For many unscripted shows, reality TV is a platform for glorifying stereotypes and displaying shameful fights as entertainment. Growing up Greek, which premiered on MTV Wednesday night, isn’t any different.
As a first-generation Greek American, who grew up in Queens, N.Y., I can say the attempt to showcase Greek life is laughable.
The show, set in Tarpon Springs, Fla., features a group of twenty-somethings who hope to demonstrate what it’s like to be raised by a Greek family in America. Instead of offering insight to a population with a rich culture, the premiere fed off of Greek-American clichés, and made the cast look foolish.
The episode emphasized old-school double standards. We hear the father of a female cast member say he’d prefer his daughter to stay home to cook and clean. The Greek tradition of cooking lamb on a spit – commonly done on Easter – is also devalued when cast members laugh at their clumsy attempt to cook the animal on an ordinary day. What’s worse, Greek Americans are portrayed as living in a bubble with no desire for outside interaction.
If anything, the show speaks to a segment of American youth, who focus on partying, drinking and hooking up, behavior that is hardly exclusive to the Greek population.
Many Greek Americans rallied against the show's false depiction of their culture before it even premiered. A petition on Change.org was started calling MTV's latest effort a “gross misrepresentation of what it means to Grow up Greek.” The petition has garnered over 5,000 supporters to date.
While there are some who aren't opposed to the reality show, anger grew from other viewers after it premiered. Many voiced their concerns on Twitter, including one user who wrote, “#GrowingUpGreek is about as Greek as a college frat. That is Greek in name only and nothing about Greeks or Greek-Americans.”
"#GrowingUpGreek is terrible and is nothing how growing up Greek really is," wrote another. "Ha people please don't think we are that dumb!"
The negative feedback mimics concerns with MTV's Jersey Shore, which received similar, if not more, backlash for its portrayal of Italian Americans when it premiered in 2009.
Growing up Greek simply seems to join the reality TV trend - like VH1's Love & Hip Hop - of misrepresenting a group of people and celebrating indecencies.
Watch the full episode of Growing up Greek here.