Last night, gay-focused cable channel Logo premiered its somewhat-anticipated reality series, The A-List: New York, a Real Housewives-esque look at the lives of five apparently important gay men in New York City. (It’s worth noting up front that A-List is produced by True Entertainment, the minds behind The Real Housewives of Atlanta, which celebrated its third-season premiere last night, too.) As you might expect, much of this first hour was spent introducing us to the men who make up the cast. Each got a little vignette where we learned who (and how bitchy) they are, what they do, who they’re dating, and how impressive their six-pack is (or isn’t). Here’s a quick dossier on the “rich and gaymous” men of The A-List: New York:
Reichen Lehmkuhl, aka The One You’ve Probably-Maybe Heard Of
Claim to fame: Winner of The Amazing Race; former boyfriend of ‘N Sync’s Lance Bass.
A-List activities include: Starring in the off-Broadway musical My Big Gay Italian wedding; canoodling with hunky Brazilian boyfriend Rodiney, who’s the surprisingly hilarious breakout of the show because his broken English – which isn’t that bad – propelled Logo to subtitle all of his dialogue (!).
Token A-List quote: “I’m A-List because, for me, A stands for accomplishment.”
Loves: To take himself way too seriously.
Mike Ruiz, aka The Celebrity Photographer
Claim to fame: He’s shot everyone from Adam Lambert and Carmen Electra to Brooke Shields and Kim Kardashian
A-List activities include: Photographing Kelly Rowland; mentoring Reichen’s boyfriend Rodiney.
Token A-List quote: “Am I A-List? Yes. I go to the best parties, and I work with celebrities, and I travel around the world.”
Loves: To wear large, horn-rimmed glasses.
Ryan Nickulas, aka The Queeny Hairstylist
Claim to fame: Owns a downtown hair salon that cuts and styles “Pamela Anderson, Isaac Mizrahi, and even Rachael Ray.”
A-List activities include: Being bitchy with salon manager/assistant/friend T.J., who’s not a full cast member but is funnier than everyone else.
Token A-List quote: “The places I go, the people I know, and the things I do are A-List. Thus, I’m A-List.”
Loves: To put on a deep V-neck or sheer shirts, or a combination of the two.
Austin Armacost, aka The Gold Digger
Claim to fame: Dated Reichen and fashion designer Marc Jacobs; friend of Dustin Lance Black.
A-List activities include: Working out in the park; lunching with modeling agent.
Token A-List quote: “I was on the A-List, but now I’m going to do whatever I can to get back on it.”
Loves: Talking about Marc Jacobs.
Derek Lloyd Saathoff, aka The Spray-Tanning Fashionista
Claim to fame: Works in fashion; friend of Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, and Sean William Scott. (“I’m best friends with Lindsay Lohan,” he says. “She stays at my apartment when she comes to New York.)
A-List activities include: Shopping with Ryan; introducing Austin to his friends.
Token A-List quote: Derek doesn’t actually use the “A-List” in any of his quotage, but he might as well. “I go to all the most amazing restaurants, clubs. Like, anywhere anyone can’t get in, I’m there. I never have to wait behind a velvet rope. My name is on every VIP list in the city.”
Loves: Again, spray tanning!
As the dossiers above indicate, the casting on this show is kind of bizarre—none of these gays are very funny or very self-deprecating, and you’d think that would be a requirement for at least one or two reality-show protagonists, no? (Especially gay ones, come on!) These personality deficiencies mean that none of The A-List quintet is likely to engender much sympathy or inspire much affection from me or you or anyone, really, unless they radically change in the coming episodes. The reason we love The Real Housewives of New York’s Bethenny is, sure, because she’s batshit crazy—but also because she can laugh at herself. Same goes for Ramona, The Countess, and Jill, for the most part. The most lovable cast members of The A-List: New York are, oddly enough, supporting players T.J. and Rodiney.
And sure, the show is full of stereotypes. We see all of them (except Ryan) shirtless very soon after they’re introduced. They talk constantly about being fabulous and partying. They’re bitchy to each other. At least one (Austin) seems ready to pounce on another one’s boyfriend (Reichen). A couple of them wear Speedos. Yet while I can already hear the vitriol that The A-List premiere will inspire – “They’re all Chelsea boys!” “They’re all bitchy!” “They’re all fashion-obsessed!” “They’re all shallow!” “These portrayals do no good for the LGBT community!” – this gay man living in New York City can’t get too indignant about any of it. After all, do we watch The Real Housewives franchise for accurate depictions of how straight women conduct their lives? Heck no!
So what’s wrong with showing us Reichen and Rodiney getting it on in a Hamptons hot tub? Or Mike shirtless and serving up a smoothie? Or Ryan and T.J. being bitchy about Reichen’s opening night? It’s just for fun, really, and I have to say: I enjoyed it all. Enough that I’ll be back next week for sure for another dip. Will you be, PopWatchers? Sound off in the comments below!
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky