Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Realness of the Real Housewives
Tonight marks the return of my favorite guilty pleasure: The Real Housewives of New York City. RH: NYC was my gateway into Real Housewives franchises and the other Bravo reality shows that showcase rich people acting trashy, a market Bravo has really cornered.
I think what separates the RH series from the others is the fierce individuality of the women who participate. Almost all the women who participate in the series have one like trait: They all have a very strong sense of themselves that does not necessarily sync up to what the reality of their lives is. Many times, the funniest moments are when the Housewife sees herself one way but comes across another way. Usually, this ends in some sort of altercation with another member of the cast.
Their affluence is almost secondary in the series. Sometimes the producers will throw in an aside about how much something costs or the extravagance of their lifestyles. However, I think Bravo has realized that's not why people tune in. In my opinion, people tune in to see self-indulgent acting badly in order to feel better about themselves. Well, I may have debt but at least I'm not morally bankrupt... However, that's not the reason I enjoy it. I think I more enjoy the interactions of the people and what makes them tick. The added level that they are usually somewhat powerful or at least power hungry and definitely indulgent makes it interesting as well.
One reason I love NYC so much is that it features Bethenny Frankel, the Housewife I love the most, and Kelly Bensimmon, the Housewife I hate most. (Often times, it's just as much fun to hate someone on a reality show as it is to like someone.)
I love Bethenny because she is ambitious,accomplished and beautiful; however, she never takes herself too serious. In fact, she throws out the bon mots better than anyone else on the show. On the other hand, Kelly seems to embody that fierce individuality more than any other Housewife. Her inflated sense of self is on a whole different level. Often times when faced with a hard truth about herself, she behaves like a member of some cult: denying everything in order to maintain her beliefs when the evidence is stacked overwhelmingly against her.
I know people often question the "realness" of the reality shows. There is an artificial element to RH: these women don't always know each other before the show. Often times, the social occasions on the show feel forced, like they are doing this for the show. However, the actual interactions seem very real. I find it hard to believe they could script that or incite such things.
Enjoy the mayhem!