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    Dec 2009

    Default Reality TV show 'Russian Dolls' stirs controversy

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    A mother is lecturing her 23-year-old daughter about her love life, flailing a kitchen knife above her head for emphasis. Mom's point: She'd like her immigrant daughter, from the former Soviet republic of Moldova, to marry a man with similar roots, keeping the family's East European Jewish tradition.
    Alas, the daughter informs mom that she's already dating a Hispanic man. But she soon dumps him, on-camera, during a restaurant date.
    The scene is captured in a new TV reality show called "Russian Dolls," which premiered on the Lifetime cable network in August and airs Thursdays at 11:30 pm EST.

    It's been called the Russian "Jersey Shore" or "Real Housewives," featuring six women and two men, plus colorful extras like Anna Kosov, the mother. They're all from the former Soviet Union and either live or have lived in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach neighborhood. But only two actually hail from Russia.
    The show has drawn the wrath of neighbors and community leaders who say it creates a caricature of their immigrant world, turning cast members into "Russians in tacky clothes who do little more than eat, drink and party," says John Lisyanskiy, founder of the new nonprofit Russian-Speaking American Leadership Caucus and a budget analyst for the New York City Council.
    The show's characters do represent "a small portion of our community," acknowledges Yelena Makhnin, executive director of the Brighton Beach Business Improvement District. But she says her neighborhood by the Brooklyn boardwalk is mostly "a very intelligent, very well educated, hardworking community."
    ...being a human...



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