Three times a year, Bravo films a chosen set of walking empty handbags trimmed with Juvaderm in their natural habitats (sallow McMansions, echo-y McCondos, styrofoam-filled dreams, etc.), edits the footage for maximum ridiculousness (not that hard), and airs the results on TV as The Real Housewives series. Everyone who watches is alternately appalled and amused by the Housewives' flagrant displays of shallowness and stupidity, while the Housewives seem to have no idea that we're almost always laughing at them, and everyone is completely satisfied with the arrangement. Everyone, that is, except the NY Times:
Money is the only currency: the status markers understood by a huge faction of the privileged class figure not at all in the “Real Housewives” universe. Here there is no premium placed on education or refined tastes, and a businesswoman is someone who makes cuff bracelets at her kitchen table. The whole enterprise, like so much else on Bravo, the “affluencer” network, feels like a moldy leftover from the pre-Obama age; the currently fashionable values — humility, intelligence, restraint, style — are eclipsed by money-grubbing witlessness and big-carbon-footprint living.
“The Real Housewives of New York City” continues to feel especially yucky in this regard — and fraudulently offensive to a certain kind of New Yorker who would never actually envy someone like Alex.
First off, stop trying to make "pre-Obama age" happen, news media. Not everything has to be viewed through the Obama administration prism.
Secondly, criticizing the women on Real Housewives for their "money-grubbing witlessness" is like criticizing the tools on Tool Academy for being complete tools. Of course they don't value humility, intelligence, restraint, or style—they're greedy, tacky, comically high-faluting morons, that's why they're on The Real Housewives. The show isn't setting them up as aspirational figures, either. It props them up purely to knock them down, or to document the many, many ways in which they fall down. Half the time, the background music on the show might as well be a laugh track.
Lastly, saying that there's a certain kind of New Yorker who would never envy Alex, implies that there are New Yorkers who do envy Alex, which simply isn't true. Sure, someone might envy her apparent wealth, but no one anywhere would want to be Alex, or any of the other Housewives. Why not? Here are six reasons from last night's season premiere of The Real Housewives Of NYC alone:
1. If you were a Real Housewife, you'd order things like a "cosmo in a cosmo" as if that's a drink and not the double-vodka-infused void where your humanity should be.
2. When Real Housewives "write" "books," they're picture books. About the history of the bikini.
3. If you were a Real Housewife, you'd be so self-involved you wouldn't even notice that your jogging path is 5th Avenue in rush hour traffic and you're about to get hit by a taxi.
4. If you were a Real Housewife, your social circle would include a guy in a pizza shirt who claims to be an artist. His medium? Tomatoes. Only Tomatoes.
5. Real Housewives have two all-consuming obsessions: 1. The Skinny Girl Margarita, the drink that they "invented," and 2. How totally fat they look as a cartoon.
6. If you were a Real Housewife, you would be married to the mummified remains of Paul Hogan filled with Ipecac syrup who constantly talks about networking, shopping, and teaching your children French.