Let me start by saying I freakin’ love the Real Housewives series — Orange County, New York City, Atlanta, New Jersey, Beverly Hills, and Miami….although I must admit, Miami didn’t suck me in like the others. From Teresa’s table flipping to Kelly’s metaphor bastardization I can’t get enough of these wackadoos. Clearly I am not alone in my Housewives lovefest. The Real Housewives series success is the catalyst for launching Bravo into the stratosphere and propelling Andy Cohen into a pop culture icon.
My experience is that Real Housewives fans have a positive association to the brand and wear it like a badge of honor in the same way Lady Gaga wears Alexander McQueen. We are not ashamed to admit our addiction and we’re amongst good company when passing the Real Housewives bong. Denise Richards, Anderson Cooper, Kelly Rippa, Gayle King and a laundry list of other top celebrities publicly toke on that same bong when going on Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live to mingle with and dish about the Housewives. Seriously, watching Anderson Cooper giggle uncontrollably with Nene Leakes makes me deliriously happy.
And none of us self-proclaimed Housewives fanatics seem to mind that “real” is usually not even delivered as part of the Real Housewives brand promise. The word is used quite loosely when describing the program’s content. Given that 10 housewives have declared bankruptcy, I’m not sure much footage is grounded in reality. Yet we still toke away on the brand.
But while many peeps get doped up on the Real Housewives brand, mass quantities of people feel that the series is an assassination of their regional brand. As if Jersey Shore didn’t instantly strip the state of New Jersey of all dignity and positive brand equity, along came the Guidices and Gorgas to make sure the state’s perception stayed permanently flat lined. Judging from the social media chatter and blogosphere activity, the same brand assassination appears to have occurred when people think of places like Orange County, Atlanta, Beverly Hills, and Miami. For some reason, New York City appears to have stayed above the brand assassination fray. The NYC brand image is clearly way too big and established to be impacted by Jill Zarin’s bullying or Ramona Singer’s alcohol-fueled antics.
But, let’s get real. This is television. While we may get hypnotized by word “real,” do you really, really think it is? This is about ratings. This is about amping up the shock factor so the Housewives can keep the paychecks coming to dig themselves out of bankruptcy. Mo’ crazy mo’ money — the crazier they act, the more money they’ll get. It’s a business and I happily show up and pay my toll. I love it because unlike the rest of my life, it requires not-one-singe-brain-cell to process. And at the end of the day, I have enough common sense to know that these nutbags are not an accurate representation of people from the show’s state or region. When I think of New Jersey, I think of my friend Grace who embodies every attribute you would want in a human being — honesty, integrity, humor, generosity, kindness and a dedication to family that rivals Caroline Manzo’s.
Do you think Real Housewives is assassinating the regional brands or are you able to separate the two? Oh, yeah, and while you’re at it, who do you think is the craziest Housewive of all time?