Brooklyn Kinda Love: a new Playboy TV show signals the end of Brooklyn.

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Jan. 14 2011 1:42 PM

Brooklyn Kinda Love

A new Playboy TV show represents the long-awaited end of "Brooklyn."

Playboy TV and the 'Brooklyn Kinda Love' panel. Click image to expand.
A Brooklyn Kinda Love panel
"Brooklyn Kinda Love."

A couple months ago, we got the news that Playboy TV is undergoing an overhaul, surely much needed, as it was news itself that Playboy TV had not been hauled off to the dustheap of history. Despite the brand's diminished relevance, despite the countless new means of stoking and satisfying the American libido, the channel has endured, sort of. A scan of promotional material indicates that its flagship show has recently been Badass!—a docu-series that unflinchingly explores the emotional lives of glamour-model adventure-junkies. Now, it seems, those vivacious ladies will have to find a new venue for their topless dune-buggy rides. Hopping forth from their corporate warren, Playboy executives gave the scoop to the New York Times' Brooks Barnes: Guided by focus groups, they are "shifting from traditional pornography toward a higher-quality, female-friendly slate of reality shows. Just as Nickelodeon has its Nick at Nite, Playboy TV will call this block of shows TV for 2." It is pay-cable smut you can watch with your wife, provided that you can drag her away from watching a free download of Sasha Grey in Face Invaders 4. The first TV-for-two offering is Brooklyn Kinda Love (Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET), wherein four New York City couples open their homes and their thighs to the audience. The subjects give us too much information about their relationships, and they conduct those relationships with too much drama, and they have sexual intercourse on videotape. As produced by the creators of Taxicab Confessions—that classic text of late-night voyeurism— Brooklyn Kinda Love is possibly the final stroke in TV overexposure. For Brooklyn, I mean. Whether the show represents a new level of reality-TV exhibitionism is debatable, and there are certainly more barrel bottoms where it came from, but its appearance is possibly a signal that Brooklyn is finally overexposed, played out, and fatally unfashionable. My first thought on hearing the title was to hope that maybe, consequently, there will no longer be quite such a wait for dinner at Prime Meats. My second thought was to fret about the title, which seems reductively to propose that there is but one Brooklyn kind of love, where my 2.5 million fellow citizens know otherwise. There is the Fort Greene kind of love, ravishingly practiced by latter-day Nola Darlings, and there is the Borough Park sort that involves wriggling out of a tallit katan. There has been the Flatbush kind of love that ends in tears of joy after a day game at Ebbets Fields, and there has been the Williamsburg kind that ends in sniffles after a night at Cokie's. All too many of us are distressingly familiar with the Boerum Hill kind of love (contiguous with a back-flap, author-bio, he-lives-in-Brooklyn kind of self-love) practiced by journalists clammily adoring their own bylines. The first two episodes of this series are meager with genuine Kings County flavor. With few exceptions, the camera's interest in the borough is limited to the means of leaving it, and locals will instantly recognize the thematic good sense of this scheme. The behavior of the cast regularly presents compelling reasons to escape via the first exit available—to bolt on to the L at Bedford or pick up the BQE at Tillary or escape across the bridge on foot or board a water taxi and drown oneself by leaping from it. The castmates are not good ambassadors, it should be obvious: If they were attractive and intelligent, then they wouldn't be working for Playboy but instead pursing entrepreneurial careers in amateur porn. The lovers most readily readable as Brooklyn types are Rhiannon and Vinny, and their vision of the place involves an idle romance with the ghosts of Al Capone and John Gotti, or so you might think when admiring the brass knuckles adorning their hearth. Here they are infesting the Coney Island Boardwalk, she covered in a shiny bikini and shinier acne, he a hollow-cheeked goon skulking under a Yankees cap. Later, a brief night-vision-ish clip of their lovemaking showcases the hairs of Vinny's gluteal cleft while Rhiannon makes like Kobayashi in Nathan's Fourth of July contest. But there is strife. He is peeved that she's always xonked on Xanax, and she worries that he's untrue: "When I fall asleep, you fuckin' Facebook your ex-girlfriend?!"Runners up for Brooklynness—and winners of the Least Uncongenial award—are Bek and Erin, who share the kind of love that flourishes at Ginger's in Park Slope. They've been an item for a year now, and Erin is encouraging butch Bek to make good on a promise to go get a Brazilian bikini wax. It feels necessary to be clear here: Erin is a generous lover, and her visual pleasure is not her primary goal. Rather, she promises that Bek herself will derive greater tactile pleasure from lovemaking if she rezones her Bushwick or edits her Grizzly Bear mix or however you want to put it. Elsewhere, Braniff and Frances alternate among household drudgery, dumb arguments, and his delicate logistical efforts to get a three-way going. Perhaps, at the cinema or in eighth-grade, you have witnessed one person pass a wad of bubble gum into the mouth of another while sharing a deep kiss. When Braniff and Frances go out on a double date, much the same thing happens with a spoonful of flan. Last and most joyless, there are pathetic Nikki and lethargic Chris, who got here from Toledo a year ago and have accomplished nothing since. Same routine: They relate; they talk about their relationship; they conduct sexual relations. We even catch some glimpses of Nikki's hand inspecting the vertical massing of Chris's little Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower. To be clear: Brooklyn Kind of Love is plenty explicit, but it is not hardcore. I'm trying to say that the F train does to go to Avenue X but we never see anyone spill Peter Luger's Old Fashioned Sauce.

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Troy Patterson is Slate's writer at large and writes the Gentleman Scholar column.

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