Walk from Manhattan to Ridgewood on Queensboro Bridge while passing the Unisphere…
Upon hearing that new Fox’s TV show, Weird Loners would showcase my hometown, Ridgewood (though filmed at a set in Los Angeles), I was intrigued, but a little skeptical.
“How would they be able to pull this off? Are one of the writers from Ridgewood?” I wondered. I knew that they were going to use a set, but the only way I could solve this mystery was to watch the damn show.
Luckily for me, Queens Tavern and Ridgewood Social were holding a screening of the premiere last night. It was convenient since I live near the bar, and I figured I could just run home if I really hated the show. Once I arrived, people were handing out noisemakers to use during the premiere. Here were the rules for the viewing:
Use the makers when they show what looks to be Ridgewood.
Take a drink when someone’s apartment was incredibly big.
Once the show started, there were some shots of New York City, and we met all the characters. There’s Caryn, a dental hygienist who can’t get a relationship right. Stosh, a sex addict who just lost his job. Zara, an artist that can’t handle a relationship for too long. And finally Eric, Stosh’s doofy cousin, who’s dad died while the two were watching a Mets game (Queens stereotype!!).
When we finally saw the Ridgewood set, it wasn’t really accurate. The set reminded me of the New York set in How I Met Your Mother (did they use the same one?). It was just fake on so many levels like the stoops to the apartments were ridiculously huge. The only thing I think the set designers got right, was the construction of the one/three family apartment buildings in this beloved neighborhood. There’s a certain curve on the houses here, which I’m happy the show included. The tavern viewers also agreed that Eric’s late father’s apartment was very Ridgewood-y, mainly due to the abundance of tchotchki’s.
Another aspect of the show that was somewhat reminiscent of Ridgewood, was the prominent Polish community. Eric and Stosh share the Polish last name, Lewandowski, and it’s the pair speaks Polish-sounding Gibberish in the trailer for the show.
Other than those rare occurrences, Weird Loners didn’t try very hard to disguise that they were filming in LA. You could almost see the palm trees in a few of the outside shots.
But what bothered me the most about the show was the skewed vision of Ridgewood. When Eric buys a large piece of art from Zara, he stumbles and has a tough time carrying it. Zara then asks him: “How long do you have to walk with that thing?” and Eric replies by saying that he only has to “go over the bridge to Queens.” Yes, when you cross the Queensboro Bridge from Midtown Manhattan, you’re in Queens. However, the bridge ends in Long Island City, not Ridgewood. It would take you two-hours to walk from LIC to RGWD. No one in their right mind would do that.
Another misunderstood setting, happens towards the end of the show. When Caryn breaks off her engagement (which didn’t make sense because she was on a date with someone else earlier), the break up happens in her massive Ridgewood apartment, and then the show cuts to her walking around the world famous Unisphere. The entire tavern audience literally yelled at the giant screen, because this dynamic was utterly ridiculous. If anyone knows Queens, they know that the Unisphere isn’t even close to Ridgewood! IT’S IN FLUSHING MEADOWS!
Let’s be clear, Ridgewood is like the forgotten neighborhood of Queens. It’s quiet, almost suburban, and it’s close to Brooklyn. If you don’t have a car in Ridgewood, you have to take a bus and/or a train just to get to another Queens neighborhood. Weird Loners’ pilot proved that they have only a very superficial knowledge about this neighborhood, that’s home to many. None of the characters uttered the word, Ridgewood. Some writer of the show probably read that New York Times “Quooklyn” article, and decided that Ridgewood was an up-and-coming neighborhood for hip loners.
Maybe Ridgewood’s presence will grow with the show, but I don’t see it going very far. I do hope that Ridgewood Social continues to host weekly screenings, because the audience reactions were truly entertaining.