Elizabeth Hayt over at The Daily Beast describes Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise as a “post-feminist nightmare that preys on women’s shallowest, least-attractive qualities” in her article, “Wives Gone Wild.” But she, like the rest of America, can’t stop watching. Here’s why you should embrace your love of these women, even though they exhibit the worst of stereotypical feminine traits.The main reason we watch is because we can relate to these women, even though they live lavish lifestyles very different from our own. You might not want to admit, but we all have a little cattiness in us. I, for one, felt warm and fuzzy when Sheree’s “She by Sheree” fashions were too cheap and crappy to show at her fashion viewing. I thought karma definitely bit that bitch. But what I enjoyed even more was the conversation between NeNe and her best gay pal Dwight, during which he asked, “Who is the person that had a fashion viewing without any fashions? How dreadful!”
Rubbernecking is a traffic term for a reason — people are curious about the lives (and deaths) of others. We’ll watch an accident, a fight, a house fire, or reality TV simply for the drama of it all. Watching people on television make fools of themselves or start arguments about BS helps me maintain a drama-free life. I would never talk crap about a friend to her sworn enemy, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I was fascinated by how easily Kim turned on NeNe. Plus, as Dr. Jean Cirillo told The Daily Beast, we either identify with the victim or the aggressor on these shows, and then “vicariously enjoy her retaliation against the other woman.” I’m still waiting for Gretchen to kick that catty wench Tamra’s ass after she attacked Gretchen on the reunion episode of season four of “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” As you can see, I identify with the victim, but I in no way think Gretchen plays the victim card.
I bet a lot of future gold diggers watch “Real Housewives” to get pointers on attaining a lavish lifestyle. Marrying an athlete is definitely the way to go, three out of five of the Atlanta housewives married an athlete and so did Jeana over in Orange County. Just don’t go for a football player because, as DeShawn pointed out, their money isn’t a guarantee.
In addition, watching these shows allows us to “glory in self-superiority,” according to Andrea Lavinthal and Jessica Rozler, authors of Friend or Frenemy: A Guide to Friends You Need and the Ones You Don’t. If you were rich, you wouldn’t buy your daughter who doesn’t have a driver’s license a luxury car the way Lynne and her husband did. You wouldn’t consider buying a yacht just because it had a dish washer like Vicki. And you wouldn’t admonish your friend for introducing you to a driver by your first name like LuAnn did.
All in all, the “Real Housewives” shows are an escape you shouldn’t feel guilty about. In fact, I feel guilty about missing this week’s episode of “The Real Housewives of New York City,” but I’ll catch the inevitable marathon this weekend.