“Those Housewives” Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 24 2012 @ 8:13pm

A reader pushes back:

Ok, I have to comment on your continued bashing of Bravo and the Housewives.  First of all, saying that "at its core it is a form of pornography of female spite for gay male misogynists."  While I appreciate your gay-centric universe, I'm pretty sure that there are a LOT of straight women watching these shows, including my sister, mother, aunts and sister-in-law.  I would even bet that the majority of the people that watch the Housewives shows are not, in fact, gay.  I also know that a show like Jersey Shore, or The Bachelor, or whatever, is not aimed at gay people and the people on those shows act just as ridiculous.

Second of all, what is the big deal exactly?  People are not watching these shows and taking joy from watching someone die of cancer, or get raped.  They are laughing when some obnoxious asshole who flaunted their money goes broke.  Or taking comfort in the fact that rich people have lives that are just as boring and petty as theirs.  Nothing wrong with that in my book.

Yes, Russell Armstrong killed himself, which is a tragedy.  Did you know that Armstrong's business partner, who was never on the show, also killed himself during the same time period?  Did you know that the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was a popular series before anyone committed suicide and when everyone was just walking around like fabulous, obnoxious assholes?  Did you know that the guy who cuts my hair has a father who killed himself, and he was never on a reality show?

Is a reality show supposed to stop taping when something real actually happens?  Are the characters suddenly no longer interesting?  Do we, as viewers, suddenly stop caring about them? If I read a fiction book where a character kills himself, does that make me depraved?  Does it mean that I delight in self destruction, or does it mean that its just an interesting story that can tell us something about life and the human condition?

I watched Beverly Hills Housewives before the suicide, and I will continue watching it now.  And this may shock you, but I actually hope no one else kills themselves!

I actually felt that the suicide of Armstrong was one moment when reality television actually was reality television. And Bravo essentially removed almost all of that story line in the broadcast. Reality is not what "The Real Housewives" is about. It's about the crass vulgarity of celebrity culture – unscripted soaps with no actors to pay. It's about the selling of one's soul and dignity for a glimpse of fame. It's sick.