The Real Housewives and Guilty Pleasures

by Editors

TELEVISION REVIEW/OPINION

The Real Housewives and Guilty Pleasures

By Jessica Miles

Reality TV has become a guilty pleasure for so many, and no show has captivated me more than The Real Housewives series on Bravo TV. It is the perfect recipe for a reality television show: drama, catty middle-aged women, drama, greedy children, drama, stunning abodes, and did I mention drama?

I must admit my fascination with The Real Housewives goes beyond the premiere of the first season in Orange County. I am ashamed to confess that shows like MTV’s The Hills and The Real World have also lured me in, in the past, but The Real Housewives may have them beat. Set in such locales as Orange County, New York City, New Jersey, and Atlanta, each season comes equipped with more cattiness, and greed.

Although the women featured on The Real Housewives may not play the stereotypical housewife role, this is what makes the show so appealing. These “housewives” hire help to clean their houses, to cook their meals, and even to dress them in the latest fashions.

Yet, while the fashion statements are always fun to watch I cannot help but roll my eyes and laugh at the lavish lifestyles these women live and the horrendous attitudes they often display. It’s the combination of the “if it doesn’t make me money, I don’t do it” attitude and the constant gossip and bickering taking place between these so-called friends that draws me to the show and often leads to dramatic conflicts.

The fights between the women on The Real Housewives, whether physical or verbal, have a theatrical aspect to them. Eyebrows raise, lips are pursed, nails form claws, and hair flies – all as the most bizarre events unfold. It’s hard not to watch these women tarnish whatever reputation they may have had in the blink of an eye.

But these brawls are what keep viewers returning to the series because major conflicts never seem to be resolved in the same season they occur. No, we must wait until the next season to watch the housewives apologize to one another while sitting in a trendy restaurant sipping a green apple martini.

Whether it is an accurate portrayal or not, Bravo seems to consistently depict the housewives as selfish elitists who place more value on high society gatherings than on family. The hair and makeup chair is like a second home, as they constantly prepare for the next high profile event. And while there is something about that on-the-go lifestyle that I would love to experience, I would never want to live it. Affluence seems to be the cause of all evil on the show.

Yet, the women on The Real Housewives send a different message to society: Money is the root of a blissful existence. As the housewives bask in their upper class glory, the words that come out of their mouths are often comical. They seem to think that family is for show, that Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior are values, and that modest houses equipped with the essentials aren’t suitable when ten-bedroom mansions with their own salons and personal chefs are available.

It all reminds me that the pleasures we indulge in are no longer innocent and fruitful, and neither are the shows we watch. Years ago, series such as Full House and Family Matters told stories about morals and family. Those shows continue to live on, almost invisibly, in syndication. Meanwhile, reality television consumes our media-driven appetites today. These guilty pleasures are fun to watch, although they do little to enlighten us.

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Jessica Miles, Bread and Circus contributing writer, attends Bryant University, where she is a  Communication major.

Image (above): Cover of The Real Housewives of Orange County – Season 1 DVD (Bravo TV).

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