A Quick Guide to the Real Housewives TV Franchise
What Are the Real Housewives?
If you've never seen any of the Real Housewives show, there are a few things you need to know. Firstly, very few of them are really housewives. Secondly, they aren't very real. Most of them are plastic-y, fake women who try to pretend they have a lot more money and influence than they really have. In other words, they're probably like 90 percent of the women you know in real life.
So, what's the draw? What's fascinating to me about the Real Housewives TV shows is that you get to see how women in different parts of the country live, what they value and how they dress, act and speak. All of these factors vary greatly with the geographical region, but a lot of things stay the same. All of the housewives are concerned with their status and how they are perceived by the other women. All of them gossip about each other and all of them get mad when they find out that they too are being gossiped about. So again, it's much like any other circle of women in any other area of the country.
If you have seen any of the Real Housewives shows, you may enjoy this general re-cap of the tone and characters in each. If you disagree with any of the assessments, please feel free to leave me a comment with your own assessment.
The Real Housewives of New York
The Real Housewives of New York is one of the most fascinating of the housewife series for anyone who doesn't live in New York. Actually, I know someone in New York who finds it fascinating because she "sees women like that all the time and I want to see how they really live." Seeing the inside of their homes and learning about their ritual excursions to the Hamptons is interesting to anyone who doesn't live that way. The inside of their New York homes is probably impressive to anyone who lives in New York, as they probably are enormously expensive, but for anyone outside New York, not so much. OMG, you have a walk in closet! Amazing! Yeah. I have five of them. But in New York, this is apparently something special. Apparently, outfitting your home like a red-and-black bordello is also considered chic and understated.
One of the housewives, a countess by marriage, is even tempered and dim, adding a very small amount of class to a group that is sorely lacking in it. Most of the housewives wear outfits reminiscent of the better outfits on Sex and the City, including the stilettos and tiny dresses. Unlike some of the series, It's a fun and light hearted series most of the time.
However, like many groups of women, the Real Housewives of New York have polarized themselves into two adversarial groups. This group and that group don't interact much anymore unless someone is "trying to make peace." I've seen this happen in groups of women so many times that it all rings very true.
Most of the housewives are relatable in some way, except perhaps the villainous, evil Kelly (dumb-as-dirt ex-model) and the creepy Alex with her trailer-park style and her gross husband.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey
The feud between the Real Housewives of New Jersey is so legendary that it's spilling out into the gossip rags, entertainment shows and just about everywhere else. Here is the gist of the feud: a large and sprawling family full of real estate developers who pay for everything with large amounts of cash (cough...mafia...cough) have all decided that one of the housewives, someone not in the family, is dangerous and unapproachable. This all stems from a book written in the 80s about her criminal activities when she was in her early 20s. They find her so "dangerous" that they literally chase her around events screeching at her. The daughter of one of these "ladies" grabbed her hair and pulled out some of her weave. Weave pulling!
Is she really that dangerous? Well, she does travel with bodyguards who (cough...mafia...cough) are enormous and allude to all of the shady people they know. Of course, that is in response to being chased, screamed at and name called by the other housewives. Going up against any of the (alleged mafia) wives alone, I'd do the same.
The story today is that the entire cast has threatened to leave the show unless the "dangerous" one is fired. And guess what? She was. No more Danielle for the New Jersey franchise. So now, there's really no story except the voyeurism of looking at these painted-orange women and their tacky, icky homes full of every ostentatious thing that a 10-year-old would think is elegant. Yeah, I'll still watch.
The Real Housewives of D.C.
The second-newest of the Real Housewives franchise, this one is already proving to be one of the most fascinating. The Real Housewives of D.C. focuses on the wealthy and semi-wealthy women who surround the people who surround the power in D.C. (yes, it really is that convoluted). As one of the housewives said at the beginning of the series, in D.C. it's all about how close you are to the White House. None of these women are all that close, though one is married to the official White House photographer and one has a history of sneaking into important events that feature the president. Yes, the White House party crashers are on this show, and yes, they are creepy and weird.
This show is punctuated by the sensible words of a mature modeling agency owner who seems to be the only one who can control her temper. Her even-tempered nature is a stark contrast to the excitability of the other housewives and only showcases how ridiculous some of them act when it certainly isn't warranted. Someone said you were thin?! OMG! Freak out!
The White House party crashers seem to have some deep secrets in their closets and appear to lie quite a bit about what they are doing and what they have done in the past. When one cast member recounted a story about them crashing another important event, the alleged party crasher wife immediately said it was all a lie. Really? And then everyone else lied when you did it again? That's terribly convenient.
The D.C. style seems to be formal and reserved and never ostentatious like the Orange County or New Jersey women's styles. The homes are nice but understated and the women aren't so over-the-top that you can't relate to them. Except the British one. Whoa.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Girlfriend, I lived in Atlanta, and I can tell you that these women are pretty good representations of Atlanta style and the way that the glamourous try to create some society in Atlanta. The city is large and fast paced, but it is so spread out that there is no real societal center. You see these women try to create events in their home only to fail, try to head downtown to throw events are fail and try to throw together big parties and fail.
One thing that is funny to me is how horrendous the customer service is around them. Customer service may be dead anywhere else, but in Atlanta, it's viscous. Seeing them women actually cursed out by someone who was working for them to plan a party or cut their hair just makes me laugh. I had that happen so many times in Atlanta, and it's actually kind of good to know that it isn't just because I'm white. It happens to everyone there. It's one of the reasons that I fled that place as quickly as I could.
The women on The Real Housewives of Atlanta have the big homes that so many of us have in the South, often situated around lakes and surrounded by trees. It's a familiar scene, though most of these women have the cash to outfit them in true grand Southern style.
What's funny to me about this series is how badly these women do everything. They can't throw a decent fashion show, party, charity event, or even a barbecue without some major failure. Personally, they have less infighting than on some series, though the infighting does get a little more viscous than on the other series. The row between Ne Ne and Kim is really one of the focal points of the Atlanta series, with self-obsessed Kim becoming the focus of intense anger by the usually-calm Ne Ne for no real reason. After the police were called to an altercation between the two, they apparently have decided to call a truce for now. We'll see.
The Real Housewives of Orange County
While marital relationships do genuinely seem to be important and treasured by the housewives of the other locations, that doesn't always seem true of the Real Housewives of Orange County. While I have seen fewer of this series than of the other ones, the point that really struck me about this one is how shallow and insincere these women are. Their relationships are gold digging at best and fraud at worst. They are after one thing from their men- money. Whether they actually get along or not is immaterial to their quest for the most stuff.
The style of these women is kind of early-80s chic. Most of them have long blonde hair and they all wear simple, monochromatic dresses with a large fake jewel in the middle. This look is worn so often that its a kind of uniform that they all must wear to feel secure and a part of the larger Orange County group.
Intellectually, well, wow. No. There is no intellect present. Only one of them seems to have had any education or ambition, and the rest are vacuous air heads with no real ideas about where their lives are going or how to improve themselves other than having more plastic surgery. It's not the most compelling version of the series.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is now the new kid on the RHW block, but it is quickly shaping up to be the fan favorite of the series. Simply put, the women from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are what the women on every other RHW series pretend to be. They really are wealthy and well connected and stylish. The Atlanta women look like hobos next to these women, and the New Jersey women are just laughable when you consider the style and clout of the Beverly Hills crowd.
They live in mansions like most of the other women have probably never even seen before. I read recently that one of them, Lisa (the British one), is looking to sell her 12,000-square-foot house for $29 million. Another one lives in a mansion on a 17-acre plot in Malibu and owns four other houses. They throw parties like no one else in the series could or would. One of the wealthiest women on the show (though certainly not THE wealthiest), threw a lavish birthday party for her four-year-old daughter. The price tag? $60,000.
Like a few of the other shows in the franchise, this one has a clear villain. The evil, egotistical Camille Grammar (Kelsey Grammar's spurned wife), took over the villain spot so early and so completely I actually started to wonder whether she was asked to do so in order to create the villain character for the show. She is the least likable person I have ever seen on a reality show, and apparently America agrees. Surely no one could be that awful, could they? What do you think?