Breaking news: The Boston Globe’s redoubtable Matthew Gilbert seems to be back on the TV beat after a brief fling with his Bookish column.
Big moments in ‘Breaking Boston’ feel staged
Sigh. The good intentions come rolling off the screen in the new reality show “Breaking Boston.” The latest effort to parade the Boston accent in front of our nation — behind “Southie Rules,” “Wicked Single,” and “Wahlburgers” — follows four young working-class women who are trying hard to improve their lives. Each is struggling to shake off a history of bad choices involving drugs, alcohol, and troubled romances with irresponsible man-children who sport cool tattoos but cold eyes.
They want to “break good,” to borrow sloppily from the title, which, like “Breaking Amish,” borrows sloppily from the title “Breaking Bad,” which, if there is any justice in this world, will never, ever be borrowed from again.
The artificiality of the mechanics of the show undermines its effectiveness. Every scene seems staged to the hilt, every comment — even those made to the “diary-cam,” which has replaced the “Real World” confessional in the reality genre — feels coaxed and coached. When Kristina is happily lying in bed with her maybe-boyfriend (“You gotta earn that right,” he tells her), the phone rings and, of course, it’s her ex from prison. The timing is awful, as in perfect for TV.
Down I-95 in the Big Town, it’s an entirely different story in Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times piece.
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Kristina has been dating Mikey for about a year, but Mikey says she has not yet earned the right to call him her boyfriend. As he puts it, “I’m pretty certain if it keeps going this way, we will have that label.”
Valerie worries that a local college won’t give her a scholarship because she has done time. Courtney, a single mother and high school dropout, weeps at the thought of having to get her G.E.D. And Noelle, who lives with her mother, is the classy one. “I would never go to a strip club on Christmas,” she says.
[W]hile it could easily be just another celebration of hot-mess reality stars, somewhere between a Boston edition of “The Real Housewives” and “The Governor’s Wife,” this show comes with an unimpeachable seal of approval: Mark Wahlberg is an executive producer, and he has put a redemptive underlay to all the Southie stereotypes. These women who talk with a broad “ah” and curse a lot are working-class heroines, striving to better themselves — despite smothering families, loser boyfriends and dead-end jobs.
Working-class heroines? Wow.
For once, the standards in Boston are more stringent than the Big Town’s.
Say yeah, yeah?