Video: New Reality Show Shows Off Cincinnati

I have mixed feelings about this new reality show based on young, single women living near downtown Cincinnati.

Queen City episode 1 “The Dress” from Queen City on Vimeo.

One one hand, this type of reality TV show — sort of a “The Hills” ripoff without the drama — probably wouldn’t have even been possible in Cincinnati about a decade ago. The young protagonists live in modern condos in the revitalized Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. They hang out at craft breweries and attend fashion shows.

On the other hand, I couldn’t shake off this feeling of depression after I watched it. Gawker called it, get ready for it Cincy boosters, “a reality show about four boring single women and their boring struggle to balance their boring lives in a boring southern Ohio city.”

Clearly Cincinnati is trying to say, we are young and hip. We are a national player. Except — I hate to say it — the show just lacks the intrigue of of Atlanta’s fabulously wealthy athlete’s wives or even the escapist superficiality of spoiled Laguna Beach teenagers jetting off to some Caribbean island on a moment’s notice.

Gawker has a point, in my opinion. The show’s fault is that these women’s lives are too ordinary to warrant this level of scrutiny. Only one of them has a reality TV personality, and by that I mean crazy (see if you can guess which one I mean). Also there is a suspicious lack of hot tub sex, which is the foundation for any respectable reality show of this type (There isn’t even a hot tub in it at all!). Instead of the city coming off as cosmopolitan — the women spend most of the episode helping plan the city’s “Fashion Week” — the whole thing comes across as banal and second-rate.

I’m afraid to say it, but I think this is a classic case of a Rust Belt city pretending to be something that it’s not. The Anthony Bordain show about Cleveland celebrated its grittiness. A show that really highlighted what’s unique about Cincinnati, IMO, would have followed around some ambitious DAAP students trying to survive their first year, or the most hard-core Bengals fans.

Because Over-the-Rhine is still a neighborhood in transition, it might have been interesting to examine that effect on young urban-dwellers. Is there a culture clash going on? Who are the champions of redevelopment and how is that going? What are the rewards and drawbacks of this relatively new lifestyle in this middle-American city? In my opinion, that would be more interesting than the sterilized version of Cincinnati that is presented.

Since it will only run on local television, maybe it will succeed in helping glamorize urban living locally. But as a national marketing campaign for the city, I’d say it’s not too effective.

That’s just my opinion. What do you guys think?


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