For the past six or eight months or so, I’ve had a delightful ritual. Once a week, I bust out a glass of wine, sit down in front of the TV, and get my Real Housewives on. I did this throughout “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” season, and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
But never the “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”
Please. That shit is garbage.
Anyway, I’m writing today to tell you a little but about why I love these shows so much. Curiously, I don’t get much shit for watching them from people I know, possibly because I don’t give a fuck what anybody else thinks about my television watching habits. Here’s the thing – my defensive line, if you will – I know that if I wanted to sit down and revisit “Anna Karenina,” I could, and I would understand (again) what’s happening, and I would be moved (again) by the story, and it would cause me to think (again) about deep things in life, and relationships, and the world, and love and sex and death and despair and tragedy and beauty.
And because I’m secure enough to know that I’m capable of all of those things, and because I actually do read and think about those things at other times, I allow myself to indulge in something that makes me think very little, that only serves to rile me up in the most shallow way possible, and that is just vapid, ridiculous fun.
It’s like Michelle Obama always says – everything in moderation.
So, now that we have that out of the way, this is what I love about the Real Housewives.
First of all. No matter how much we all doth protest, the Real Housewives capitalizes on something very common – the intricacies of female friendships. Because you guys, and fuck you if you argue with me on this one, female friendships can be fucked up. They can be complicated as shit. They can be mean and nasty, they can be incredible and supportive, they can be healthy and unhealthy. What Real Housewives manages to do is put those friendships in a Petri dish, magnify them to within inches of their natural lives, draw out the drama and the tension, make it worse by inserting pushy producers into the mix (can you imagine if you had producers making your real-life drama worse?), and then film it. So basically, you’re watching everything that you already know to be true, but multiplied by a thousand.
Let me give you an example. On “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” there’s a character named Kyle Richards. Kyle used to be moderately cool, but last season, she really flipped the switch and became an utterly intolerable heinous bitch. How? By insisting that she knew what was best for everybody, all the time, refusing to acknowledge how controlling she was, and then crying – crying! – when things didn’t go the way she tried to make them go.
Now, I know that reality TV is edited, so yadda yadda maybe that’s not how she really is yadda yadda reality TV isn’t real yadda yadda I DON’T FUCKING CARE. As far as I’m concerned, Kyle was how she appeared on TV – but that’s not really the point. The point is this: I will be damned if I didn’t have a friend who behaved exactly like Kyle. Granted, she was toned down a bit, because she was IRL, but the mannerisms, the manipulation, the madness, all of it was there!
So you see, whether the characters are real versions of themselves or not, they represent kernels of truth in other people, anyway, and that is real enough for me.
OK. That’s one thing I love. Here’s another – gossip. I try not to gossip in real life. I really do. I think gossip is kind of shitty. I also try not to talk about people behind their backs. Also shitty. But you know what’s not shitty? Watching other people do it and living vicariously. If you’re willing to go on reality TV, you are fair game to be talked about, as far as I’m concerned. This way, you see, I get my gossip-y side out without actually hurting anyone – or, at least, without doing anything that any reality star shouldn’t have known would be done to them when they signed on for the show.
In other words, reality TV is actually making me a better person.
Here’s the third and final thing I’ll talk about with regard to the Real Housewives, and this is what made New Jersey and Beverly Hills watchable while as far as I can tell, Orange County is a steaming pile of shit: some of the characters have actual, real, bad problems. Of course, on Beverly Hills, we all know that the problem was that Taylor’s husband was beating the shit out of her, and that he later committed suicide. But this problem allowed me to watch the show and actually think about some things that are pertinent to our modern-day world – like, should they actually be airing footage of a dead man?
Should Taylor be talking so openly about the fact that said dead man beat her?
Is this good for the world, or bad?
With New Jersey, the question really always is, is it possible that Theresa really is as stupid as she seems? Because surely not. SURELY NOT. Can anyone be that stupid?
Also, why is Jacqueline such a bad parent? How could she improver her parenting skills? What might I do differently?
Anyway, you see how these are pressing concerns, and of course you also see how thinking about them makes me a wiser and more productive member of society.
So, what about you? Do you watch reality TV? The Real Housewives? Why or why not? Go.