Be careful what you wish for. For years, I’ve been wondering what the whole “Real World”-“Jersey Shore” format might look like with more natural footage, some truly interesting people, and fewer contrived situations. Instead of casting for type and twisting material to create plot lines, what if MTV took a slightly more documentary approach? What if it came up with a more honest portrait of a neighborhood, its young people, and its culture?
“Washington Heights,” which premieres Wednesday night at 10, may be the answer to that question. And it’s a bit of a mess. I found myself wishing that the series, which tracks a loosely knit group of nine friends in the Washington Heights area of New York, actually had more direction. It’s a muddle of material in need of a point — nine characters in search of an author — as the gang attend one another’s concerts and barbecues and talk aimlessly about nothing in particular. There’s no narrative drive, no proper introductions, no focus. The show is a glorified version of the random videos we shoot of our lives and our friends, aware they’ll be boring to anyone else.