Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Amazing Women...????

by Judi Fennell

So I've been reading through everyone's wonderful posts about wonderful, exciting, ground-breaking, inspirational women, and I have to say, our gender has put out some wonderful examples for the younger set to emulate.

So then, explain these women to me:

Yes, I admit, I'm hooked on the show. And before you start booing or throwing tomatoes, let me tell you why. With the rare rare exception of a (sadly) small number of cast members, I'll tell you my reasons, but first, the qualifiers:

I do not like these women.
I do not admire these women.
I do not want to be like these women.
I do not think these women are role models.
I do not think most of them have the common sense, humanity, or professionalism that God/Karma/Fate/the Universe gave a gnat.

So why do I watch this show?

Well, if you know me, you know that I love certain reality TVshows. Lost, The Amazing Race, sometimes even The Apprentice. I love the competition and the aspect of triumphing over adversity (the weather alone in Survivor would do me in, never mind the bugs). But it's the social aspect of these games that fascinate me. I loved how Boston Rob played a near-perfect, if not perfect, game this last season. Granted, it was his 4th time, so I'd hope he'd understand the strategy better, but strategy can only take you so far. You have to know how to interact with people. I've watched the teams on The Amazing Race go from super-nasty-competitive to honest competitors who pretty much across the board have a sense of fair play - people only Yielding another team to keep from being eliminated instead of trash-talking them and doing it just for the hell of it. The Apprentice has offered very interesting views of celebrities as real people on Celebrity Apprentice, but I have to say that I like the "real" version where people are vying for a job with The Donald.

But these women of Bravo just amaze me--and I don't mean in a good way. They aren't running a race, and there is no prize at the end of the season. Oh, sure, they can now peddle their Pinot Grigio, cookbooks, handbag/clothing/jewelry lines, or their songs (and I say that word loosely, because, honestly? most of them need friends to tell them the truth about their singing), but they end up with these deals because of the "good TV" they provide.

And I don't mean "good" as in it's actually "good." And this is where my reasons for watching come in: it AMAZES me, I mean, AMAZES me, how these so-called friends/sisters/in-laws/neighbors are willing to throw each other under the bus for ratings. For the chance at their 15 minutes of fame.

They're willing to open their children's lives up for public scrutiny. Their parenting skills and their own bad behavior are right there for the cameras. Are the children thinking this is okay? The sad sad thing is that, yeah, they probably are. Especially the younger ones who have no idea that the rest of America doesn't go around with cameras in their living room (or bathrooms as in one memorable O.C. episode that just skeeved me out for her part, his, and oh God, her poor kids!).

There are a few of the ladies that I applaud. Laurie from the original Orange County. Her son got in some serious trouble and she backed out of the show. Brava for her. Bethenney Frankel worked the reality TVcircuit with her own sarcastic blend of charm and has come out smelling like a tequila rose. Good for her (though that $50K speaking fee for a gig in NYC that I tried to book her for still kind of burns me up. $50K? Really? For an hour right outside your door? You're not quite all that, Bethenney. Of course, I don't know that there's anyone I'd be willing to pay $50K to listen to...). Carolyn Manzo - she says it like it is and if you don't like it, tough. But her heart seems to be in the right place. Lisa Vanderpump seems to be a decent sort with her willingness to take in strays and the way she's (so far) treated members of her family. Other than that, I am honestly amazed that I can't categorize the others as nice people I'd want to know.

Granted, I don't know these women. They could all be the nicest human beings on the planet, or they could be absolute witches. But it's the fact that they're willing to go on TV and air their dirty laundry (or lack thereof...Tamra, I'm talking to you!) for the world to see, and even sadder, for their KIDS to see... that just AMAZES me. (Have I said that enough?)

So, yes, I consider these women amazing, but not in the traditional sense of the word. They continually amaze me with naked make-out sessions, screaming table-tossing bad behavior, the trash mouths (Tamra and Gretchen, seriously - can you say ANYTHING without a foul word attached to it?), the back-stabbing, the entitlement (Jill, puhleaze!), the social climbing wannabees (Alex, seriously, it's over, hon), the snide comments, the incredibly indulgent lifestyles in the face of today's economy (can someone please tell me how I could declare bankruptcy and yet still live in a million dollar home and get my nails done??? Please????) and all the playing-it-up for the camera.

I have a circle of girlfriends in my neighborhood who have been getting together for the past 10 years. Ironically, this group started because of Survivor. I had had a party for the end of season 2 (Australian Outback) and a bunch of us decided we'd get together for the next season and watch it on Thursday nights. Well, here it is 10 years later, Survivor is (surprisingly) still on TV (though they did move it to Wednesday nights which is just so unhelpful. Thank God for DVR), and we're still together. This past Thursday night (no Survivor since the season is over) we were in one of the women's hot tubs. In a rainstorm. We started at 8 and left at 12:20 mostly because there are those of us who have to go to work at ridiculously early hours (raises hand). Many people who know about our group have suggested we try to get on Real Housewives. We've even laughed about it. I mean, we all have our share of drama. Life is not perfect off-TV. But the thing is, none of us WANTS to toss each other under the bus. None of us wants to expose our kids and our marriages to that kind of scrutiny (for kicks one day when I'm done my latest book I might do a survey of all the Real Housewives cast members' marriages - many of them have broken up on TV. Coincidence? I am really doubting it).

But the bottom line is this: if I'm going to be famous (and, let's face it, being famous helps sell books which is why SNOOKI GOT A BOOK DEAL! - and don't get me started on that show, which, no, I don't watch. My kids, however, have turned it on a few times, so yes, I do know who the characters are) for something, I want it to be for my accomplishments. Not for the amount of four-letter words I can shriek out with big hair, bigger jewelry, and complete disregard for the one thing the "Countess" lays claim to: class.

Yes, I will keep watching. I can't not watch. It's like a traffic accident that you're horrified by but have to see. I am AMAZED that there are people willing to put this stuff out there and will one day have to be horrified by the idiocy they perpetuated.

In the meantime, my girlfriends and I will enjoy our own Pinot Grigio (actually, Yuengling, Michelob Ultra, Smirnoff ice, and the occasional chocolate martini) in our friend's hot tub and share the good, the bad, the heartbreaking, and the joyous moments of our lives. Girlfriends are forever. Reality TV is not.

Anyone else who watches them, as appalled as I am? Anyone think I'm off my rocker and love the housewives?


  1. I'm not a follower but you piqued my interest. Think we could throw Bonnie (of Bonnie and Clyde) in there with them and see what would happen?

  2. Thanks for the morning chuckle, Judi. I loved your post! I've seen bits and pieces of shows as my guys are flipping through the channels at 100 mph, and agree that some are really like a train wreck!

    Once in a blue moon, Jessi is home at the same time, and we girl-bond over "What Not to Wear" with Stacy & Clinton. We seriously love that show because they have real women, with real job/life situations that have made either their spouse, sister, and/or friends, etc. decide that they need a wardrobe makeover.

    BUT, the thing we both really love is that they always show the woman how to showcase her figure, and downplay trouble-spots, usually accompanied by a new hair style and makeover. Empowering a woman to shine!

    My other guilty pleasure is watching NASCAR racing, my driver's in 3rd place right now!

  3. I don't watch that show, or many TV shows. At first I thought it was a picture of quadruplets!

  4. Yea, I love the Real Housewives shows and have watched them since the beginning. I have noticed that they are getting more and more inflammatory, but they are so ridiculous. You put this exactly the way I think we all feel about these ladies. Honestly, that's why I think they're on TV because you can see Andy Cohen appeasing them, but you know he's kind of rolling his eyes and laughing at how ridiculous they are!

    Having said that, I'll keep watching. How sad am I?!? Maybe they make me feel like I'm even more gloriously normal than ever?

  5. Carolyn - Bonnie would blow them away. I can't see her putting up with the BS the rest of them do. That would kinda end the show a little sooner than one season, I'm thinking...

    Colleen - I like Stacy and Clinton, too, but just don't have the time to watch TV like I'd like anymore. Thank God for iTunes and hulu and episodes online. Go CH's Driver!

    Shana - "quadruplets" - that's b/c they live in O.C. where plastic of any kind is better than class, er, cash...

    Becky - I love when Andy comes out and asks them the really tough questions. And I'm as sad as you because I will keep watching. It's not that they make me feel better about myself, but it's like, you think they've reached the pinnacle of bad taste... and then they climb higher. I honestly can't look away. What that says about me... ah, well. You and I can hang out together.

  6. Well, I've never heard of the show so I can't comment on it, but what amazes me is that I was so engrossed in you writing about it that I was going, "oohhh, ah, wow!" Must be soemthing to this show and you did a GREAT job explaining it.

  7. I haven't seen the show. I don't watch a lot of TV, and when I do, it's usually something hubby has prerecorded, cops shows like Justified and The Glades, and he loves his reality shows like Deadliest Catch.

    It is amazing what some people will do on these reality shows. I always wonder if the people are really like that or if the producers are prodding them to make it controversial.

  8. Poor Judi. You've come down with what I call " trainwreck syndrome." It's so bad you cannot stop yourself from watching. Another show that bugs the flip out of me is The Jersey Shore. Now they're making a nuisance of themselves in Italy. Don't Americans get a bad enough rep in Europe already?

    That being said, I thoroughly enjoy Jimmy Fallon's skits that he does--The Resl Housewives of Late Night and The Jersrey Floor. FUNNY AS HECK.

    At first I thought it was some sort of family picture. Then again, it's Beverley Hills. They probably go to the same plastic surgeon.

  9. I don't watch these shows. I know enough to guess I'd probably hate them. But it's good to have that confirmed.

    These women make big money from "reality" TV. I have grave doubts about how real reality TV is. But Kim Kardasian has millions more than her actual working husband. She was a nobody before and made all that money being a "reality star.".

  10. The only reality show I like to watch is The Biggest Loser. I watched a couple of seasons of Survivor, but got bored with it one season and never went back to it. All I can say about this kind of thing is... people are strange.

  11. I'm among the ranks of those who no longer watch TV much. Sounds interesting, though!

  12. I'm right there with you! Although..I have to say that I had to step back as it was driving me too crazy to watch. I was actually taking notes on how NOT to live my life, think, dress, act, etc. Now, my favorite train wreck on television is the current Bachelorette. I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around any of this stuff being labeled "reality". Thanks for the great read!

  13. I am a hopeless reality show addict. Why? Despite how much of the show is not truly 'reality', I enjoy the character study. Enough genuine personality comes through for me to be constantly amazed.