Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Marie Antoinette is Alive and Living on the Upper East Side


Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a “Housewives” junkie. It’s my dirty little secret.

Having made it through “The Real Housewives of Orange County” (trailer trash on silicone) and “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” (entertaining but fake), I’m hooked, absolutely hooked, on “The Real Housewives of New York City.”

Is it me, or do the Housewives of NYC remind you of being back in high school? First, there’s Alex and her creepy, secretly-gay boyfriend (husband) trying desperately to break into the popular clique. I wanted to like Alex, I really did. She’s from the Midwest and she’s a graphic designer. But then there was the naked-on-the-beach St. Bart’s episode and all the talk about “au pair girls” and knowing the “right people,” not to mention the conversations with her children involving pretentious smatterings of French. And don’t get me started on poor Francois and Johan, those long-haired, French-speaking little darlings destined for a life of school yard bullying. How do you say please don’t kick my ass in French? Really, what are their parents thinking?

And then there’s Ramona, who likes to describe herself as “ladylike” and “classy”, while wearing a tiny bikini and engaging in martini-fueled horseplay around the pool in front of her humiliated thirteen-year-old daughter. Go mom. Ramona’s one of those people who says whatever she wants without any regard for anyone else’s feelings, and then seems genuinely surprised when it all backfires. She’s the girl in high school who tried to make you feel guilty for getting on the pill, who boasted she’d be a virgin when she married, who swore she wasn’t having sex with her boyfriend and later got pregnant her junior year.

Jill reminds me of the girl who grew up in a trailer on the wrong side of town but despite her humble origins, still manages to snag one of the rich boys. She wears her insecurities on her sleeve, only in Jill’s case it’s a Herve Leger sleeve. It gets a little old hearing her brag about spending $8,000 on a Birkin bag or complaining about losing her housekeeper as if it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to her; but then she cries when her daughter leaves for Paris or she mentions that her mother used to hound her about her weight when she was a girl, and I can’t help but feel sorry for her. (Is it just me or is Jill’s mother seriously scary?)

Kelly’s the cheerleader who’s always gotten by on her charm and good looks. But don’t cross her. Behind that pretty facade lies a borderline psychopathic personality. (Think Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction). And really, the fake tan has got to go. (Not that I would ever tell her this, of course, not unless she was safely trussed up, Hannibal Lector style.)

And Bethenny? Well she’s my peeps. If she and I had gone to high school together, we’d have been good, good friends (as we say in the South). Bethenny wields sarcasm like a scalpel (“Cher called. She wants her outfit back.”) Despite her new fake boobs, there’s something real about her. I can imagine us smoking cigarettes in the girls’ bathroom, sharing a bottle of tequila out at the lake, or sneaking out of my window on a Friday night. (Not that I ever did those things, Mom. Really.)

And then there’s the Countess. LuAnn. Who I used to admire for her openness, before I realized that the openness was really just another side of self-conceit. If I had to place LuAnn in high school, I’d describe her as the self-absorbed Homecoming Queen. The night she corrected Bethenny for having introduced her to the limo driver as “LuAnn” instead of “Countess de Lesseps” I knew I was going to have a problem with LuAnn. The whole thing was so very Let-Them-Eat-Cake. This is America, and we don’t give a damn about things like titles, LuAnn, so get over yourself. Seriously.

Which brings me back to the whole addictive quality of the show; the fact that I feel I know each of these women intimately and can like or dislike them accordingly. I’m a guilty voyeur. As Bethenny says, while watching from the sidelines of a tension-filled tennis match, “It’s like watching someone skin an animal alive.”

My husband always groans and leaves the room when he sees the show is on. But later, as I’m climbing into bed, he wants to know what happened on tonight’s episode. The hypocrite.

He’s as bad as Ramona.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I love NYC's Housewives too! Into everyone's life a little trash must be watched! They are hilarious, especially Ramona and LuAnn who take themselves so seriously. And when is the gay husband coming out? Why does he want to be in every scene with the ladies? I don't know another friend's husband who really hangs with the wives. They always want to hide in their man caves when too much estrogen enters the room.

Can't wait to read the new book!