Reality Tv We Can Relate To: The Case For 'Baltimore Prep'

July 12, 2009|By Linley Taber

In recent years, cities and regions all over the country have played host to reality television shows. While most of these are based in New York and Los Angeles, Baltimore's nearest neighbor is getting in on the act. Recently, camera crews descended on DuPont Circle to begin filming The Real World: Washington, D.C.; meanwhile, the Lifetime Channel is preparing for the fall debut of Blonde Charity Mafia, following three young Washingtonians as they navigate the city's social scene.

As a Baltimore native and reality TV addict, I believe my hometown is ready for its very own reality series. After the recent premiere of NYC Prep, which features the "real" lives of Manhattan private-schoolers, I realized how much better this show would be if it were set in Baltimore. Come to think of it, our city's unique lacrosse-obsessed prep culture is the stuff reality television dreams are made of. Here's why:

1. The drama is guaranteed. During my time in an ultra-Southern sorority and subsequent stint in New York's fashion industry, I never saw the histrionics that I witnessed in my years at one of Baltimore's all-girls schools. Whether the young ladies are working themselves into tizzies over the Boys' Latin boys or a spot at the handful of elite colleges that Ruxton and Guilford parents deem acceptable, emotions are always running high.

2. The competition is fierce. Long regarded as the nation's premier league for high school lacrosse, the area's collection of prep schools is famous for top-notch athletic talent and passionately devoted fans. There's no more TV-worthy spectacle than the meeting of two powerhouse teams complete with Lilly Pulitzer-clad girlfriends screaming on the sidelines.

3. Two words: the hair. Call it what you will - the "lax mullet," the "lacrosse shag," "the Balti," "the flow" - the infamous hairstyle favored by Gilman, St. Paul's and Boys' Latin boys is fascinating, hilarious, and not just a little ridiculous. Entertainment at its best!

4. Did we mention the seersucker? Forget ultra-trendy fashion to shows like The City and The Hills. Baltimore prepsters have a unique look all their own. Where else do guys show up for prom in tuxedo jackets and seersucker shorts? As for the pastel-obsessed girls, I can already envision a scene at South Moon Under, the holy grail of sundress shopping.

5. The boys are heartthrobs. I'm not just saying this because I dated one for many years (and have been enamored of a few others). While lacrosse players are a notoriously hot crew, even the region's non-athletes possess a Charm City charm that would endear them to female fans across the country.

6. Just add crabs. What do the Hunt Cup, Preakness, Bachelors Cotillon, Natty Boh-soaked crab feasts and the occasional Ocean City house party have in common? They are the distinctive stomping grounds of the area's prep school students. And there's nothing to up the ante of a dramatic reality show scene like the addition of crustaceans and cheap beer.

7. The people are great. For all their absurdly preppy traditions and seemingly elite status, the kids who attend Baltimore's private schools are a decidedly down-to-earth bunch. Not spoiled rotten or filthy-rich like their NYC counterparts, the students come from diverse backgrounds and are genuinely good-hearted, well-balanced kids. Wouldn't it be nice, for a change, to see that on TV?

Linley Taber graduated from The Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore. She is now a writer in New York City. Her e-mail is linley.taber@gmail.com.

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