Watch out, Kardashians. The world’s first reality webseries has arrived and it takes place in the ever-gentrifying neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
While The Bedford Stop hasn’t garnered the numbers to rival Kim’s 51 million Instagram followers just yet, it has made a huge splash. With a scathing writeup in The Muse, a short feature in the Style section of the New York Times, and countless pointed comments from their Internet audience, the series is poised to keep ruffling feathers.
But for all the criticism the show has received, the actual episodes go down smoothly. The sweeping camera work, upbeat soundtrack, and banal dialogue combine to make a saccharine cocktail. Life on The Bedford Stop seems a little too sweet, but it is strangely entertaining.
Like the girls of reality-show archetype The Hills, the stars of The Bedford Stop—Alex Sosner and Olena Yatsyuk—are pretty, young, and want to have fun. “We moved to Williamsburg to pursue our dreams and avoid reality,” Alex says in the pilot.
Alex and Olena always appear generally happy and vaguely discontent. Forever nonplussed by their options, whether on Tinder or in line for brunch, the duo offers, for better or worse, a very real portrait of the “new” Williamsburg.
“I don’t really watch reality TV regularly, but what I do like about it is it gives you a window into different worlds, cultures, and groups of peoples,” creator and producer Mikey Ortiz told the Daily Dot. “I’ve always been fascinated with the world and all its different people and cultures, and if someone can effectively bring that to your living room via a TV or laptop or smartphone, I think that’s awesome.”
The culture of The Bedford Stop, while easy to critique, is certainly specific. In the pilot, “Tinder Me Softly,” Olena visits a photographer friend to have her headshot taken for Tinder.
“I think I want to use it as like a hybrid Tinder-LinkedIn profile picture,” she says. When the photographer suggests her goals are more career-driven, Olena responds that she’s looking for a husband. “So I just have to be classier, you know?”
Moments like this are scattered throughout the episodes, and it’s hard to watch without pausing to wonder if this is actually brilliant satire.
Ortiz says he intended to capture his friends as they really are, and both Alex and Olena‘s Instagram accounts point to their “real” selves, but he’s fully aware that their antics might read as absurd or comical.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously and I like looking at everything as a joke,” said Ortiz. “I definitely expected a polarizing reaction.”
And while the Internet may be responding with a surplus of thumbs-downs on YouTube, the stars of the show aren’t letting the haters get them down.
“When we shot this, we didn’t think about other people,” Sosner explained. “This was solely based on having fun with our friends and shooting a glimpse into our lives… a small part of just the surface of our lives. We expected the reactions, but are so excited people are seeing it!”
Like any reality star in training, Yatsyuk noted that her greatest pleasure has been watching the show’s rise from relative obscurity to Internet fame: “Last week the pilot had maybe 100 views and 99 of them were probably me,” she said. “Now the world is watching and the best part is making all of you laugh, even if it’s at my expense.”
Screengrab via The Bedford Stop/YouTube