At this point, it’s safe to say that Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise has made an indelible mark on pop culture. Since its conception in 2006, there’s been six installments, record deals, spin-offs, sex tapes, book deals and exhaustive tabloid coverage for these delusional divas, allowing them to transition from legends in their own mind to sort of/kind of legends in real life. The show’s appeal is easy to understand. It’s about insane privileged women who lead insane privileged lives.
Although much of the show is based on their grandiose lifestyles, the women also deal with issues that are universal. Throughout the seasons, we’ve seen the housewives have financial difficulties, get cheated on by their husbands, watch a child succumb to drug addiction, and deal with infertility. It’s in those moments that we realize that these are, in fact, the real housewives and not those space aliens living on Wisteria Lane over at ABC.
Along with being realistic, the show is also a fascinating study on the issue of class and how it correlates with geography, race and gender. Below I’ve taken the liberty of creating a kind of cheat sheet for the different seasons. In these, you will notice how things like simple geography set these women apart.
1. The Real Housewives of Orange County
What It’s About: Orange County meltdowns. This is the most depressing installment of The Real Housewives, in my opinion. The husbands tend to be more verbally abusive and controlling while the women are generally more submissive and miserable. (See: Jeana Keough, Tamra Barney and Alexis Bellino.)
Politics: Total Ralph Lauren-wearing conservatives.
Husbands: Like I said, creepy assholes.
Kids: Nightmare on Coto De Caza Street. Lynne Curtin’s teenagers are girls gone wild, Lauri Peterson’s son got addicted to heroin, Tamra’s son, Ryan, went to jail and Jeana’s son, Shane, treats her like crap.
$$$$: What money? JK, but not really. It’s basically foreclosure central, which makes Orange County very Keeping Up With The Joneses Until You Go Broke And Are Living In An Apartment In Irvine.
Feminism: It’s in short supply. Even though Vicki Gunvelson is a self-righteous narcissist, she’s the only person who has a career and isn’t dependent upon her husband. So in the words of Vicki herself, “Woo, woo.”