Way back in 2003/04, when my college girlfriend and I were living together in D.C. and bearing witness to all sorts of bad behavior on the infrequent occasions when we’d go to the Black Cat to drink Diet 7Up and meet with our napkin folding club, we devised the following concept for a reality television series. The concept has come a long way since then, in that I finally wrote it down, and I hear that other people are actually filming it for HBO. I’m going to wait and see if the HBO thing makes money before I inform Lena Dunham that I registered Poor Girls with the Writer’s Guild seven years ago. In any event, I now bring you…
a derivative, tragicomical, reality-based television series about a trinity of emotionally needy, financially impoverished, artistically confused, professionally aimless, aged-twenty-something female roommates in the big city
LOGLINE: Sex in the City meets Little Orphan Annie.
SYNOPSIS: We document the various Brooklyn-themed misadventures of three attractive, charismatic young ladies at the height of their seductive powers as they struggle to keep money in their pockets, get consistently laid, and preserve their dignity in a metropolitan setting. All three heroines issue from middling-class suburban families, but appear to relish being poor, slutty, and bohemian in their Five Boroughs personas. They also view their penury as crucial to maintaining their increasingly slim figures. Series includes an undercurrent of competition to reveal who can debase herself the most for free drinks, as well as some elements of frenemy. From episode to episode, we watch the girls largely succeed in getting by on their charm and sexual appetites, but they occasionally surrender to a valley of tears (see E. 5, a.k.a. “The Heartbreak Episode”). All three heroines are actively looking for the Oliver Twists to complement their Pippi Longstockings, with a preference for the former to play an Instrument and/or write first chapters of novels while waiting to claim his family inheritance.
We fall in love with Eleanor when we see her updating her private sex diary in a cubicle at FedEx/Kinko’s, where she writes regularly because the staff there doesn’t force her to buy anything, such as bubble wrap or Post-It Notes.
We fall in love with Ashley when she entertains a rare doubt about the long-term propriety of sleeping with so many assholes, and wonders if her new blanket should be electric, like a fence.
We fall in love with Mary-Katherine when we see her make a pit stop in a Midtown cathedral during a Sunday morning walk of shame. We soon gather that she is not there to atone for her sins, but rather to seek the refuge of a clean lavatory, where she can pee and check her hair for cum without having to a buy a Starbucks coffee.
1. We open on frustrated sex between Principal Character Ashley and an unnamed hipster on her air mattress (see Example #1 of Snappy Dialogue). After the gentleman leaves, Ashley plans her search for a real mattress to replace her erotically disappointing Aerobed™. We see an extensive monologue in the confessional room (Eleanor’s closet) about Ashley’s terror of bedbugs, evinced to the degree that she once abstained from casual sex for two months to avoid catching them. “Bedbugs are the AIDS of the 21st century,” she often tells the camera. She texts last night’s unnamed hipster to find out how he feels about street mattresses. She wonders aloud if she can avoid buying a comforter for her bed by investing in thicker pajamas.
2. We see Principal Character Mary-Katherine embrace a new sexual identity as a Craigslist Unicorn. This endangered species is willing to hook up with couples to indulge the wife’s last-ditch efforts to save the marriage. The couple is typically so grateful to its Unicorn that the husband will shower it in gifts and free restaurant dining experiences, often without the wife’s knowledge. Mary-Katherine is empowered by her humanitarian role and we see a montage of her flirting quietly on the internet at a neighborhood cyber-cafe.
3. We watch as Principal Character Eleanor is forced, for an entire week, to wear the whorish boots she bought last Sluttoween because her more practical winter boots are in the boot repair shop and she doesn’t have the cash to get them out. She feels awkward going babysitting in three-inch, transparent heels, although she has to admit that the boots do a fine job of protecting her feet from inclement weather. In this episode’s psychodramatic subplot, Eleanor is disappointed to discover that her new crush’s adult Asberger’s also manifests itself in lovemaking. She had wrongly assumed that her new crush would land on the higher end of the orgasm spectrum.
4. We watch as Ashley copes with the daily trials of being cold and hungry and bored with all her outfits. In this episode she discovers that if she sweet-talks a junior associate lawyer she’s been seeing (“Ryan,” a recurring minor character who fits awkwardly into the Poor Girls universe except on the nights when he’s doling out gratuit lines of coke), she can exchange fitting room blow jobs for cute clothes from Topshop. In a series of rapid cuts, we see Ashley order nothing but hot tea at expensive restaurants and then take the complimentary creams and sugars home to make her lunches with later.
5. Informally known as “The Heartbreak Episode.” When Mary-Katherine meets a man who is poorer, sluttier, and more beautiful than she is on the subway platform, we are right there with her. Three days after their steamy makeout session in the rear of a Dunkin’ Donuts, when he doesn’t respond to her flurry of obscene text messages, she is comforted/vindicated by finding his indie band’s CD in the dollar-bin of a used record store.
6. We watch as Eleanor goes on a quest for cheap condoms, finds Truth along the way.
7. We watch as the girls prepare for an elegant dinner party hosted around their dumpster-dived coffee table. Mary-Katherine, who is responsible for the salad (and bad at keeping up with her laundry), pats dry the romaine lettuce with the same towel that she’d earlier used to dry her hair. We watch with horror as the dinner guests pick damaged, dyed-blonde strands out of their first course. But then the night is redeemed by cheap karaoke around the corner and we rejoice along with the girls, who have by this point become our dear friends.
EXAMPLES OF SNAPPY DIALOGUE:
“This mattress needs more juice,” Ashley says to her latest one-night stand.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” says the one-night stand.
“Don’t worry, doll,” says Ashley. “It’s not as uncomfortable as it looks. It’s like sleeping on a water bed, except with air.”
We hear the roar of the bed’s engine when she plugs it into the wall.
“Voila,” says Ashley, disposing of her bra and panties. “Inflated and ready for fucking.”
“That douchebag came all over my t**s last night,” says Mary-Katherine.
“I thought you were into that,” says Ashley.
“Normally, yeah, but he stained my sheets and you know I just went to the laundromat. Quarters don’t grow on trees in Brooklyn.”
“Who the fuck took my earblugs?” screams a wasted Ashley at 7am after she returns home from a long night of partying.
“Your what now?” says Mary-Katherine, who is making ramen dinner in the kitchen/living area.
“My earblugs! I can hear the family in the wall!”
“Why don’t you just have an orgy with them?” screams back Mary-Katherine. “You do with everyone else!”
Cut to Eleanor’s bedroom, where she’s straddling a groggy, half-naked bartender.
“We’ve got time for a quickie before I have to shower and go to work,” she purrs as she fiddles with what could either be a mole or his third nipple.
The bartender stares up at her blankly, stupidly, as if she is a ceiling tile.
“Did you hear me?” says Eleanor. “I said wake up and fuck me before my babysitting job.”
At his leisure the bartender removes the earplugs one by one from his ear sockets.
“Hm?” he says. “Are you talking?”
“Jesus Christ,” says Eleanor, and jumps up to borrow a condom from one of her roommates.
Eleanor’s Truth (see E. 6) turns out to be scabies.