By Sophia Yakumithis
My not-so guilty pleasure is“The Real Housewives” franchise.
When I was in elementary school, my mom had cancer. Today, we joke that the worst aspect of her illness was that while she was bedridden, she became severely addicted to reality TV franchise “The Real Housewives.”
While the frequent “beep” of cable censorship kept me from engaging in the show as a nine-year-old, I eventually gave into the hype. By the end of high school, I was fully sucked into this trainwreck of primetime television.
The show chronicles the lives of women who have a lot more than one checked suitcase full of emotional baggage tearing each other apart in their respective tight knit, wealthy communities. Dinner parties become blood feuds, baptisms become WWE brawls and lip injections become a right of passage. And yes, these women have all the receipts and a half.
More often than not, “The Real Housewives” offers viewers a peek into what happens when you have too much money and don’t know what to do with it. As someone who spends half a therapy session convulsing on the floor about my spending habits, this show allows me to vicariously live that good life through botox and $40,000 Birkin bags. I love it.
The success of the show’s first series — which featured five women from a gated community in Orange County — resulted in eight spinoffs in the U.S., along with several in England and Australia. When I got into the show, I watched the New Jersey cast, but it was such a trainwreck that I shifted gears to Beverly Hills, where the women are richer and pettier.
The different spinoffs premiere seasonally, usually two or three per cycle, so following more than one cast at a time is manageable if you don’t have a life but do have a lot of emotional problems.
I can easily commit an hour every Monday from April through August to watch Lisa Rinna get accused of Xanax addiction; tack on another hour on Wednesdays to see Boston University alumnus Bethenny Frankel cry every three minutes over her allergic reaction to fish at a private bungalow in Columbia. Oh, and did I mention “Jesus Jugs?” Yes, there’s a cast member whose nickname derives from the breasts her ex-husband paid for plus her devotion to the King of Kings. Sounds like a bargain for only a couple hours a week, not counting the hours of emotional detachment when the show isn’t airing.
Keeping up with more than one series at a time is honestly more productive than doing faculty led research. Each cast offers a comparative approach to sociological issues like wealth inequality — Taylor Armstrong spent $60,000 on her daughter’s fourth birthday party, while Kyle Richards barely broke five figures; marital trends — half of the housewives aren’t even housewives; and alcoholism — J .P. Morgan’s grandson’s ex-wife drunkenly attempting to make out with everything that moves in the Berkshires.
Even though The Real Housewives is definitely an acquired taste, in the words of New York City housewife Ramona Singer, “If you don’t like it, acquire some taste.” I guarantee that if you get sucked into the show, you won’t find your way out. But you won’t want to.
All things considered, I strongly suggest you hunker down with a glass of Pinot Grigio, comfy pants and enjoy the most calamitous hour of your day.