Who are these women on my screen and what did they do with my housewives?
I said that out loud to my television last night. Rough night. And I get it, Bravo, you think you've got a bit of a swinging door situation with this Housewives franchise. You think, and allow me a moment to speak on your behalf (no lawyers, please), that if the formula is in place, you can switch out the women, and we'll barely notice. I blame it on The Real Housewives of Orange County (don't we all?). No franchise in the series (I, like Bravo, do not acknowledge DC or Miami) has been a bigger yawn than OC. Sure, Vicki is bat-shit, but everyone is too afraid of her to ever flip a table at her or yank on her weave. OC has unfortunately been the guinea pig in a franchise that's birthed massive success from everything that's come after it (we are not mentioning DC or Miami again, am I making myself clear?).
The Real Housewives of New York and Atlanta premiered in the years following OC's wild success. A success that, though self-sustaining, became unmatched by the overtake of later Housewives franchises. The initial seasons of these Housewives were everything I "didn't have time for" in a reality series. I switched on RHONY (get hip to the monikers, they're fun) at one point and saw one catty bitch approaching another catty bitch (at a fashion show, no less) and could barely contain my good riddances as I clicked over to The History Channel (probably more like The Food Network).
These days, I watch them all, even tired, old OC. Note: I fast forward through anything involving Gretchen unless Vicki is decked out in leggings and shouting obscenities. In these instances, I pause, snap a photo, and add it to my archive of Housewives stills that I keep on file. This is not a joke, I mean, the existence of it is a joke in the funny sense, but not a joke in the actually existing sense. If I was the kind of guy that made a tumblr, I can't say I'd be rich, 'cause who makes money off of that shit, but I'd have some notoriety on fan sites, I'm telling you.
The franchise that everyone can't seem to get enough of is The Real Housewives of New Jersey. If we're being honest, the hey-day is over. And by hey-day, I mean hey Danielle, hey, because on my bat-shit crazy Housewives list she is tied for number one with like eight others (no easy feat). If you don't remember her bodyguard Danny, I'm sorry for you, and if you are in need of a bodyguard, I'm sure, if not incarcerated (again), he's looking for work. Still, this series does hold up as reliably entertaining, and I have actually cried tears of sadness while watching it. It could happen to you.
Jersey hit its stride right off the bat because it delivered on something OC hadn't thought up: Intertwining the lives of the ladies. The Corleone's of Paterson, The Manzos, stood at the epicenter and we were given three to hone in on (two and a half if we're being fact checky and honestly, like, are we?). Then we had crazy-balls Teresa, the loyal friend of the family, and arch-nemesis bat-shit crazy Danielle Staub (who, VH1, if you're listening, time to give this girl a show). Lines were drawn in the New Jersey sand and the franchise took shape with themes like "family" and "loyalty." I can't even type those words without literally montaging the women shouting them at each other. I will credit Jersey, too, with really establishing the reunion show format, thus making Andy Cohen the face of Bravo.
I could go on and on about The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and pardon me while I do for a moment in just a second, but it's currently shooting, so I'd rather dish about it come Fall. Is it Fall yet? No, really, is it? I haven't been outside since they started releasing this shit on DVD. Beverly Hills, and you'd think it would just be a carbon boob job of OC, is solid gold because of a rockin' cast. Nobody was playing to the camera, minus the pomeranian (I see you mouthing "Giggy" like I don't already know) and everybody's egos, though inflated, seemed to balance one another out. Then there's Kim Richards who I implore you to google image and have that be the rest of what you do for the day.
I'm not going to get into Atlanta because, though it's entertaining, it's just so not me. Sooooooooo not me. But it's fun and I wish these women the best.
Housewives as a franchise, forever changed in 2010 when a little fight ("you didn't call my Bobby while he was in the hospital") turned into a big fight ("it's like a divorce"), and thus a big obsession was born. I mean, HBO's Game Changer should have been about Bethenny Frankel, am I right? Julianne Moore telling Laura Dern's Jill Zarin (not calling it Game Changer for nothing) to get a hobby. Cut to Julianne Moore winning a Golden Globe. Cut to Bethenny Frankel on a treadmill. I say: Why not?
I hear all of your arguments about why there are better things to do than watch The Real Housewives, but shouldn't you have better things to do than engage this argument? Once upon a third season there was a franchise called RHONY (you got hip, didn't you?) and it was comprised of seven semi-housewives navigating life in New York City. Say what you will, but these were six ("Didn't you say there were seven?" "Yes. Yes, I did.") sexy, vivacious broads who drank more than that baby sucking his mother's breast milk on the cover of Time Magazine. Just keep the children out of it. Mentioning the kiddies is a big Housewives no-no, unless it's a reunion, but be prepared to be sent some sh-hade for that.
So, please understand why I'm a little pissed about this cast shake-up. I'm sure Jill Zarin wanted Bravo's next-born (probably Tabitha Takes on a Millionaire Listing/Matchmaker) and Kelly Bensimon was hitting on what she thought was the camera guy (Bobby Zarin), but be reasonable. I was introduced to three women last night, one whom, fine, I'd go to lunch with because she's a Kennedy (not a Housewife), one who has a prosthetic leg and couldn't wait until episode two (at least) to get a pedicure (the reveal), and one who wore a spiderweb over her dress at some cocktail party which was such a snore I swear they used footage from last season.
These women are formulaic (using the confessional to alter how scenarios play out, tsk to the tsk) and boring. I'm not buying your book or your stupid shapewear line or painting your prosthetic toenails. I want my crazy Alex McCord in her Brooklyn brownstone and her husband at a pride parade yelling at Sonja (who Bravo is feeding barbiturates this season, I can already tell). Fuck, I'll even take that Housewife with the twins, at least she was always pissed about something.
I'm angry at Bravo for treating us viewers like the same haggard people that watched The Real Housewives of Miami (fuck me for mentioning it again). It's a sad day to be a Housewives fan. And that's saying something.