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TV's Brooklyn Obsession: On The Rise or Overgrown?

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Mar 29, 2012 | 12:05pm EDT

2 Broke Girls Brooklyn Scene"Anyone who says Brooklyn is the new Manhattan... lives in Brooklyn." -Miranda Hobbes

Sure, in the days of Sex and the City, Brooklyn was the joke borough. Manhattan was the promised land. But now, more and more scripted and reality series are finding themselves on the other side of the East River. 

From HBO's upcoming Judd Apatow-produced Girls, to CBS' hit 2 Broke Girls, to the dearly departed Bored to Death, to countless scenes from Gossip Girl and MTV's I Just Want My Pants Back, Brooklyn is swiftly become the land of television opportunity. TV foodie and fisherman, Ben Sargent, is even bringing his Cooking Channel series Hook, Line and Dinner to his hometown (since 2001), to give audiences a glimpse at the wonder that his Brooklyn. 

"I wanted to show the other side to it," he said. "There's the kitch, poppy element ... but there is that other side to Brooklyn ... rougher, edgier." It's a description that falls a little outside of the glamorous hipster paradise we've come to know on television. Gossip Girl taught us Brooklyn is all gorgeous lofts and galleries. I Just Want My Pants Back gives the borough the air of Friends' West Village sexy free-for-all of the 90s. And 2 Broke Girls has a strange, self-combative take: everything is dance parties and hip dive bars, but the subway still looks like it's in a scene from The Warriors. In essence, it's a Hollywood version of New York's new "it" neighborhood. 

But according to Sargent, this cleaner, hipper attitude is extinguishing the neighborhood he once knew — a place in which he once found a dead body in his new apartment. He sees the elements that made Brooklyn the liberal young person's promised land after Manhattan went through its popularization (at the hands of Friends, Felicity and a million other series) quickly being lost. 

Sargent was quick to explain that it's not a matter of not having new, hip establishments crop up all over the borough of the future, it's when it's done in a way that's "heavy-handed" and "not very respectful." There's a way to "share the neighborhood," a way that says "this is yours and mine." And as Brooklyn's popularity increases, and the proliferation of TV iterations can only exacerbate that, soon, "there will be nothing edgy or diverse about it ... it won't be as cool." 

So the only question left now is: did TV show up too late? Or is it TV and Hollywood's interest that will make "living in Williamsburg [Brooklyn] as lame as living on the Upper East Side"?

Hook, Line and Dinner goes to Brooklyn March 29 at 8 PM ET/PT on Cooking Channel.

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