A Long Way from Stepford

Apparently, being a “wife” is the new black. Wives are hot! And they are everywhere.  If you wanted to, on any given night, you could turn on the TV to watch them. Learn about them.  Aspire to be them. These are not garden-variety housewives, because let’s face it, who wants to be like them?! No, we are talking rock wives, basketball wives, football wives, sister wives. Oh my! And if those categories don’t tickle your fancy–don’t worry! We’ve got wives from almost every region of the U.S.–Atlanta, Beverly Hills, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Orange County–all representin’.

I’ve watched these wives.  Not all of them, but certainly my fair share.  I find the shows to be fascinating, in a horrifying kind of way.  But only for the first season or two.  After that, the cast members, and that’s exactly what they are, cast members, become minor celebrities.  They start playing to the camera, offering up bigger than life versions of themselves. By season two, or three, they travel with an entourage, have recorded an album, published a cookbook. They may even have their own clothing line–featuring a tee shirt that reads: TEAM (insert their name). And sadly, by this point, there’s also a good chance they are filing for divorce. This is when I tend to lose interest.  The women, who certainly have every right to self-promote, are no longer fascinating to me, even in a horrifying way.  They’ve become sitcom characters.  Overly Botoxed, desperate-for-fame, sitcom characters.

I should be ashamed of myself for watching these shows.  The more I watch, the more likely it becomes that Bravo, VH1, TLC, E!, Style, etc., will churn out this crap. I watch, but I don’t aspire.  I gasp, giggle, and gag.  I am guessing most women my age view these programs the same way.   What about younger women though?  And teens?  Do they get that there is nothing admirable about the behavior of the celebreality wives?  Or if there is, it is buried so far under the sensationalized stuff, that it is lost?  No, I shouldn’t watch. By doing so, I am not only helping Hollywood reinforce negative stereotypes about women, I am also giving my tacit approval to a vapid, navel-gazing lifestyle.

I know there is a segment of society that resembles these women.  I’ve met many of them in real life.  But I’ve met many more, very cool, extremely interesting women–wives–who don’t pass their time spending excessive amounts of money, who don’t gossip like catty school girls. Women who are basically fine with the way they look, don’t carve themselves up just because society says they should.  Women who get enjoyment from building their peers up, not from tearing them down. Those women might not be made for television, but they are made for friendship. And that is what I want my teenage daughter to aspire to be a part of, a community of women who are made for friendship.  Solid, smart, giving, kind, kick-ass women.  Heck, that’s what I want for myself.  And over the years, thankfully, I have built those types of relationships.  Am friends with those types of women.

So 2010 might just be, at least pop culture wise, the year of the wife.  But, as is often the case, the spotlight is focused on that which is easily digestible, rather than that which is good for us.  And as is always the case, it is up to us (me!) to decide what I will consume.  I can think of several women I know who would not only be interesting to watch, but who would also inspire an audience. Oh well, not going to happen.  At least not this year. Maybe in 2011…

Do you watch the Real–Football–Basketball–Rock–Sister wives?  If so, why?


11 responses

  1. I don’t watch any of those shows , although I caught a little of Married to Rock and Perry farrell’s wife confessed kissing his best friend the night before and he didn’t care. yeah, that’s the real world.

    I keep telling my wife and her best friend from work they should have their own show. They’re both sarcastic, funny, nuts, but neither possess a mean spirited bone in their bodies and they’d give the shirts off there backs to help the ones they love. They have terrible taste in music but they’re good cooks. I don’t know, maybe a cooking show or a talk show where they make fun of those wives on those shows you mentioned.

  2. I don’t watch any of those shows, only because I don’t have time. Otherwise I’d probably fall prey to them. 🙂

    Part of me thinks that, in addition to fascination with celebrity & riches, women are drawn to the demanding strong outspoken characters… traits we maybe want a little more of. Many of those women have bad characteristics, but there may be some good ones in there. Just sayin. I don’t actually know, since I don’t watch them!

    • @Lance, I’d watch your wife’s show–but she’d have to keep the shirt on her back–otherwise, it might not be that different from some of the shows that are already on the air.

      @Normaltown, The Beverly Hills wives are my current favorite. I know, I know…

      @Ginger, I am sure there is a lot to like about most of these women, unfortunately, it is the crazy ass stuff that garners most of the attention. Be glad you aren’t watching… it’s really hard to stop once you start.

  3. i don’t watch any of those shows…i might find myself captivated by “Full Throttle Saloon” or some other crap on TruTV, but i’ve never watched any of the “Housewives” shows…

    To me it’s like watching “wrasslin'” here in the south…you’re not sure why, you’re sure it’s staged, but millions stayed glued to the TV each week to see the same story line that has been used 1000 times.

    The irony of shows like the Housewives and Full Throttle is that it’s called “reality tv”, when the reason most watch it is to escape reality for a short time. It’s watching the train wreck, but knowing beforehand that no one will get injured.

    at the end of the day, i’d rather go for a run, read a book to my 4 yr old, and give my on wife a hug and a kiss ;- )

  4. I used to watch every Real Housewife episode…but then something happened…I got sick. Like way too sick of all the negativity and train wreckedness and I became sad and couldn’t watch anymore.

    SO….I haven’t seen the Bev Hills version…and I am slightly curious…but……

    Still sick.

  5. I think I watch to feel better about myself. Money and fame do NOT buy happiness. These women seem to be so very unhappy in every way. They have a big hole they try to fill with fashion, purchases, luxury,etc but somehow, it’s never enough.

    I love that I don’t know anyone really like these people. And I do love watching the train wreck.

  6. If you can believe this, I have never watched any of the wives shows. I usually love train wrecks but for some reason I haven’t gotten into these shows. The few snippets I have seen make me giggle and gag as well. And I too wonder what the y ounger generations of women/girls think about them and how these shows affect their self-esteem and self-image. Great post Jenn! xo

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