Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Staying Power of the Real Housewives...

(Cynthia from The Real Housewives of Atlanta just might be the most gorgeous housewife in the history of the franchise...AND she's very nice)

I'm somewhat loathe to admit my fascination with the Real Housewives. It started out innocently enough - checking out that first season of the Real Housewives of Orange County, and one episode stretched into me watching most of the first season and that required me to watch season two and so on. Next came New York, and that was equally fascinating. And then Atlanta caught my fancy. New Jersey wasn't as good, but I still watched. DC was borderline boring, but still I persevered. And Miami wasn't all that great either...but I still watched every episode. Then came Beverly Hills and once again, I was in love with the franchise. When people talk about having a "guilty pleasure"...boy do I ever.

(I miss having Bethenny on the Real Housewives of New York, but I love her spin-off, Bethenny Ever After...Ramona is a kick)
And I'm not alone. I know many women who watch this show - some openly, and some in secret. The ones who watch in secret are funny. Because when they find out you watch it too it's like a relief to confess their secret to someone.

(I used to really dislike Sheree from the Real Housewives of Atlanta, but her relative poverty after her divorce from her NFL Football playing husband seems to have humbled her a tad)

Why are we slightly embarassed? Well, because on the face of it, it doesn't seem like there's all that much worthy of defending. Wealthy women, complaining slightly about their spoiled "princess problems", driving ridiculously over-expensive vehicles, living in houses which are bigger than anyone really needs, conspicuously consuming, often seemingly vapid, extra concerned with appearance and looks over substance, and pretty much out of touch with the average person. What's to like? And how can you really defend liking a show which focuses on those things season after season.

(tamra from the real housewives of orange county was always easy to dislike until it became obvious she was married to a control freak who wasn't a particularly nice guy...her recent divorce and financial distress has significantly upped her likeability factor)

It's tempting to laugh it off by saying we like the fashion (because actually, we do). Or that we like the peek inside the grand homes (because we like that too). The shoes, the cars, the jewelry, the make-up, the hair, the restaurants, the vacations...check, check, check, check, check, check and check. But is that really it?

(I can never quite decide if I should like Jill or not. But most of the time I do. Even though she's incredibly wealthy, there's a vulnerability that kind of seeps through. At the end of the day, Jill seems to want to be liked, and that's always endearing in a person)

Because I can kind of defend that. You know, it's escapism, just like most other tv programming and other forms of entertainment. But I don't really think that's all there is to it.
Television is full of cookie cutter wives and marriages and single women with pretty hair and nice furniture. We don't need the Real Housewives for that actually. It's a side benefit, and admittedly, these are real women, so the allure is a little different, but still...I don't think that's it.

(Kim is super close to my age, and I remember her from her childhood acting gigs in Disney films, notably, Escape from Witch Mountain, which was one of my favorites...her aging shows more than most of the Beverly Hills compatriots...which is...oddly refreshing)

I think it's because this might be one of the only shows that address real issues of real women in the 40+ age range. True, a few of the wives are younger than 40, but not most of them. Most of them are my age. And as I get older there are less and less women on tv or in movies who are in my age range. Of course, these women have opted to get injections and plastic surgery, whereas, I have not. But I still find myself relating. And I can sort of see them aging (even Restylane and Botox can't hide everything). And in a weird way...it's refreshing. And you see with your own eyes that having an Hermes purse and a Bentley doesn't prevent you from having many of the same problems everyone else has. And this, though we may not want to admit it, makes us feel better somehow.

(the level of wealth on the Beverly Hills franchise is rather astounding, Lisa Vanderpump being one of the wealthier ladies on the show. But she seems truly kind hearted and rather funny. I like her.)

And many of these ladies are likeable. Relatable. Some of them even make me laugh out loud. (I love me some Nene).

(If I could pick one housewife to hang out with for one day, it would obviously be Ms. Nene. Keeps me laughing)

So long live the housewives. I for one will be watching as long as Bravo wants to keep bringing me updates of the franchise.

(I miss Jeana Keough who was on the Orange County franchise for quite a while. She was vulnerable and full of "issues" and I often related to her)

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