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.
Posted by Carrie Gross Pestronk at 10:57 PM