The 5 Reasons I Love The Real Housewives Franchise

Look, not that I need to justify myself to you, but I read all the time. I read lots of books, many of them long, most with multi-syllabic words. And like the marathon runner who keeps a rigorous diet is allowed a slice of cake every now and again, I can take my brain out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a while, growing spores as I soak in the obnoxious giggles of past-their-prime mean girls. I love it. And why not? It’s schadenfreude at it’s most potent. And who doesn’t love that?

1. I feel better about my body. I will be honest, I have a fairly normal body type. I’m certainly not fat, but I’m not overly thin, and I have some decent curves. I feel like a woman. I feel comfortable and confident in my body. And never more so than when I watch the vapid collection of bike racks with fake breasts that trounces around on that show. I don’t know what that gene in middle-aged rich women is that suddenly tells them, “Attractive=Thin. At all costs. The thinner the more attractive, no exceptions.” And while we should all strive to be healthy and stay in shape, we should all stop somewhere before “Auschwitz inmate with melons duct taped to their chest.” I recently saw some viciously HD photos of Camille from BH on a red carpet, and her crepe paper skin stretched over her ribcage reminded me of a tanner working an old hide over a radiator. Unfortunate.

2. I love being poor. The hilarious percentage of the Housewives that have lost, exaggerated, or never had their money in the first place is amazing. They live in a world that demands they be absurdly wealthy, and as they long ago sacrificed their dignity and personal morals to sleep with a balding, emotionally distant investment banker–there’s no turning back now. They are obligated to be in a constant competition with each other over who has the biggest car, the tightest facelift, the gayest manservant. And it’s refreshing in a recession to know just how fake so much of this opulent disposable income can be. I may be eating Ramen noodles out of a pan, but at least I didn’t buy it on credit.

3. I’m glad I’m single. The marriages on this show may be the biggest sham of all. The few couples that seem to be able to stand each other in the same room for more than five minutes are inevitably only keeping their sanity by routinely cheating on each other. Never before in our cultural history has the blatant “You are relatively rich and I am relatively attractive” handshake been so clearly trotted out for the world to see. It’s brutal at times to watch the strained, fake, loveless exchanging of credit cards and sex that are these “unions,” but it solidly reminds me that money most certainly does not buy happiness, especially in terms of relationships. Obviously one needs enough money to survive comfortably, but at a certain point, their money seems to just serve to build a bigger house with more rooms to put between them.

4. I feel blisteringly intelligent. It is so rare that any of the women on this show are genuinely funny or intelligent, and even the ones that have become catchphrase-spewing parodies of themselves (Nene, Jill, I’m looking at you) were not that funny to begin with. The funny ones are funny in the way Joy Behar is funny, she’s not really but we need to put women on TV occasionally and this is best we can do. The true humor of this show always comes completely unintentionally, and often from their misguided attempts to seem smart. Whether incorrectly spewing out a word they clearly read on Dictionary.com or telling each other that they’re not interested in conflict in between screaming and wig-pulling matches, they seem so blissfully unaware of how visible their extra chromosome is. I guess a bit of exposure and enough money will convince anyone that they have something meaningful to say, but I often wonder if these women know how absurd they look. Well, judging by the vapid celebrities that occasionally go on political shows and reveal to the world how utterly uninformed and incapable of forming an opinion they are, this may be symptomatic of anyone in front of a camera. I bet they make their own version of MENSA complete with glitter-covered party hats and Hello Kitty membership cards.

5. I know how not to raise my children. There is this strange phenomenon amongst rich people, the simultaneous need to have children coupled with the utter disinterest in actually raising them. And it seems the richer one becomes, the more they feel entitled to pawn off the precious time spent with their offspring to some Ecuadorian woman twice their age. The women on this show, however, have taken the concept of having a nanny to unreal heights, employing several for every one child and having them work in shifts (I’m assuming in an effort to never actually come in physical contact with their children–the dream of any parent). When they are seen with their children, it’s either a disconnected photo op or a temporary moment of discomfort before handing them off to a caretaker so they can rush off to that well-deserved manicure. Now, the ones with older children obviously don’t live in this situation, but judging by how insufferable and entitled they all seem to be, one can only imagine they received the same treatment.

Oh, well. If my life doesn’t seem to be going the way I wanted, I’ll just marry rich and pawn my self-respect for a slot on a reality show. I’ve always wanted to meet Andy Cohen. TC mark

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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  • Yael

    “Auschwitz inmate with melons duct taped to their chest.” Wow, bad move. Auschwitz? You could have used so many other examples to get your point across.

    • chelseafagan

      You know, out of the 200-ish comments I've gotten on this website, this is the only one I've ever responded to, (including the ones that called me a cunt and said I was ugly) because I feel compelled to clarify.
      I don't know if it would be more palatable for you if I had said starving African child, prisoner of war, or any other ethnicity of people denied the privilege of eating–but that is neither here nor there.
      The point I am making here is that these women make a mockery of their wealth, of their good fortune, of their living in the Land of Plenty by intentionally starving themselves while there are so many people both currently and throughout history who would give/have given anything for a slice of bread.
      The metaphor is ugly, but so is what they do. So is that particular aspect of our culture. If the metaphor was shocking or in poor taste for you, good. That's how I feel when I look at what they do, and is exactly the sentiment I want to convey.

      • SousChefGerard

        You can do better. Maybe Dachau? Banjica? The possibilities are unfortunately endless.

      • PERFECTCIRCLES

        I now have the goal of being the second comment you reply to!

      • PERFECTCIRCLES

        But whoever called you names was mean.

      • Emily Alexander

        Your excuse for not being funny reminds me of when Alan Alda's character in Crimes and Misdemeanors says, “Comedy is tragedy, plus time” before he gets confused and obnoxiously rambles something just as meaningless.

        It's not enlightening or brave to compare the systemic suffering of any group of people (Jewish, African, P.O.W. or otherwise) to talentless reality television figures. I suggest you trade your cursory style for a little bit of tact. Your writing will improve and you will stop alienating your readers.

  • http://twitter.com/bdrapercomplex Carina Prynne

    Well this was just dead-on.

  • Maxxros

    Auschwitz inmate?????? Extremely offensive. Not funny in the least.

  • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

    I would have gone with 13 year old Palestinian inmate in an Israeli prison.

  • Nono

    I enjoyed this article!

    http://beverlyhillsdiary.blogs

  • bryn

    only gripe ! bethenny does not apply to any of this! but i guess that is why she is not a housewife anymore

  • Apa

    I’ve read through four of your entries, and I have to cry uncle. Out of everything, your reply to Yael re: the criticism of your in-poor-taste Auschwitz comment pretty much sealed the deal.

    I wouldn’t criticize the “Housewives” in these shows too much, if I were you. I hope in ten years or so you have the maturity you are so sorely lacking in your articles.

  • Mashka

    I really enjoy your writing but I too was offended by the Auschwitz inmate comment. I think being “offensive” in some ways in writing is necessary, or thought-provoking or what have you and of course not everyone is going to respond the same way to everything. That being said, I believe there are truly some things that should not be addressed in any metaphorical or mocking way, no matter what point you’re trying to get across.

    I read your explanation, I still don’t feel it was appropriate. There are so many other ways (funny or not… but not disgustingly ignorant and offensive) to describe the body types of the women on this show. Comparing Auschwitz to your feelings of contempt toward the Real Housewives is beyond fathomable. 

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