Television

Gen-Y Yuppies

The hapless romantics of One Ocean View.

Listen to the MP3 audio version of this story here, or sign up for Slate’s free daily podcast on iTunes.

One Ocean View cast members. Click image to expand.
One Ocean View cast members

Last night’s premiere of One Ocean View (ABC, Mondays at 10 p.m. ET) offered a minor anthropological revelation. The producers of this dog-days reality show, The Real World’s Jonathan Murray and Joey Carson, have herded 11 single adults onto New York’s Fire Island and set them upon a beach house equipped with a generous supply of lobster bibs and styling products. Preferred topics of discussion include self-image and hooking up—par for the course in any show featuring slabs of metrosexual meat and the girls who go for that kind of thing.

But the participants, generally 26 or 27 years old, are professionals on the path to power, many with jobs in finance. At least one, Usman, whose ideal woman is a Ford model “straight off the boat” from the former Soviet Union, has a MySpace page. The soundtrack prominently features the glamorous and generic whines of the band Dashboard Confessional—a musical analog to the overall sense of entitlement the housemates emit. In short, 1OV is a primer on an exciting and offensive new social type: the Gen-Y Yuppie.

Earlier this year, the New York Observer’s Jason Horowitz wrote a piece titled “City Girl Squawk,” examining a soul-curdling affect of voice increasingly practiced among spoiled young urbanites. His archetypal squawker was “attractive but not pretty, stringy but not skinny, smart but not all that intelligent.” The chicks on this show are those chicks. In addition to working at a hedge fund, Carisa is “a barmaid at one of the most popular bars in Hoboken,” a New Jersey city I’d previously assumed to be cool. Joining Carisa in the salon-blonde division (as distinct from the brunettes-with-highlights) is Heather, a B2B sales manager and also a recent Playboy model, though one eager to define herself against the pack: “There are a lot of bimbos, as I call them, out there,” she says in an audition interview. Whichever one of them proclaims to be “free and open to anything that comes my way,” speaks for the whole group.

The dudes, all of whom must be chest-waxers, are less distinguishable yet. If pressed, I might be able to sort out whether it’s John who’s the health club owner and K.J. and who’s the “inter-dealer broker,” or vice versa, but there’s no telling what an “inter” is. It’s easier to remember Zach, the corporate headhunter, because he’s accompanied by his best friend/ex-girlfriend, Lauren. Last night, they discussed the complications of their newfound booty-calling status. When someone asked, “Can’t you guys see you’re headed for a train wreck?” Zach’s brainless, goopy-lipped expression replied in the negative.

Indeed, this group doesn’t do much introspecting, unless you count Usman’s daily affirmation, “Every day is the best day of my life because I know I’m better looking from the night before.” Will it work to call that utterance a Gen-Y Yuppie idea? It’s got a certain righteous egotism and adolescent vanity and lazy superiority, and it’s of a piece with the sexual attitudes espoused by the cast of 1OV, which amount to instinctive consumerism. The bright side of all this, of course, is that everybody’s got an awesome tan.