What I learned about real life from watching (the not so) Real Housewives…#RHOC, #RHONY, #RHOBH

My husband calls Bravo-TV’s Real Housewives “the screaming ladies show.”  He has also said, “I don’t understand how someone so intelligent can watch that stuff.”

I can’t help it. I like it. The Real Housewives is my not-at-all-guilty pleasure. If I needed an excuse, I would say, I’m an author. Observing and analyzing behavior and relationships is what I do. But I don’t need an excuse. I just like it. So there.

I got addicted to the shows with the Real Housewives of Orange County back in its second season (2007). As franchises (cities) have been added, I’ve jumped on board. I now watch Beverly Hills, New York, New Jersey, Miami, and Dallas. There are a couple others (and some international ones) I don’t watch. OC and BH are my favorites because I grew up in Southern California. I like that the women are closer to my age. Due to the time required to achieve a certain level of income and status, the women are in their 40s, some in their 50s, a few in their in their 30s. I like watching a show that isn’t filled with twentysomethings.

If you’ve escaped from a bubble somewhere, the reality show follows the lives and tribulations of groups of well-to-do women. Probably due to deliberate casting, some  women don’t get along, but because of the show are forced to spend time with one another, and fights ensue.  (They don’t always fight, as outtakes reveal, but what airs are the disagreements so it seems like they’re always arguing and screaming). But snippets of real life emerge. You see the women experience divorce, illness, family disputes, domestic violence, business and financial setbacks, legal troubles. You see them at their best–and you see them at their worst. Most of the women are not actual housewives, which I define as a homemaker who takes care of the house & kids while hubby works.  Most (though not all) are career women or successful businesswomen. Quite a few are not even married (Only one woman of the NY cast this season was married, and her marriage had ended in divorce at the end of the reason). So even the title isn’t real.

But having watched season after season, I have learned a few things about real life from the show:

  1. Broken friendships can be mended. I have seen  friends torn apart by misunderstanding and misbehavior come back together stronger than ever when the parties are willing to forgive and forget. I have seen women who couldn’t stand each become BFFs.  This is actually one of the most heart-warming things I’ve seen on the Real Housewives. There are very strong friendships on the shows, and I like that aspect a lot.
  2. Discontent and unhappiness breed bad behavior. It’s not that different from children who act out at school when there are problems at home. The women on the shows who are most grounded and even-keel are the ones with stable, satisfying marriages. The ones whose marriages are on rocks (and are trying to maintain appearances) or are unhappy are the ones who act out the most. Post divorce when things settle down, the troublemakers generally become much nicer and likable people.
  3. A mother’s love is universal and all encompassing. No matter what their flaws or how badly they act with each other, these women would kill for their children. Their children come first, always. It makes you realize how serious a breech, how deep the lack is when a mother-child bond breaks down (such as when you hear on the news of a woman who let her boyfriend abuse her children).
  4. In a stable marriage, spouses support each other. It doesn’t mean that they never make mistakes or act inconsiderately, but when a pattern of disregard exists, it is a major red flag. Common but consistent “discourtesies” mean there’s a big problem in the relationship. Every marriage on the show which has exhibited this behavior has ended in divorce. A demonstrated lack of caring and support signals that one or both parties have already checked out of the marriage.

Do you watch the Real Housewives? What do you like about the shows?

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6 Responses to What I learned about real life from watching (the not so) Real Housewives…#RHOC, #RHONY, #RHOBH

  1. Leigh Smith says:

    I’m not real big on “reality” shows, I’d rather watch fiction. lol

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Some say reality TV shows and fiction are one and the same.

      Seriously, though, there is a reality show for everything. Some are close to being documentaries while others are more like game shows, with everything in between. There are shows involving gold mining in Alaska, fishing, food/cooking (chef competitions), fashion, home decorating/renovation, real estate, dating (very popular), survival (in the wild), travel, people with disabilities, weight loss, drug rehab….

  2. Can I tell you, we had this Sunday afternoon of RH Beverly Hills I think it was and I hadn’t seen it in so long that I binge watched and my daughter (14) sat with me and we were captivated! I wish I could watch them regularly but never seem to find them on the schedule when I have time. I totally get you!!! Can you update me on what’s going on there?

    • Cara Bristol says:

      The new season of Beverly Hills hasn’t started yet. I’ll let you know when it does. NY just wrapped up. Orange Country and New Jersey are on now.

  3. Doris Gatekeeper says:

    I’ve been watching since the very first episode of Orange County. I enjoy the opulence and funny times, most. The bickering gets old. And the way the production crew seems to give preference to the most ill-behaved women is maddening to me.

    I won’t watch New Jersey ever again because I can’t relate to the East Coast mentality, or to the promotion of criminals. I stopped watching Atlanta because of NeNe. I can’t abide her behavior, at all. No one disgusts or repulses, like she does. Her haughty, angry fits aren’t fun or funny. If I knew someone like her, I would never associate. I don’t approve of humiliating others, and that’s her M.O. She likes to belittle everyone and that’s just, plain ugly.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thanks for sharing! I agree that the bickering gets old. I really like Heather because she is so classy and doesn’t get sucked into that.

      I never did see the first season of OC. But I do remember the second season was different than it is now. It was much more about the women’s daily lives than the fighting. I’ve seen outtakes. I know they don’t always fight, but that still gets aired.

      There is a different mentality to NJ; you’re right. I tried a couple of episodes of Atlanta, but it never hooked me.

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