Remember all the way back to the first season of The Real Housewives of Orange County? Okay, we don’t either, but we have some dim memory of that show capturing a weird, insular world where grown women stewed in their wealth, idleness, isolation, loneliness, insecurity, unhappiness, and stupidity. Once upon a time, Housewives was sociology, and it was awesome, in its own gross way. There was an innocence there — a bovine cluelessness that lent a kind of pathos to the whole endeavor. But now that the franchise has jumped the shark and that poor (well, not poor poor), button-eyed Andy Cohen is too drunk to operate the machinery, what has it become, all faked cage matches and narcissism and referential ideation? Is it WWE for ladies? Some kind of Orwellian two-minute hate stretched out over a network hour? Kabuki? We can’t put our finger on it.
Okay, so, the characters don’t really know each other; they have no real connection to the city they’re supposed to be representing; and they know perfectly well that they have been carefully hand-selected to hate each other. They’ve come on the show to promote their businesses (we have a portfolio of a hundredy billionsy trillion blah blah blah) or their personal “brands” or to maybe even become celebrities and get their own show like Bethenny did. The problem is that watching people trying to become famous for being their bitchy, arrogant, decadent, ugly, and annoying selves was only fun for like the first eight years. What if — are you listening, Andy? — the ladies from TRHODC were rounded up and airlifted and cargo-dropped onto a deserted island where maggots could lay eggs in their wounds? Because we’d watch that. Plus, it would be retro, which would sort of match the retro theme of fashioning your life into one long Falcon Crest audition, like these ladies are doing. It would also, you know, keep them away from the president.
But whatever, let’s take a closer look at the specimens:
Mary, a.k.a. Smuggy: Some people call her a supermom. Those people would not be us. Greatest accomplishments: living in the same neighborhood as Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, flipping her hair. “Foooooooondest” memory: hanging out at the Kennedy compound as a kid. Signature move: having a Digiscan lock installed on her closet door to keep her daughter out. Mary is not above pulling strings to get her husband included on Washingtonian’s most stylish men list, even if the man has a penchant for neon pants.
Stacie, a.k.a. Businessy: A real-estate broker and alpha lady with two highly structured kids and a husband who balances her out. According to Stacie, you can’t call yourself a D.C. native if you live in McLean — so fuck you, Mary! Just kidding, she didn’t say that. In fact, when Stacie found out that Janet Jackson’s very own personal chef would be coming to her house to cook, she immediately sat down with her friend to make a list of all the cast members, exactly as if it were a real party and they were her real friends. That is, until Cat started in with the racist stuff — because how else was Stacie supposed to interpret the fact that Cat doesn’t care for Tyra Banks or Barack Obama?
Lynda, a.k.a. Horny, a.k.a. Scary: She runs the top modeling agency in D.C. Divorced with four kids who look, incongruously, like Mormon hipsters, and at 52 she enthusiastically licks chops at male models and is dating a man “twice her size and half her age.” Lynda has joined the cast to play the vampy cougar lady and do her part to help direct the nation’s seething rage and resentment at single women over 40 who insist on having sex, so that’s cool. Also, she hates Michaele and is telling everyone she is anorexic, which she obviously is, and proud.
Michaele, a.k.a. Nuts: Finally! Salahi! Here is the woman who risked going to prison to get cast on a reality show! (And it’s not over yet.) As it turns out, the Salahis, who sell themselves as the founders of a polo tournament (Lynda calls it a “goat rodeo,”), are also the proud owners of a vineyard and a mountain of unpaid debts. They’re the Joe and Teresa of Virginia, only much horsier. Salahi enjoys hugging and considers herself a “motivator.” “Yes we can!” she says. Apparently she means crash the White House.
Cat: A real, live American-hating English lady! Yay, English! Mary is excited. Cat moved to Virginia eighteen months before the show started filming to reunite with her childhood boyfriend, Charles Ommaney, a prizewinning photographer for Newsweek. Ommaney has worked at the White House for many years, so Cat starts slagging the president for not RSVPing to her wedding. “George” (Bush) RSVPed, but Obama was apparently ‘too busy’ or something, even though “Obama and all his crew knew about the romance [between Cat and Chuck] from day one.” Rude bastard. He didn’t RSVP when we invited him to our weddings, either! In what we’re sure is an unrelated incident, Charles and Cat are already divorced.