Why New York Makes the Best Reality-Show Stars

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Still from The Bedford Stop's "How To Brunch in Williamsburg."

One classic New York dream goes something like this: You move to the city, achieve something notable, and earn the adoration of the world. The advent of reality TV, though, changed this process radically, allowing people to become famous not for some great achievement but simply by striving to become famous. This might be why New Yorkers have proved so good at reality TV, from Real Housewife turned mogul Bethenny Frankel to mogul turned Real Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. In 2015, to the canon was added The Bedford Stop, a web-distributed series of episodes of … something. 

Each sub-six-minute episode is a documentary-ish look at four young women who recently moved to Williamsburg “to pursue their dreams”: Sarah (“The boy-crazy one”), Olena (“You never know what will come out of her mouth”), Melissa (“We never know where she is”), and Alex (“The one who makes sure everyone gets home”). From these initial descriptions, you might think these women sound less like a bunch of dreamers than a group of institutionalized individuals visiting the city on a day pass.

The online reaction wasn’t kind: “The Worst People in Williamsburg Made a Reality Show,” read one headline on Patch. And it’s true that nothing much happens to them. They go to brunch and look at Tinder and drink and dress up for Halloween. But to focus on that — the overwhelming, even maddening pointlessness of the enterprise — is to miss the show’s ingenious innovation. If previous reality-TV stars boldly eliminated the need for any sort of achievement, The Bedford Stop further streamlines the process by eliminating the need for reality TV itself. It’s just four women with a cameraman and the unshakable confidence that their lives are special and enthralling. Being seen and celebrated for pursuing their dreams is, in fact, the very dream they’ve come here to pursue.  It’s the New Yorkiest show ever made. 

*This article appears in the December 14, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.