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Bravo's 'Gallery Girls' Bring 'Real Housewives' Drama to New York Art Scene

The reality series, premiering Monday, pits Brooklyn against Manhattan as artsier-than-thou egos collide; THR interviews the cast.

Gallery Girls Cast - H 2012
Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

There's a scene in the premiere of Bravo's Gallery Girls where two factions -- young, artsy women from Manhattan and young, artsy women from Brooklyn -- engage in awkward, stilted conversation at a merlot-and-soft cheese party. In standard reality-TV form, they make fun of each other via catty camera confessionals afterward.

Angela Pham, a photographer, model and self-described exhibitionist who dares to wear pasties under a see-through bodysuit, says Liz Margulies -- an acid-tongued Upper East Sider whose rich father collects Picassos -- resembles a manicured blonde by way of California's Orange County.

Margulies mocks Claudia Martinez Reardon, who runs an independent art space on the super-hip, super-grungy Lower East Side, for exposing the thong she's wearing underneath her super-hip, super-grungy black dress.

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It's like the Real Housewives of New York City in terms of location and cattiness and frosty face-offs that seem staged to produce dramatic sparks, as in, "Let's throw that person and that person in a room together and see what happens." However, the Gallery Girls are single strivers in their early-to-mid-twenties (sorry, Ramona) and the premise more niche: the series follows its seven subjects as they navigate the Big Apple's sometimes-brutal art world and highlights a Manhattan-Brooklyn rivalry in which social-climbing prepsters clash with anti-Establishment hipsters.

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed cast members ahead of Monday's Gallery Girls debut, kicking off at 10 p.m. ET.

"That’s not my scene," Margulies, who works as a graphic designer and interned at Soho's Eli Klein Fine Art while on the show, tells THR of Brooklyn. "I don’t like going to dive bars. It’s just a whole different atmosphere. And that tends to go with sort of being a free spirit-y, artsy type of person, and that’s not really me. I wear makeup, I like designer clothing, I like to do my hair. You know, I just don’t roll out of bed and not brush my hair and put red lipstick on. I have to do my hair, wear makeup, wear heels, that’s just how I am."

But Liz takes equal aim at her own kind. In the first episode, the 25-year-old alpha girl and Bravo's answer to Blair Waldorf snipes that fellow Manhattanite Amy Poliakoff is a brown-nosing sycophant with a drinking problem. ("I wasn't that drunk. I had two glasses of wine" at dinner, Poliakoff tells the Miami New Times, adding of Liz: "I hope one day she becomes mature.")

"I don't care about her," responds Margulies, noting that she has zero interest in being Poliakoff's friend.

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Cue more in-fighting within Reardon's circle as she frets over money issues with Chantal Chadwick, co-owner of the End of Century gallery. After all, her parents invested $15,000 into the business and, frustratingly, Chadwick -- a smug Olsen twin lookalike who brags she's lived on her own in New York since her teen years -- does not seem to care nor have her priorities in order.

The two met through a mutual friend several years ago, and Gallery Girls documents the venue's grand opening, which renders Reardon panic-stricken and Chadwick unfazed.

“It’s still a struggle," Reardon tells THR. "End of Century is definitely -- it’s no cash cow.  … It’s going much better. It’s been a really, really interesting learning process, I think, over the time that I’ve been working on it. Because it isn’t just a business. It’s a business amongst friends, with friends, in a particular community of young artists. It’s definitely not a boring job.”

Watch the Gallery Girls season promo at the link, and check out some cast stats below:

Liz Margulies:

Hometown: Miami

Affiliated borough: Manhattan

Statement of self-awareness: "People usually judge me. Usually I got a lot of, ‘oh, you’re not what I expected you to be at all just from looking at you.’  ... Girls that look like me maybe don’t have a lot of substance."

Chantal Chadwick:

Hometown: Atlanta

Affiliated borough: Brooklyn

Diva moment: Giving Liz the cold shoulder at the End of Century opening.

Angela Pham:

Hometown: Orange County, Calif.

Affiliated borough: Brooklyn

Statement of self-awareness: “I would like to make money from reality TV, like appearances at clubs in Las Vegas and just make a lot of money. That’s all I want to do. ... I’m not on any Kim Kardashian level yet but I have to come out with a sex tape first. So maybe that’s in the works."

Amy Poliakoff:

Hometown: Coral Gables, Fla.

Affiliated borough: Manhattan

Cringe-worthy moment: Those two glasses of wine.

Kerri Lisa:

Hometown: Long Island, N.Y.

Affiliated borough: Manhattan

Diva moment: None yet. The sweet-natured, hard-working aspiring gallerist lacks the security blanket of family money -- not to mention Liz and Amy's silver-spoon pedigree -- but she's got hustle to spare.

Maggie Schaffer:

Hometown: Easton, Pa.

Affiliated borough: Manhattan

Cringe-worthy moment: Looks like we've got a Boyfriend Girl on our hands. Promos for the season show Maggie undergoing a rough patch with her beefcake beau ... and crying in the bathroom.

Claudia Martinez Reardon:

Hometown: Flossmore, Ill.

Affiliated borough: Brooklyn

On becoming friends with Liz, even though Liz mocked her exposed thong: “It’s something that we can laugh about now! We definitely didn’t get along when we first met.”