I like reality tv. I’m not especially proud to admit this, but it is what it is. I have a particular weakness for the BravoTV suite of offerings. I’ve got my Top Chefs, Real Housewives, Millionaire’s, Rachel’s, Tabatha’s, Jeff’s, Bethenney’s, and WWH's tivo’d to catch every new season. To say that Andy Cohen has me in the palm of his hand (the one that’s not holding the cocktail) is somewhat of an understatement.
Before you jump to judge me (and there’s a lot to judge here), let me clarify something. I’m selective with my reality viewing. Yes, I, of all people, have standards that I adhere to, however loose (and ever-shifting) they may be. These standards have less to do with the show and more to do with my mood. Or maybe it has to do with the show being on hiatus...hadn't thought of that. Anyway, because of my fickle high-horsedness (combined with my irrational hatred of re-runs), it turns out I don’t spend as much time as you would think watching trash tv. There’s plenty of time for intellectually stimulating television such as Modern Family, Spongebob Squarepants, and Battlestar Galactica.
Battlestar Galactica probably needs a little explaining. Every Friday night, we get together with our neighbors to watch a couple of BSG (that’s what the cool kids call it) episodes, and I’ve got to say (this is perhaps even more embarrassing to admit) that I am totally into it. Frak yeah! Right now we’re up to the part where Starbuck gets kidnapped by the cylons and is introduced to the child they created from her egg when she was earlier abducted and sent to be harvested at The Farm. So good. I’m a total nerd.
Anyway, let's get back on track. A highly esteemed colleague and I were discussing the trials and tribulations of the latest cast of Housewives (namely Kyle, Kim, Lisa, Taylor, and Brandi…hello…Beverly Hills, dahling), which led to a discussion of the utterly raunchy Atlanta Housewives episode I stumbled upon last week. As we debated the authenticity of Kandi’s mother’s reaction to Phaedra’s choice of birthday entertainment, it occurred to me that (being the student of human nature that I am) there are a number of learnings I think we can all benefit from, thanks to the many housewives we’ve seen come and go over the years.
And so follows my guide to navigating those Housewife potholes, should Andy ever ask me to join the franchise:
- · Physical theatrics, such as high-pitched “woo-hoos”, repeated leg splits, and cowboy-roping ponytails will be perceived as attempts to get attention; keep these to a minimum, and preferably off-camera.
- · Constant hair-touching is one of those nearly subliminal “I’m insecure” messages that everyone picks up on.
- · Lucky enough to be well-received in your first year as a housewife? Don’t get too comfortable, because you’re sure to crash and burn in your second year. Each location has a story to tell: Jill in New York, Kyle in Beverly Hills, Tamra in Orange County. Play your cards carefully, my friend, and don’t get a big head.
- · Poorly-received in your first year as a housewife? Consider yourself lucky. Bad blood seems to magically disappear, friendships bloom, and message boards are suddenly kinder in your second year. A combination of friendlier editing and improved personal filtering seems to be the culprit for the second year shift. Alex in NY is a good example of this. I can’t think of many more examples than that, because, honestly, it’s more fun to remember the ones that crash and burn (see previous bullet) rather than the ones that rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
- · With great wealth comes great responsibility. Should I ever be fortunate enough to amass wealth as great as these housewives, I promise to give back to the community and help those less fortunate than me. As long as it doesn’t intrude on my lifestyle or personal spending habits.
- · Love scenes, ranging from a foot rub to a private lingerie showing to a bathtub scene are gag-inducing to all viewers. They’re probably gag-inducing even to the participants (who are watching at home, months later). Don’t even kiss on tv. Let the real actors do their jobs.
- · Do not brag about how everything is so attainable. When you’ve come from a privileged environment and were groomed to be everything you have turned out to be, claiming “you can have it all” is a little insulting. Same goes for the wives who married into wealth. Find me a successful housewife who had no help filling out her state college application, and then I’ll admiringly listen to her say “you can have it all”.
- · Money can’t buy you class. But it can buy you a clothing line, a singing career, and a modeling contract
- · It is never in good taste to accuse another female of being a crack head, a thief, a liar, or a man, no matter how deep the voice.
- · Wigs and weaves are easy targets, both in verbal sparring and in physical attacks.
- · The BravoTV audience is like a wild herd of spirited mustangs. They’ll turn on you in an instant. This can either work in your favor or against you.
- · We’re all flawed, money or not. Editing will only magnify these flaws. It’s part of the deal.
- · Never treat your pets like they're humans. This includes, but is not limited to, sharing your fork, spoon, knife or plate with them. Or encouraging them to drink from your neighbor's best crystal.
These guidelines are based on years of housewife slip-ups, fights, and regrets. But it’s not comprehensive. I’ll bet you can think of more.