I have a confession to make. I’m not proud of this- but maybe if I admit it here-the spell will be broken. I watch several of the Real Housewives programs on Bravo. Not all of them- I have my limits. I watch the Beverly Hills, Orange County and New Jersey addict- er rather, editions.
The most disturbing part is I don’t know why I find myself tuning into watch these faux reality programs. They are fake even though they feature real people in their actual homes. Beyond that to suggest many of the storylines on these shows actually happened would be ridiculous. Every week, it’s the same parade of fashionable, privileged women getting drunk, being catty and stabbing each other in the back.
Puppygate is the current “scandal” that is being exhausted on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Allegedly, one character adopted a puppy from the rescue business of another character and Lucy Apple Juicy (great name!) ended up at a shelter. I do not believe this happened at all. Yet, I have watched them drag this tired storyline though all four episodes of the season so far. It’s a seemingly endless contest of who betrayed who and who is using the situation to get back at a rival for past indiscretions. You would think I’d have something better to do with my time!
So, why do I keep tuning in? (Sigh) I’m not a psychologist but I do have a theory. I suspect that I get a bit of kick out out of watching rich people, who seem to have every advantage imaginable, act like morons. It doesn’t reflect well on me that I would enjoy something like that but I don’t think I am alone. There is something reassuring about it. You can say to yourself, “hey, just one of her kitchen cabinets is worth more than my car but at least I never sprained my ankle while drunkenly jumping into a hot tub naked!” (Money really can’t buy you class!)
The Germans call it Schadenfreude. It’s the pleasure derived by one person from witnessing another’s misfortune. I don’t know if Andy Cohen, the producer of these franchises realized he was tapping into this complex human emotion when he came up with the Real Housewives but he has definitely profited from it. It sounds awful, doesn’t it? Deriving pleasure from someone else’s misfortune?
Before you judge me, let’s go back to the fact I don’t think that most of the storylines are real. In fact, when some actual reality has crept into these shows like the passing of one character’s beloved mother or the ongoing battle with heart disease that another character’s husband has been enduring, I have been genuinely moved. I think it’s actually these unscripted situations that really keep these shows on the air. Without these poignant moments, you would be inclined to forget that you are watching real human beings at all.
Perhaps now that I have confessed my sins, I won’t be compelled to watch anymore… or maybe just one more episode…or I’ll just finish out the current season and then never watch again…