Attempting to measure the "Real Housewives" franchise is a dubious exercise at best.
In terms of reality shows, it really is the most ostentatious spectacle of them all (except for the horror that was "The Swan") -- and it's probably why it's all the more addictive: After over a decade of mind-numbing reality shows, the producers-that-be have crafted a perfect formula with "Real Housewives." Created to be very watchable, each version of the franchise is aggressively argumentative, scripted (but made to seem not scripted, and often denied) and just plain juicy. Everyone who watches it wants to talk about it. Forget the reality in your own life, let's talk about these women!
Now Canada is entering the fray with their own version, "The Real Housewives of Vancouver" (premiering April 4, 9 p.m. ET on Slice). Odd that they chose a city more well-known for big trees and outdoorsy activity, but maybe that's the point. The women featured in "RHOV" are so far from the typical Vancouverite that it might as well take place in Los Angeles. (Interestingly, two of the five housewives are actually American, but are now Canadian citizens.) Each of them, whether the fortune is self-made or not, has access to serious cash, and they have no qualms about showing it off. So how does this show fare against its older American cousins?
No one else can be Nene Leakes, that's for sure. The five women of "RHOV" -- Christina, Ronnie, Jody, Mary and Reiko -- are difficult to discern at first, but they all slowly establish their own personality characteristics. Sadly, it's easiest to tell them apart based on how much they drink. If you must know how to remember who's who, it's like this: Christina is the partier and isn't afraid to do anything, Ronnie seems perpetually upset about something, Jody is the shorter one who says whatever's on her mind, Mary has overly large cheekbones and used to be a singer, and Reiko has a wicked collection of exotic cars, plus she's at least half-Asian (we never really learn about her lineage). Together, they're like a cacophony of caged, drunk, manicured animals.
Verdict: On Par
Oh, there is smut. Christina, the youngest (she's 30 now), admits to being a gold digger. She's been married and divorced twice already, and expresses no real remorse about her broken marriages. She's easily the most entertaining of the bunch, though, with her booze binges and antics in front of the camera. In an upcoming episode, it appears she poses topless on the beach; her gay best friend also provides several laughs (unfortunately, he can't really laugh himself. His skin is completely wrinkleless.) Three of the women are married with kids, so their partying is a little less intense -- but don't fret. We see each of the women behaving badly. Trust.
Verdict: A Bit Below Average
This show is epic with the bitchiness. It's literally non-stop arguing, judging, yelling, swearing and insulting. Throwing alcohol onto the fire just makes things more intense. It's difficult to keep track of who hates who, and why. A major issue one episode has completely dissolved by the next episode, and just when you think one woman has mended fences with another, she's trash-talking her behind her back, to the woman she originally hated! I'm telling you, all this ridiculousness makes my head spin. If you could can the amount of fake laughter on "RHOV," you'd have the market cornered on falsity.
Verdict: Above Average
These women are rich. We're not talking modest fortunes here. We're talking an exotic car collection featuring Ferraris, Bentleys and Lambourghinis, whale sperm facial treatments (I know, wtf?), designer collars for their dogs, amazing oceanfront homes and breathtaking penthouse condos, and Prada bags aplenty. No matter where the cash came from, these women know how to spend, too. Impromptu five-star weekend escape to Whistler? Sure! No problem! I'll be taking the limo up.
Verdict: On Par
For fans of the franchise, this show will probably be very addictive. For non-fans, it'll be a mystery why anyone watches at all. At a recent "RHOV" panel, one of the producers of the show stated that the "Real Housewives" franchise is replacing the soap opera, which is both scary and very true. Who wants to watch the snail's pace soaps when so much happens in one little hour on "Real Housewives"?
Verdict: On Par
Overall Verdict: Don't expect your stereotypical Canadians here. These five ladies are just as naughty, and nowhere near as nice.
"Real Housewives of Vancouver" premieres on April 4 at 9 p.m. on Slice. Its regular time will be every Wednesday on Slice at 10 p.m.