Southern Brooklyn

Russian Leaders Slam "Brighton Beach" Reality Show

A March casting call for 'Brighton Beach'

Just weeks into shooting for the Brighton Beach reality show, the Russian-American community is blasting entertainment media for cartoonish depictions of Russian-Americans, and warning producers of the new series to avoid callous stereotyping.

A group of 42 elected politicians and Russian-speaking activists sent a strongly-worded letter to Lifetime Networks executives, taking issue with the proposed show’s model – the “highly contentious and ethnically derogatory Jersey Shore.”

“It has come to our attention that the casting call for the show sought out ‘the Russian Snooki and The Situation’, reducing would-be contestants to vodka-drinking ethnic caricatures who ‘love attention’ and do little more than ‘eat, drink and party’,” wrote John Lisyanskiy, the founder of the Russian-Speaking American Leadership Caucus, and the main signee on the letter.

The Russian-Speaking American Leadership Caucus is a coalition of Russian-speaking professionals, academics, law enforcement officers and media personalities. They were joined in signing the letter by a slew of politicians and activists, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Representative Michael McMahon, State Senator Carl Kruger, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, Councilman Domenic Recchia, and Pat Singer of the Brighton Neighborhood Association.

The letter also takes aim at the characterization of Russian-Americans in the broader entertainment media.

“The Brighton Beach region of Brooklyn, NY has often been used as a backdrop for films and television shows. Yet rarely have its Russian-speaking American residents been depicted as anything more than thugs, criminals and outcasts,” the letter states, saying that the real values are better represented by Irving Berlin, Josef Brodsky and Sergey Brin – “not ‘Snooki’ and ‘The Situation.'”

“It’s time for ‘reality’ television to stop cashing in on stereotypes. Lifetime can do better than a damaging and inaccurate portrayal of New York City’s Russian community,” said New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

The group is calling on Lifetime Networks, which announced in October that they would produce 12 episodes of Brighton Beach, to meet with members of the Caucus and share ideas to elevate the material above ethnic bias.

According to locals in Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach, the show started shooting a few weeks ago, and cast members have been spotted in a handful of local eateries and nightclubs. Disclosure forms between the network and the establishments’ owners prevent the owners from confirming or commenting on the reports.

Calls to Lifetime Networks have not yet been returned.

However, after the show was picked up last month, Lifetime released more information about their plans that suggested a more toned-down, feminized version than the hyper-ethnic, youth-driven party house the original creators were pitching.

“It’s a multigenerational women’s story about life in the community,” Lifetime Spokesperson Michael Feeney told the New York Times. “It’s about their dating life, their work life, their relationships together and their external relationships. It characterizes a community; it’s not a bunch of people put in a house. It’s done in the Lifetime voice, not in the MTV voice.”

Comment policy


  1. Sounds like OPM is gonna have a lot of Camera Crews walking around in it.

    on a side note, there are some skanky chicks in that photo…. LOL i know 3 i can point out!

  2. They must be doing something that hit a raw nerve. Outbursts like this will ensure good ratings for the show.

  3. I like how they are protesting the old outline for the show… too bad Lifetime is on their new outline for the show. Will it devolve into bad stereotypes in the end? Who knows, but if these leaders and politicians want to be taken seriously, they should probably be basing their fears off the most recent information instead.

    Still, right now I think a reality show around Gerritsen Beach would gain more ratings than Brighton Beach.

  4. Like anyone would want to see a Sheepshead Bay reality show. Now a Gerritsen beach tv show would have higher ratings than the Jersey shore.

  5. Will it include how to cheat the American system, how to look tacky wearing overboard the biggest designer logo labels all over their clothes. Can you please tell these people that that card they are using to pay for things aka Benefit Card is not an American Express card. Whey I was growing up it was called Food Stamps and it was embarassing to use them, because it ment that you were POOR!!!! Now it means that you are a smart Russian that has once again beat the American system or knows Vladimir at the food stamp office. I am tired of paying for your imported chocolates, are you supposed to buy food with that card.

  6. Will there be a special episode to find out how to get that 90k+ luxury car while receiving NYC food stamps and still somehow get florida or pennsylvania tags?

  7. You sir are an asshole. It is fairly obvious that both posts were made by you. Just because you make multiple posts under different names, you don’t assert your point.

    Hey Ned, does Disqus log IPs of users who post?

  8. Hey Kon, I think Also Fed up has a good point. I see this everyday, Some up tight Russian jerkoff comes out of his fully loaded Beeeeemmeeer m6 (70k) in fancy sport pants,(300) ridiculous over sized sun glasses from D&G (500) and wife beaters (99c) walks in to stop and shop and pays with foot stamps… Most of these a holes do not look like computer programmers.. so.. WTF do they do all day long? Play with cock and balls? Bottom line.. I want this show to air.. so that these pieces of shit morons are seen everywhere and people laugh at them.

  9. I am not sure where you live, but I live in a russian neighborhood, and while we aren’t exactly poor, I have never seen somebody like that. One of my neighbors has a cheaper Porsche model and I have never seen them pay with food stamps, use connections to get their way, and both the father and mother both work full time jobs. Please tell me where you live so that I can see these people for myself.

  10. while I have to admit you are exaggerating somewhat, I have seen a number of such comical personages around the neighborhood

  11. I probably am an asshole, but not the same person as “fed up”. I just happen to find it funny why every single brand luxury car in what’s becoming if not already is predominantly Russian neighborhoods are all registered with PA and FL tags and yet when I go to stop and shop the same woman who’s paying with a NYC benefits card is getting into a M6 or E class Merc.

  12. Just like Andy said, I exaggerating somewhat, but everyone got my point. I live in sheepshead bay. I did not however exaggerated about over sized sun glasses.. do you have some?

    Galaxy.. Have you ever seen black Range Rover with ” G a m e o v e r” red sign on the back? that is one of those characters that I’m referring to.

  13. Ohh and you know what else drives me nuts that these people always park in handicapped parking.. closer to the entrance.

  14. It is what it is. Hope the public gets fed up with the Russians and their GIVE ME attitude. Medicaid, food stamps, rent co-pay etc while driving their Lexus to the welfare office. FEDUP is probably an educated hard working AMERICAN who by his name is showing his true feelings as an AMERICAN caught in the Russian invasion of the 80’s which destroyed Brighton and the Bay area. Who else is fed up with the signs in the stores “we speak english” KON, your a bitter Russian who never learned the art of the scam. or did you and yiour afraid its going to crumble

  15. It is what it is. Hope the public gets fed up with the Russians and their GIVE ME attitude. Medicaid, food stamps, rent co-pay etc while driving their Lexus to the welfare office. FEDUP is probably an educated hard working AMERICAN who by his name is showing his true feelings as an AMERICAN caught in the Russian invasion of the 80’s which destroyed Brighton and the Bay area. Who else is fed up with the signs in the stores “we speak english” KON, your a bitter Russian who never learned the art of the scam. or did you and yiour afraid its going to crumble

  16. I am not Russian. My father is German, my mother is Ukrainian. >_>

    “educated hard working AMERICAN” I think you made a typo. What you meant to say was “uneducated AMERICAN, that has nothing better to do but attack a group of people on a local blog.”

    Let me take a guess on your stance about the Islamic community center being built… You are against it because all Muslims are terrorists who want to destroy this neighborhood. Am I right?

  17. How about next time you see one of these “Russians” you go over and tell them how you feel about them invading your neighborhood and stealing your tax dollars. Just do us all a favor and make sure to record this conversation so we can all hear or watch it. Every person i know that drives a luxury car is a business owner or hard working person and none of them are any type of welfare. Are there people that screw the system? sure there are but its not only Russians. Thieves come from everywhere. So dont just sit behind the computer bad mouthing a whole community go up to the guy in the range and tell him how you feel and at least come back here and tell us how that went for you. Oh and an M6 is 100k not 70k.

  18. If that’s “American”, I don’t want to be it! And IMHO people who are so busy badmouthing others are just wasting their lives wallowing in bitterness. I’m not going to point it out that the welfare types are just a part of the Russian community. Clearly you’ve been doing a good job ignoring that. Well, I’m sorry, we’re your neighbors now. Just like all the other new immigrants. And personally, I never expected a wecome mat, but I’m kind of shocked that someone who could be my next-door neighbor totally hates me for no good reason.

  19. Sorry Gene, I guess I worded it wrong. I think I missed the point by a long shot. What I was trying to say was that if people want to point fingers at the Russian community (that yes, I am a part of) they should really be taking a look at bigger issues…at people who ARE riding the system harder than anyone else. It’s disgusting. I try hard, REALLY hard not to be a racist but when you CONSTANTLY try to get pick-pocketed on the train by…pretty much the same people over and over again…it makes it extremely hard. They’re just digging their own graves here. Demanding respect but not doing much to warrant it.

  20. So you have reported these plates to the DMV, right? Reporting a crime is your civic duty as an American.

    “If you have a vehicle registration from another state, you must get a vehicle registration from NYS within 30 days after you become a resident of NYS.”
    “To live in a house, a home, an apartment, a room or other similar place in NYS for 90 days is considered “presumptive evidence” that you are a resident of NYS.”

  21. Unlike violating vehicle registration and insurance laws, playing with cock and balls is not a crime in New York State (yet – wait for Christine O’Donnell to move north).

  22. Wait, I thought Bad Muslimz™ destroyed the neighborhood? You should talk to Bay People – there’s got to be some kind of misunderstanding here!

  23. I think every community has it’s negotive and positive sides.I don’t 100% agree with those of you who generalizing people with luxury cars who using benefits cards in supermarket and call them Russian jerks, i would simply called them a low class , arrogant assholes who think that everybody around them is stupid.But,at the same time i understand frustration of some people that grew up in Sheepsheadbay and see all this “new-comers” (i am Russian too by the way) taking over the best spots on the blocks.I personaly see some pretty embarasing examples every day,that make me feel bad about my people.But when i look around and see a guy from Boro Park parking Porshe Panamera with VAS-plates (which is total absurd,since when we have an ambulance-volunteer on PORSCHE !!! ) on the hydrant , while i’m getting a ticket for axpired meter, i think to myself that assholes have no nationality,they are everywhere …

  24. The trick is to have an address out of New York to use as permanent residence.
    I would not be surprised to find numerous vehicles listed at one Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland or The Carolina’s address.

  25. There does seem to be a recent trend of showcasing heavy accented “Russians” in movies, TV shows and commercials. I love the DirectTV spots with the mini giraffe kissing “Opulence, I has it” guy. Not to mention the Time warner cable Manhattan gift shop guy selling the “reemported” sunglasses from New Jersey.
    So why’s it such a surprise that there’s a Russian reality show, even though there’s nothing much real about it. Well maybe a little.

  26. Screwing the system is the American way. Do you think major corporations do anything different then using the proverbial food stamp to get things at a discount? Just for them it’s called tax deductions and minimal capital gains taxes. The “system” screws us by taxing the middle class at 35% and the rich and big corporations at 5%-15%. 55% of all tax revenue comes from the middle class. The govt f’d all of us in the most recent real-estate bubble, and you feel bad about someone on welfare driving a porche? Dont be ignorant until you consider all the facts.
    Why are lazy, and classic underachieving “Americans” so proud of the fact that they have no motivation and no entrepreneurial spirit?
    I remember the Bay of the 70’s and 80’s. It was a sh!t hole! Very few restaurants, new buildings, or nice places to visit. The reconstructed pier, Lundy’s landing, Lowman’s Mall and all the new stores and hotels are a direct result of the Russian community moving in and making the community more affluent, and more attractive for everyone.
    As for the show, its gonna suck! But it wont stop us from watching it, just like we rubber neck at an auto accident. Who doesnt want to see a bunch of hot scantily clad Russian bimbos dancing around and acting stupid. I’m surprised MTV didnt pick it up.

  27. Лёва, ты прикрасно знаеш что я имею в виду, не надо кидать цыфры. Я говорю о тех придурках которые придают нам Русским имигрантам лехую славу и ты ето знаеш, обидно что таких очень много.

    Here is the deal, this kind of shows need drama and more drama and more stupid drama to keep up with the ratings and survive. So.. ether it will be boring and no one will want to watch it, or there will be sooo much drama and like extreme ..kind of stuff and people will watch it .. for the same reason they watch Jersey Shore …. I’m 100% sure that the producers of the show will add some fictional stuff to it and make it crazy,stupid and flashy but we all know that there are characters that do not need any fiction to be just that.

  28. Slavery was much better. Damn troublmaker Lincoln.

    See, attacking ANY group as a whole is wrong. It’s individuals that are the problem.

    Yeah, we all have our moments of being intolerant. Human nature, I guess. But we should keep such sentiments away from universal broadcasting.

    It’s not right to assume that all Russians are superficial and avaricious. It’s also wrong to point fingers at the black community.

    You’re not trying hard enough not to be a racist. You’re not trying to separate the good ones from the bad.

  29. It seems like the local Americans are fixated on how Russians live. Sure, we show off, but it’s because we are proud of what we achieved in a relative amount of time we are. Even our “frauds” are huge. It’s always in the millions of $$$$. Looks like we excel in anything we do! Speaks to Russian-Jewish ingenuity and entreprenurial spirit. All the comments by the jelous and anti-semitic local americans are indicative of their personal failures to achieve anything and bigotry. It’s not their fault really- the church has spewed anti-semitism and jew hatred for 2000 years and jelousy is ingrained in the human nature… to all my jewish-russian brothers – I salute you and keep up the good work in taking advantage all the good things that USA has to offer. Let Lifetime showcase how we do it and let’s be proud. Just please try to obey the laws… We are not in Russia anymore- here you can make $$$ legally as well!

  30. So what you are telling me is that these fila-addidas wearing ambullette drivers got themselves a show and people are upset about it????

  31. As an American born and raised in Sheepshead Bay, and who is NOT of Russian descent, I detest two things equally:

    1) the characterization of Russians as scheming, arrogant crooks who solely have a “me first” attitude, and universally defraud the American government.
    2) the characterization of those Sheepshead residents whose families have been here for generations as nothing more than dumb, blue-collar slobs who are jealous of Russians because they – supposedly – are more successful.

    I’ve noticed that as soon as one of the above characterizations is made in the comments, the other is immediately deployed. And yet, in the 2.5 years of running this site and meeting all kinds of people that define this neighborhood, I’ve found it to be accurate exactly zero – ZERO – times.

    I’m glad these things come out on Sheepshead Bites. A lot of Russian residents don’t realize what their American (and I’m using the terms “Russian” and “American” for simplicity – but in my book they’re all American) counterparts think of them. A lot of Americans don’t realize what their Russian counterparts think of them.

    But now it’s out, and it’s been out for a while. How can we finally move this conversation forward and bridge the gap? Every single person on this site cares about this community – that’s why you’re here – so there exists a common ground.

    So how bout we stop crapping on each other, and engage in a more fruitful conversation?

  32. A) The purpose of the blog is to argue contrasting views and opinions, otherwise what the hells the point of even listing such a polarizing article as the one about the Russian reality show. If people agreed, they wouldn’t post comments.
    B) I you haven’t come across any such characters Ned in 2.5 years, you are either don’t live here, are delusional, or in denial.
    C) There’s no bridge gapping! People are and always will be racist. Either you keep it to yourself, or express it in a blog.
    D) Everyone here who lives in New York has seen both extremes, in fact just my department at work is filled with both of ‘em.
    E) What Russian Leaders!?! There are no Russian leaders in the community. Some a-hole meat store owner turned councilman does not speak for the Russian community, nor lead them.

    On an end note, I recall a funny moment when I was in some local Bodega and a girl casually says to her friend “have you noticed how all Russians smell like potatoes?”

  33. Its funny Sosimoihuy, I had one of those polyester sweat suit wearing ambullette drivers cut me off today, turning from Shore Rd onto Bedford from the second lane.
    I suspect his Dolce-Gabanna baseball cap was on too tight.

  34. A) Arguing is different than an informed discussion.
    B) Next time you see one of these guys that you think you have figured out with a glance, get to know him/her. You’ll find your little caricature doesn’t come close to fitting.
    C) Disagree, and if that’s all you use this blog for I’ll kindly (or not so kindly) tell you to shove off.

    On an end note, if you don’t stick to one username you’ll be banned. You’ve been using this site long enough to know that I don’t tolerate that for very long.

  35. 1. Informed Discussion? Are you serious? If people were all informed, there would be no discussion.
    2. Your anti-racist views are valid, but I happen to be one of the caricatures, and know plenty of them, on both sides of the pond.
    3. There are generally 2 or more contrasting views, and that’s the definition of disagreement. 56 comments stating I agree do neither form and interesting nor enlightening conversation.

    On another end note, there are nearly half of us in the same department posting and reading comments, so dont confuse the same IP for the same users.

  36. We’re not mad about it, We’re just pissed off cause we don’t like to be in the spotlight. Just like when jersey shore came out, a lot of Italians were pissed off cause it made them all look Stupid.

    I can almost bet Everyone is going to Degrade Russians after this.

    Also why is that Chinese dude in the picture? he’s not russian.

  37. You go fed up! They can’t buy soap or deodorant to wash their asses, but they can buy caviar from the street stands along Brighton Beach Avenue. Go figure!

  38. They do know how to make an entrance – unfortunately, it’s more of making a spectical of themselves – they are so over the top with everything.

  39. We all live in a Russian neighborhead (sheepshead bay, Brighton) I am wondering if you really live in a Russian neighborhood. You’ve never seen any of them pay for things with food stamps? You don’t know that they are conniving theives who would steal your fillings out of your teeth to make a quick buck? A Russian told me how to get on welfare when she heard me saying a friend of mine was going through a really bad time. A Russian told me how to “legally extend” my unemployment 4 years ago when it just wasn’t done. She knew people who could help me with that. Are you serious?

  40. Who cares who’s right or who’s wrong? Ned is giving everyone from our part of brooklyn to have a Voice.
    It’s not Ned’s fault your IP is a whore….

  41. A lot of us, average immigrants from former USSR came to this country 10-20 years ago, not very long ago compare to other immigrant groups. And in such a short period of time we are able to own and afford things that average Americans never owned after 3-4 generations.

    We own buildings, houses, drive AMGs & Cayennes and wear Pateks & Rolexes.

    Wait another 10-20 years, we’ll buy the whole Manhattan and will employ you as our janitors.

  42. If by smoke you mean will crash and burn when the brakes fail.
    We should turn this into a car discussion blog.

    Anyone want to comment on the superiorityinferiority of Pateks VS. Swatch?

  43. I, myself, am Ukrainian which fits in the american standard for “russian”. I have never done or have seen this and I take offense to your broad generalization of russians as “conniving theives who would steal your fillings out of your teeth to make a quick buck”. I think that people would be offended, and rightfully so, if I called americans fat, greedy slobs. Why? Because it doesn’t apply to everyone. You are just criminalizing an entire peoples because a couple of them fit into your convient stereotypes. I had this same conversation in the mosque threads, about tolerance and now all that happened is that the target switched to russians. Who are you going to pick on next month? Germans? Irish? Real americans?

  44. Hold up are you serious right now? When was the last time you went to Pennsylvania Avenue??? near the projects that section 8 pays for… i think you can find the biggest # of BMW’s and MERCEDES there…. you know who they belong to? African / American’s….. cause it turns out it’ better to live with your grandma or whoever has section 8 pay them $300 a month for rent while granny lives else where. Think thats legal? my grandmother is paying $900 because she can’t get section 8 because the Line is CRAZY long, and these wankers just care about them selves…

  45. Знаю, знаю… Но, как говорил мой дядя: “Ты может и неправ, но если началась драка – надо давать сдачи”.

    I caught 1 minute of Jersey Shore and had to run to wash my eyes and ears. I’m sure this show will be “just as good”, so we have nothing to worry about!

  46. WRONG. !! The muslims have been in the neighborhood for eons. I am against the SIZE of what they want to build on a narrow street. Why not take over the old abandoned synagouge opposite the nostrand houses. Wave your flag somewhere else. My family is 4th generation from Russia. My family took nothing from the government in the form of aide. They worked 20 hr days and lived 10 in a 1 or 2 bedroom apt on the lower east side of manhattan. Uneducated American? MBA from NYU without handouts, thank you for asking.

  47. We have done our homework and have continuously tracked all that is publicly known about the show’s development process. We are also keenly aware of the mentioned media reports, which offer mostly obscure and sometimes conflicting takes on the show’s theme and direction.

    As a result, many in our community have come to identify Brighton Beach as a thematic extension of the ethnically derogatory Jersey Shore, while others believe that Lifetime is engaging in tricky marketing tactics to obfuscate the show’s true format.

  48. “which destroyed Brighton” – hilarious! Yes, the property values on brighton have plummeted since the 80’s! Hah.

  49. Wow…welcome to the world of PUERTO RICANS, who dealt with and STILL deal with racial stereotyping since we’ve arrived in NYC. From the Italian’s, the Irish and just about anyone who wasn’t Spanish. I’ve never thought of other cultures this way. My self esteem is pretty high, and as a result, I’ve never had to perpetuate an “I’m better than you because I’m (fill in the blank)” attitude. Such nonsense. Really.


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