MTV’s ‘Washington Heights’ – The Weekly Breakdown

BY Sara Martinez (@Saritology)

MTV's Washington Heights

Back row from left; Eliza Jefferson, J.P. Perez, Reyna Saldana and Ludwin Federo. Front row: Fred Rasuk, Frankie Reese, Taylor Howell (laying on laps), and Rico Rasuk of MTV's newest reality show. (Photo: Craig Warga | NY Daily News)

By now you’ve either seen the debut episodes of MTV’s newest reality based series Washington Heights, heard about it on your Facebook Newsfeed, or watched your friends argue about it on Twitter. People have their opinions, it wouldn’t be Uptown, wouldn’t be New York City, if they didn’t. But I’m not here to talk about my opinion of the shows portrayal of my favorite chicken spot, and how that relates to the Dominican diaspora. I’d much rather discuss the show as the television connoisseur that I am.

Here’s a little background on me: my friends know not to call me at certain times during the evening, lest they interrupt my stories. I say “I don’t watch reality TV,” but that’s a lie. If Ice T and Coco break up, I’ll be devastated. Devastated. When they had their argument on Twitter, I had to refrain from tweeting them “Mom! Dad! Please stop fighting!” I’ve patiently waited for the return of Arrested Development; my Netflix account recommends televisions shows, not movies. I jog at the gym because I can watch television on my smartphone. My Facebook threads of The Walking Dead are much anticipated. I preface my comments with “spoiler alert,” because that’s just proper etiquette. I sit on a balance ball when I watch television at home, because then I can call it exercising. I may have a problem. I don’t care.

Now, that we have that out of the way, on with the show! MTV gave us a heavy dosage for the Washington Heights premier: two episodes for the price of one. The beginning of the first episode we have JP, or Audubon if you’re nasty, give a brief introduction of his friends. They seem like my friends, except at their age all my friends were in college, or had jobs, or both. How are these kids funding the alcohol that added fuel to the Facebook message ignited flames?

Oh yes, it wouldn’t be a reality show if there wasn’t a girl fight in the first 20 minutes. I like how Reyna, the blond with attitude, who is also one of JP’s best friend’s, accurately, expressed the calming-the-drunk-person-down-gets-them-riled-up conundrum. Seems like she was flirting with Jimmy, JP’s other best friend, on Facebook. And why not? Besides his crazy teeth, he seems to be built right, what with the baseball playing, and training to be in a farm league. We also see he’s sensitive when he went to visit his dad, who’s completing a bid upstate, I can see why she’d want to hit that. But when Jimmy’s suburban girlfriend, Eliza, saw the messages, you know what she did. She did what your friend’s do… she sent Reyna a message, complete with ‘next time I see you I’m going to greet you with my fist.’ Or something like that.

It all comes to a head at JP’s show at Apt. 78, where everyone is having a good time, until the infamous Apt. 78 sangria gives Reyna the bright idea of talking to Eliza. Why? Why would she think it’s a good idea to talk to someone about a problem when you’re supposed to be showing support for your boy? Had she been a real friend she would have kept her distance, and been polite. Eventually the beef would’ve been squashed. They would probably never have been friends. Let’s be real, if you were Eliza, you would never have trusted Reyna around your boo. Either way, a slapfest ensues: Reyna hits first, but quickly gets bodied by Eliza onto the sidewalk, and ends up laid out on her back. I bet she had scabs on her knees after that. Jimmy is held back by his friends from getting involved, while his other friends try to break it up the girl fight. So of course Jimmy gets cray, and wants to beat up his friends, but that’s just the adrenaline talking. I don’t think he really wants to hit them.

Frankie, the poet, has a crush on Ludwin, the artist who is dating the Dominican Daria, (I can’t take credit for that description, I saw it on Twitter,) who I’m pretty sure hates him… and everyone else for that matter. Why you so angry Dominican Daria? You’re young, beautiful, and now you’re on TV, relax. Or use that melancholy to your advantage like Kristen Stewart. Ludwin gets his GED, that’s cool, but he calls Frankie before D.D.? OK. This is the love triangle. Get invested in this, because it will lead to a lot of drama for Ludwin. Which we like, right? We like drama, that’s why we watch these shows.

JP, aka Audubon, has a show at Apt. 78 that went well until the fight. His mom was there, she looked so proud, she was misty eyed, she speaks English? What the what? I thought this was Washington Heights, I didn’t think mom’s spoke English here. I kid, I kid! My mother speaks English, so does my father, I swear. JP’s mom is pretty awesome. Then he has a show at Phuket (which isn’t pronounced “fuk it” but is pronounced “foo quet”, I know, I hate it too and prefer the former.) It was a good show, everyone looked good. I would have liked to see more of the crowd. You know there were some hot women with spandex dresses putting professional, cement injecting, booty girls to shame, but still, you get a little flash when they’re standing outside waiting to get in.

We see them chillin’ on the rooftops, with a lot of patio furniture. Where’d they get that furniture from? We’ll never know. But did anyone else want to yell “liar!” at the top of their lungs when you saw them up there? What Washington Heights super lets people hang out on the roof? I was at my friend’s apartment, I went to the hall to smoke a cigarette, I opened the window on the roof’s landing and set off a series of alarms. A window! Imaginate a roof door! I can picture the cops busting down the door, handcuffing me to the mysterious patio furniture, while searching my belongings. I also watch Cops.

So here are a few questions that these first two episodes brought up: how are they supporting themselves? I know poetry isn’t paying for those nails and brunch dates boo-boo. And who does your hair? I like! How are you getting all this pizza and wings JP? Those gigs don’t pay yet. Who is Taylor, and can we confirm that her bedroom is that huge? That bedroom is like the size of my best friend’s Upper West Side apartment! And why you fronting like Van Cortlandt Park is part of Washington Heights? That’s the Bronx, let’s give the Bronx some love. And where can I find all that music that was in the show?

What’s going to happen next week? Will the Dominican Daria smile? Will Frankie reveal how she’s affording her brunch addiction? Will Eliza and Jimmy sit across from each other at restaurants and stop creeping me out? Will we see more of Rico, Fred and Taylor? Guess we’ll have to tune in.

Check out:

MTV’s ‘Washington Heights’ – The Weekly Breakdown: Episode 3

MTV’s ‘Washington Heights’ – The Weekly Breakdown: Episode 4

MTV’s ‘Washington Heights’ – The Weekly Breakdown: Episode 5

MTV’s ‘Washington Heights’ – The Weekly Breakdown: Episode 6

MTV’s ‘Washington Heights’ – The Weekly Breakdown: Episodes 7 & 8


MTV’s ‘Washington Heights’ – A Historian’s Perspective

MTV’s ‘Washington Heights’ – The Review

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  • Velocity6
    January 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Nice article. I think Frankie may have a job. When Ludwin called her to tell her about the GED, he mentioned something about getting together if she wasn’t working.

    • Sara
      January 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      but where? is she board folding at The Gap? she seems like the type that would work at a bookstore.

  • RilliTho
    January 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    “How are they supporting themselves?” My bf and I were wondering that the whole time. Like they talk about, “How are we gonna pay this bill?” and then no mention of the bill again.

    The show is like a promotional gift for these kids–they don’t have to do anything, but get to promote their poetry/hiphop/fashion/etc careers.

    I think where the show will fail is that there are no confessionals–there’s no house, ergo, none of the compelling interplay among characters that reality-show watchers thrive on. What is keeping them together and why will we care 2 episodes down the road?

    Spot-on review.

    • Sara
      January 11, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      I mean, I’d like to play the role of omnipresent narrator of my group of friends. But they’re kinda mean, and would get mushed.

  • Michelle
    January 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Sara, you said everything I was thinking. Specifically the patio furniture on the roof. Great job!

    • Sara
      January 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      and you know patio furniture is heavy!

  • Portoroc
    January 12, 2013 at 4:37 am

    You’ve obviously not spent that much time in “The Heights”, if you’re inclined to scream “Liar” when you see the cast and crew chilling on the rooftop. What Super in the Heights cares about people chilling on the roof? Chilling on the rooftop of buildings on Broadway is one of the major themes of my experiences in Washington Heights and not just on top of buildings where a friend lived. I watched the sun set and rise, smoked and took in the view of the GW Bridge and had all sorts of intimate encounters on rooftops in the Heights. And, some of the rooftops on 177, 152, 137 & 183rd & Bway actually have lawn furniture up on roof during the Summer. Some have couches & coffee tables. Others have so many things to sit on, you do not need any actual furniture. You can be buzzed into any building in the Heights, and the laundry rooms in the basement have some of the cleanest bathrooms in the city (this can be a life saver)…thanks to those Supers.

    • sara
      January 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      I mean, when I was younger, I used to hang on the rooftops with the best of them. But I’m a bit more… um, seasoned than these kids and every building I’ve gone to now has those alarm bars on the roof doors. So, I stand corrected, there are some rooftops still available for a good ol’ fashioned cipher.

  • keth (moe)
    January 12, 2013 at 11:27 am

    I like the show. This show another part of New York City

  • missDTM
    January 12, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    that dominican daria statement had me dying. she clearly hates being on the show. 🙂

  • washheights
    January 13, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Good review. I think though there are many questions to be asked its still the first 2 episodes. We are supposed to ask the why in order to want to watch again to see what will happen. Now if the show doesn’t alleviate some of the questionable content then people will continue to lose credibility and the show won’t last. Lets hope that it stays for a long while. It will open doors for many businesses and many talented people in the area. If not this version of the show maybe then the version found on YouTube called “Original cast – Washington Heights Reality Show – 2010”

  • Gina
    January 13, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    I love that there’s not a lot of fighting which unfortunately is so characteristic of all the reality tv shows these days. And yes I know Reyna and Eliza had a squabble but there’s not like this CONSTANT fighting, hitting over tables which is just stupid, like the bad girls club. JP is SOOOO cute. Frankie can do FAR better than Ludwin. He’s a control freak.

  • thegirl
    January 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    The white girl went to mother Cabrini HS an all girls school in the heights that i went to so i believe she has a big room, she probably lives in ft washington. a few of my classmates lived up there by the school/ mostly the white ones! and they had huge apartments and big rooms as well.. i got to grow up on 180 and Audubon and while i had a big apartment and a big room i had to split it with my little brother (bummer!)…. any how i don’t know much about the other kids but i can say JP’s mom is a strong woman and she’s been know english since back in the day. me and JP went to elementary school together. As to your question as to how they are getting the funds…. i mean… come on its the heights! you get by! or who knows maybe they all got advances. All in all i say give the show a chance i grew up in the same era and area as most of these kids and classrooms, also keep in mind that to even put the heights on the map they have to appeal to all kinds of viewers as well as conform to the editing done by MTV. I honestly would love to see this show turn into a real world of sorts… its about time!

  • Cataleyadash
    January 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I loveeeeeeee the show and I freaking love ludwin swag:))♥

  • Areezu
    November 1, 2013 at 7:09 am