The Real Housewives Of The Bourgeoisie
In 2006, some network executives declared that desperately rich “housewives” were entertaining enough to put on TV and damn, did they stumble onto something. Since then, Bravo's Real Housewives series has been delighting and depressing audiences with its focus on obscene displays of wealth.
Watching people, in this case housewives, deplete entire bank accounts on Louis Vuitton dog purses is the stuff of reality show wet dreams and working class nightmares. (If you’re unfamiliar with the Frankensteinian monster that is this show, be sure to look for a cable company that provides service to people living under rocks.)
So successful is the series that it’s been extended to feature housewives from more than seven cities, including New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, among others; Miami is the latest addition.
When the show came out more than four years ago, I had to ask myself if I would be okay with the fact that my definition of “housewife” was about to be radically transformed. I wasn’t, but I watched anyway.
In the series, the housewives do not carry themselves as housewives. They are vain, cosmetically enhanced, expert money-wasting, abstractions of real women.
The title of the show is ironic because no focus is ever placed on the men to whom the women are wives. I’ve scoured the databases of the world (okay, just Wikipedia) and nowhere do they say that housewives need be so self-centered, their spouses begin to resemble those matte paintings cheap dinner theaters use to simulate scenery, which is fitting because this is exactly how the men function: solely as props.
Sometimes the housewives don’t even have kids or a husband which makes no sense at all if we’re going by the denotative meaning of “wife” and not by a completely fictional definition of the word. Really, Bravo? If I wanted to see an unrealistic depiction of a single woman with no kids, I’d just go back to watching Sex and the City reruns on TBS.
The interactions between housewife and child are among the biggest reasons I let my dog sit on the remote and accidentally flip to the show. Teenagers with their own Escalades at 15, condos at 17 and fully formed alcohol addictions by age 20 are but a few examples of the children and their otherwise unorthodox possessions. The series is simply irresistible to up-and-coming sociologists studying the decline of the American value system.
I don’t have kids myself and Dr. Spock can rest easy in his grave—no one is trying to outdo him, least of all me—but the dynamics are such that I'm actively compiling a full-length guide on parenting based on the mistakes these people make with their kids. My book will basically say, “whatever they do with their kids, don’t. Dear Lord, please don’t.”
The one thing most learned from watching this show is that when money is no object and you’re resigned to a life where you pretend money actually makes you happy, you’ll do your damnedest to make negative gossip with the girls your biggest issue.
In researching for this column, I watched several episodes, but had to mute most of them to prevent inner ear hemorrhaging. The general rule of life is that whenever you combine multiple parts women with multiple parts gossip, the result always sounds the same: like a warehouse filled with angry chickens.
What can we expect to see on the Miami edition of the show? Heavy Cuban accents? Haitian nannies? Several references to the decline in the Everglades’ alligator population? That remains to be seen. But for now, we know to count on insanely vapid women who do a good job of convincing themselves the Botox masks can hide their unhappiness.
I suppose it’s masochistic to go on watching the reckless spending these women commit. Especially when belts on Americans are so tight we’re turning blue. But living vicariously is cheaper than living your own life so stupidly and lucky for us, the rich housewife reality show market is booming.