Having followed the Bravo Housewife machine for years, I as charter member of a vast, guilty pleasure-pleading demographic have stayed tuned as a group of golden ticket holders and their familial/romantic sidekicks have skyrocketed to classically superficial fame & fortune as only the media + its masses can offer. I have watched repeatedly as they have sputtered out when their pop culture imbued air got too thin; I have seen them fall. I have seen these women bounce back by sheer force of their own narcissism after they hit the ground - running. Hysterical humor and humorous hysterics walk hand in hand as Andy Cohen's so-called wives tritz down their intertwining life paths, WCW in stilettos.
Season 7 NYC to date and the Beverly Hills reunion (a 3-part Sob-n-Attackfest) having recently aired, I am left to ask, what is more extreme - the dysfunction the housewives produce to garner the attention they have clearly become addicted to or the train wreck gawkers we faithful followers have evolved into? We watch and we watch...and why?
I have to wonder how self-feeding the destructo urge is in anyone when the limelight bug bites this hard, for the old hurts and issues brought up and out for airing on national TV go ever deeper into skeleton-filled closets and farther back in time, into the most personal of histories. No makeup, blowout or jewelry can mask what ongoing, pointless confrontation is doing to some of these gals. It is sad to witness, yet I don't look away. I am reminded of nature documentaries. As predators pick off the most vulnerable of the pack, the herd may put up token resistance but mostly watches, and you say to yourself, "That's just Nature."
The Crystal Fishbowl I wrote of back when Season 6 commenced sucks its sparkling inhabitants farther into its depths as the women continue to do onto others precisely that which they would not want done to themselves. The difference now is that these women have built up their own histories with each other, so the accusations and dredging up of pasts merge with the crap dragged in from their "old" lives, flowing non-stop and unfettered. And now that real life has caught up with reality at the cost of nearly every originating romantic partnership, we have a whole troop of feminista free agents. Though they repeatedly purport to have changed/grown/accepted/etc as events and years unfold, they by their actions and ever-ready waterworks don't convince me as having seen the first light of day.
The crystal fishbowl squelches commitment, it seems, by highlighting too brightly the ordinary flaws that in the un-spotlighted everyday are taken in stride on both sides of any relationship. The Cohen Midas touch appears to be simply too much for these women and their partners to handle, many who in their "fame" start to think they are entitled to trade up. Like lottery winners whose lives are ruined in the end by their very winnings, the Wonkettes are largely unable to handle what is laid at their feet nor control those around them, who also struggle with their shirttail celebrity (and subsequent envy) and the second-tier treats laid out for them.
The picturesque locales these gals reside in and travel to remain my favorite elements of each series, much as New York City herself was the most enduring cast member of Sex & the City. But old angers and alcohol proffered at every turn degenerate nearly every Housewifely trip or gathering - we imbibers have a very real lesson to learn from this. It is a treat when one or two cast members can step back and relay with humor the ridiculousness of any given scene, though having mused cleverly, they themselves dive right back into the fray, don't they? And that Darwinian jostling/pushing/shoving for a higher perch on the societal totem pole I wrote of in my earlier Crystal Fishbowl piece? It continues at full throttle and remains the foundation of this show: as before, the ruckuses arise any time there is an attempted usurping of the pre-ordained places these so-called wives bring with them into the show. Things only calm down when original rungs have been reclaimed. It's pack hierarchy amongst humans.
With quip-queen Bethenny Frankel back on board (no surprise, as these are completely symbiotic relationships), things will only escalate that much faster, thanks to the lack of filters she brings with her, equal only to the lack Ramona Singer possesses, who though with head held high no doubt reels from hurts that exceed any of the barbs she ever hurled into others. Between Frankel and Singer, commercial spots will sell out solely on the strength of their confrontational dynamic, the series' future secured by two women who embody, for better or worse, the very definition of "Bravo Housewife." No material accouterment can however gloss over what in (our) reality is selling those ads - another lesson to take note of as we spend, spend, spend to make ourselves look better.
After seven years of virtual rides on this lavishly built roller coaster, I will now watch because I am simply curious if anyone will ever see past the tantalizing distractions and from their misadventures actually learn something. Will the Housewives some day wrap up with a choice few remaining women zipping off together, up and out, into the blue skies in some Wonkavator, or like Truman Burbank exit through a small side door the rest of us never saw before and disappear forever? And what will we, the reluctantly loyal addicts, all do when the last housewife has mopped up her last mess? What's next?
The lure of the Wait-n-See is as fascinating as it is undeniable.
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