Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What If I Was a "Real Housewife?"

I was watching "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" Sunday night, and I started wondering about why the "Housewives" franchise was so popular and why I liked to watch it.

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I like reality TV.  

I am not ashamed to admit it. I even wrote a whole blog post about that once, "Reality TV, A Primer."  I listed my favorites, why they were good TV and what you could learn (yes, you can actually learn something from some reality TV shows - how to be naked and afraid or race around the world or cut up a chicken in 60 seconds or less). 

Here is what I said about "The Housewives" in that blog post.

"Why is it good reality?

Because watching other people live out their dramas while I am drinking a glass of wine with my feet up is very relaxing.

What you will learn:  that you are truly addicted."

And I guess I am.  I look back on earlier posts and see that I have not only written about television quite a bit, very early on I also wrote about the "Housewives."  But I guess I have more to say.

I know people who not only turn their noses up at these kinds of shows, but at television in general. But I also know, that people who consider themselves intellectuals of a sort (and I am one) are watching.

Here is an article in "Psychology Today" that is a case in point:

"Why We Can't Stop Watching The Real Housewives." 

"A survey of over 200 people by my Psychology Today colleague Steven Reiss, found that people with intellectual interests were equally as likely to watch reality TV as those without an intellectual bent."

See, you other intellectuals?  You can come out of the closet now.

The article ends with...

"And what about the transformation of the term “Housewife” from it’s mid-19th century focus on domesticity and running the household, to a term synonymous with “girlfriend” or “posse member?”  Whether married or single, a mother or childless, rich or poor, working mom or stay at home spouse, friend or enemy, all the women are known as “Housewives.” And there’s something refreshingly unifying, and transformational about that!"

So somehow vindicated and feeling less guilty, I took it one step further.

Why isn't there a Housewives franchise for us "over the hill gang," us retired folks?

What if I was a "Real Housewife" on a show like that?

What kind of a "Housewife" would I be?

From my many years of watching, er, studying the Housewives, I have broken  down the criteria for being a housewife into 5 characteristics:

First, to be a "Real Housewife," you need a tagline.

At the beginning of every show, each Housewife introduces herself with one sentence to describe herself, known in the biz as a tagline e.g.

Lisa Vanderpump - Beverly Hills - Season 2:
"Life in Beverly Hills is a game, and I make the rules."

Kenya Moore - Atlanta - Season 5: 
"I won Miss USA, not Miss Congeniality."

Nene Leakes - Atlanta - Seasons 1 & 2:
"I don't keep up with the Joneses, I AM the Joneses."

Dina Manzo - New Jersey - Seasons 1 & 2:
"If you think I'm a bitch, then bring it on!"

Tamra Barney - Orange County - Season 5: 
"Housewives come younger but they don't come hotter."

You get the idea.

So if I was a retired housewife, this would be my tagline:


 "I may be a lady of leisure, but I won't take anything lying down."

How's that?

Second, to be a housewife, you need to create conflict by being a meddling mother, sister or friend or HAVE a meddling mother, sister or friend or a bone to pick with someone ALL OF THE TIME.

I guess I have done my fair share of meddling in my life.  Bone picking, not so much except with Hubby and the kids, but my bone picking days are over. I promise.

Third, you have to be a skinny bitch.
I could probably qualify for the bitch part, but we women of a certain age have decided to save our faces instead of our butts.

Fourth, money or a peripheral connection to fame.
Well, I DO have a pension and I have high fived a Beatle (Ringo) and had my picture taken with Andie McDowell.  Does that count?

Finally, a real housewife must have a point of view.
No problem there.

It's fun to imagine the glamour of being a "Real Housewife," wearing designer gowns, looking fabulous as the camera follows me around on expensive shopping sprees and to parties full of celebrities, but I would guess that the "Real Retired Housewives of Seattle" won't be happening anytime soon.

And much as I love reality TV, I know there is nothing "real" about the "Real Housewives."  My daughter ran a high-end swimsuit shop in Atlanta a few years ago and a couple of the housewives came in and were filmed there.  My daughter told me how the producer set up the shot by telling the housewives what they were going to talk about. I can't say I was that surprised about the lack of spontaneity, but it did burst my bubble a bit.

So we know that the "Housewives" are not really "real."

But what IS a real housewife, something all of us ordinary women can aspire to?

Here is what I think.

The word "real" is defined as "actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact, not imagined or supposed. (of a substance or thing), not imitation or artificial, genuine."

This last weekend, this retired housewife decorated two Christmas trees and the rest of the house, watched a movie or two (we were snowed in), exercised, texted and talked to our grown children.  Today (still snowed in), I wrote this blog, texted my daughter, talked to my son, exercised, watched some TV and enjoyed a glass of wine with the wine guzzling poodle while enjoying the fruits of my weekend labor. 


Oh, and I spent time with Hubby.

Tomorrow I plan to brave the elements, go to the gym, go to a movie, run errands, cook dinner and hang out with Hubby. 

Such is the life of a Real Housewife (retired).

We can vicariously enjoy the drama and glamour of the TV show as we sit in our real homes with our real husbands or our real families or our real friends.

But as defined in the "Psychology Today" article I mentioned, we women are all "housewives," regardless of our age, our marital status, our wealth or whether we work outside the home or not.

A real housewife is real: she actually exists, she is genuine.

She is a girlfriend; she is in our posse.

She is a real loving wife to her husband (if she has one) or significant other.

She is a real loving mother to her kids (if she has them).

She is a successful career woman.

She is a real friend (I hope she has some).

And she is real and loving to herself.

We are the Real Housewives.

Thanks for reading!
See you Friday
for my review of
"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part I,"
"The Week in Reviews"

and the latest on my


"1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."


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