hell happened” *Rosario Dawson in her Ruby voice in KIDS* to the borough that birthed Christopher Wallace.
Oh. And I used to live in the Bronx. #UPTOWNBABY