Why this UES lady doth protest just enough


Georgia Flood as Amanda in “American Princess.” Photo courtesy of Lifetime
by lorraine duffy merkl

Upper East Side women are superficial snobs who live Instagrammable lives, can’t order a coffee without an uptalking whine and worship at the altar of their black cards. Are we not tired of this trope?

I am four episodes deep into Lifetime’s “American Princess” and my viewing pleasure has been disrupted by a love/hate relationship; I love the quirkiness of the very inventive backdrop — a Royal Renaissance Festival — but hate that once again a representative of our nabe gets thrown under the bus.

Amanda (played by Australian actress Georgia Flood) is a UES socialite, by way of Vassar and summers on The Cape, who pedicabs away from her storybook, country inn nuptials (alluding to Gwyneth being in attendance, natch) after finding her doctor fiancé with another woman. As per the Bard: The course of true love never did run smooth.

Depressed, distraught, confused and on the verge, she takes refuge at a local Faire, where, when on the clock, none of the “Rennies” break character, because All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.

After news of her runaway bride exploits hits the tabloids and her former fiancé goes on their honeymoon solo to “prioritize self-care,” Amanda realizes her new friends, “are nicer to me than the people who were supposed to be in my wedding.” Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.

Amanda renounces her life of shopping, cocktails, and brunch to take a job as a pub wench for which she adopts the festival moniker: Ophelia Feelsgood. (What’s in a name?)

Even though the onetime English major is a natural at Elizabethan patter and recites witticisms such as, “My kingdom for some WiFi,” Amanda is still who she is: a Seven Sisters-educated, competitive NYC jetsetter who can’t help but show off by besting “William Shakespeare” apropos of historical accuracy, taking on festival OG “Queen Elizabeth,” and schooling gratuitously just about everyone, even those who are trying to help her, including a potential love interest, on how things would be so much better if done her way.

I do enjoy a good fish out of water story, especially when the non-comfort zone environ promotes growth and change, and having one of our own as the person going from elegant to earthy is as good as any. Did she though, have to be so unlikable?

The Upper East Side adult brat, whose claim to fame is how many likes her posts get, who shows up constantly on television, in books and movies has become just lazy storytelling. What fools these mortals be.

My adult son has lived a number of places around the country during his academic and working careers. Because the stereotype of where we live always proceeds him, after the question Where in Manhattan did you grow up? is posed, he often mumbles the location hoping to fend off the invariable next comment: “Oh, so like on Gossip Girl?”

There’s really no reason that Amanda had to be a Blair without the ubiquitous headband. She could have come from affluence, but easily also been a talented entrepreneur as well as philanthropic. Perhaps then, when the groom is revealed to be a cheater, the reaction towards the bride-to-be would be sympathetic rather than “Who could blame him?”

She’s also an arrogant blackout drunk, and a self-confessed person who “picks myself and everyone else apart, I find what’s wrong in most every situation, I thrive on negativity,” yet still believes she brings the joy and everybody likes her.

I will continue to watch (there are only ten episodes) because I need to witness the personal renaissance of my little UES compatriot. Something tells me though, when the time comes for her to save the Faire’s day, it will be using the skills that she was running from in the first place.

All’s well that ends well? Me thinks not.

Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels “Fat Chick” and “Back To Work She Goes.”