Every so often – not every night, not even every week, I watch a version of the Real Housewives. I’m not addicted or anything. It’s not like I HAVE to watch it.
Most of the time I just flick on for a moment – in between watching a documentary on the migratory patterns of whales and a symphony broadcast from Albert Hall. It usually happens when my husband and kids aren’t in the room. I’m really just flicking. It’s just a snippet that I see. I don’t even know all their names and I can stop any time I want. Really.
I’m not like some of my friends who watch it all the time. Most of them hide it from their partners and other friends. They talk to me about it in whispers behind their hand so that no one can even lip-read the words, “Real Housewives.”
I don’t know why they can’t just come out of the closet and exclaim proudly “I watch the Real Housewives and I don’t care who knows it!” Maybe it’s because a Real Housewives closet is so pretty – it’s not like it’s uncomfortable in there. I mean, it’s filled with sparkly dresses and many, many pairs of shoes with red bottoms after all.
But why is the Real Housewives such a dirty little secret? Why does it feel so bad and yet, so good? Why is it even popular at all?
If you look at it objectively, it’s just a group of women (each version is fairly homogeneous) plied with alcohol and then encouraged to fight with each other. They’re like modern day gladiators and their viewers like Roman spectators – desperate for a bit of blood and a lot of drama. Is this why we (sorry, they) feel so guilty about it? Deep down they know they’re caught in some unevolved human need to watch others suffer?
Or is it something more academic? Are we all just fulfilling a sociological need to study others’ lives in order to understand mankind and ourselves? Will my viewing of Kyle and Kim’s many fights (I had to look those names up) help me to understand familial relationships and sibling rivalry? Yes, that could work as an explanation. My husband might buy that.
Or is it that we use the women on the show as a benchmark for our own behaviour? WE don’t speak to our friends the way Gina speaks to Jackie. In fact, they make us look more like the Dalai Lama than a cast member of the Melbourne Housewives. Do we watch for validation? We must be good people because no producer worth their salt would cast us for THAT show.
Or are we just tired and need something that sparkles to take our mind off our mundane lives? Help me out here – there must be a good reason, mustn’t there?
Does anybody else have any dirty secret television they’re addicted to? Why do we watch them if we think they’re bad for us?
One thought on “Coming out of the Real Housewives Closet”
Kate, you make a good point about the Roman Gladiators. I think that the whole reality TV thing, which is decades old now, is really our more civilized version of watching a lion tear apart a man who only has a sword to defend himself. We love to watch a good fight. we take sides. We debate the future prospects of the players. Just because these players are women dripping in diamond and have really nice shoes and their foreheads don’t move when they speak doesn’t mean that they are any different from professional boxers who fight for a living. Really, like boxers, they have a lot of prepping to do before each “round” or show. They practice their sparing skills, get rub downs and consult with producers for the best effects. So, to answer your point, we watch because it thrills us and galls us, and just makes us feel better about our own humdrum lives. At least that is what I think today. Ask me tomorrow and I may have another theory all together.
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