Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Real Housewives of New York

Eavesdropping a few weeks ago I listened to two girls, perhaps a little older than me, each with a Bugaboo, a baby and a Prada diaper bag dissing some women. “Ramona is the biggest sociopath ever!” one said to other brunette girl in the Uggs.

“Ugh, but you know who is worse? That misery See-You-Next-Tuesday chick, Alex. She is such a joke. She doesn’t even live in New York!” I was trying to decide between Ballet Slippers and Mademoiselle at a nail salon on 3rd Avenue as I listened in. Who were these horrible women that were being spoken of in such horrendous terms? “Did you Tivo last week?” the shorter girl with the ringlet curls and Uggs asked. “No,” the other one answered as she fished a pacifier from her bag. “But I went on Bravo’s site to see when it was airing again.”

I found a new show for my repertoire of BDTV (Brain Dead TV) – Bravo’s new series, The Real Housewives of New York City. First we had Desperate Housewives, and if the fictional version was not enough, enter – The Real Housewives of Orange County which served the needs of the post-pubescent OC followers. It was only a matter of time until producers tapped the New York City world of glamour and excess to create a series set in the Big Apple.

The Real Housewives of New York City follows five New York City women through the concrete jungle of juggling career, family, children and the jungle gym of social-ladder climbing on the playground of the rich and famous. This reality series is as comical as any other, encroaching on the overblown exaggeration of stereotypes and extremes found on Flavor of Love.

Described on Bravo’s website: Bravo is heading to “The Big Apple” with The Real Housewives of New York City. The new series features an elite and powerful set of New York socialites as they juggle their careers and home lives with busy calendars packed with charity fund-raising galas, the social whirl of the Hamptons, and interviews for elite private schools. These driven and ambitious women show everyone what it takes to make it in the upper echelon of society, where money and status are an essential way of life.

The series takes an up-close and personal look at a lifestyle where private chefs, Au Pairs, front row seats at Fashion Week and Hamptons estates are part of everyday life. The Real Housewives of New York City follows five glamorous Manhattan women - Alex, Bethenny, Jill, LuAnn, and Ramona - as they balance motherhood, demanding careers, and a fast-paced social calendar, and shows what life is like in the most exclusive areas of New York.

I could say I watch it solely to see familiar hotspots – a few gathered at T-Bar on the Upper East Side for drinks and flirting with men other than their husbands, but that would be false. I could say I watch the show, or actually DVR the series because everyone enjoys good train-wreck reality TV, but that would only be part of the truth. I watch the show, in fact I enjoy the show, because it truly gives you the fly-on-the-wall view of your Upper East Side neighbors. As a new “New York City Housewife” myself, I am compelled to watch the show…and grow ever more grateful for my semi-charmed kind of life.

Of course the show is choked full of all the stereotypical characters which call 10021 home. The same way 90210 kept me riveted to my Laura Ashley bedspread in high school as I watched the Thursday night series on my 12 inch TV, The Real Housewives of NYC keeps me glued to my Mies Van de Rohe daybed and my plasma screen TV. It is part of the evolution of watching life’s little peepshow.

I am sure the show offends many people since it blatantly focuses on the superficiality and banal expenditures of this sect’s lifestyle. I am sure people are trashing these women in private gyms, nail salons and general stores from Madison Avenue to Main Street, North Dakota. “Oh how horrible they are with their fancy Hampton houses and their nannies and their private planes. What shallow bitches!” I can hear it echoed from coast to coast. In the same vein that people criticized 90210 and all the other shows before and after for their portrayal of the highlife. But secretly, these people who mock and maim watch the show, they are the audience, the target market. They watch for whatever reason, be it curiosity or intrigue or jealousy or needing a reason and a person to hate. That is why Reality TV came to be, that is why Omarosa still makes appearances long after her 15 minutes of fame ended, that is why Reality TV shows and its villains are more ubiquitous than the once familiar tune of the good ole sitcom.

People love to hate, and they will always tune in to find a reason to hate someone more.


Anonymous said...

so true. i love the show. but i love to watch it cause i love to hate on some of those ladies. they are self absorbed but it makes for awesome reality tv

Anonymous said...

I don't think you have it quite right. You suggest people will hate them for their houses in the Hamptons, etc . . .

I don't hate them, but neither do I especially admire them.

They are similar to many people I know, except with even more money.

A couple of them seem more clueless than I would have thought possible . . . expecially the one who openly admits that she and her husband are looking to meet people in higher and higher circles and status.

It's not the kind of thing a sensible person says out loud. With a couple of exceptions, most of these women are obviously on the periphery of "society" and are trying to ascend.

Somehow, I don't think a reality show is going to grant them the key to "higher and higher" levels of society.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the first commenter. These women do not represent the upper echelons of NY, nor do they represent the UES--at least not the one that I grew up in. Ramona and Jill are B&T all the way, and somewhat pathetic in their attempts to seem like they belong in the UES. The one who lives in Brooklyn would be considered weird in any circle, and so would her husband. Betheny seems pretty cool, but doesn't claim to represent NY or the UES. The only one who legitimately represents what the rest of them try so hard for is Luann. She is the only real upper east sider.

girl said...

i love this show as well, even though i don't enjoy it as much as its older sister.

the climbing mentality of some of these, along with the clearly "better than thou" mentality of others just makes it a riot to watch. you know exactly which characters i'm referring to even with that vague comment!

UES Beyotch said...

I love this show and especially seeing where all the scenes are shot. I think they are pretty tacky, especially Ramona. The fact that most of them live on the UES is even more interesting. I loved the OC version even more, probably because it is such an escape.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm the viewer who said a couple of them seem clueless.

As the series goes on, their humanity comes through more.

I actually like Jill the most, because I think she is very "real".

Luann is gracious, but needs to teach her children that they can't shove their chores onto the housekeeper (the dog).

Alex is very difficult for me to relate to. I am not bothered by her husband wanting to go everywhere. It's "different", but so what? Their naked social climbing is embarrassing, but they don't seem to be meanspirited at all.

Ramona shocked me the most, but they are beginning to let the viewer in on how she thinks. She definitely makes the most mistakes socially.

Betheny has issues, but is intelligent and FUNNY! Did you see her "ghetto talk" impersonation at the dinner party after Ramona left?