Housewives of New Jersey – Ordinary Women Behaving Badly

Housewives_newjersey320 There appears to be nothing more deliciously entertaining than a group of women engaging in conspicuous consumption and petty squabbles that might unkindly be referred to as catfights. 

"The Real Housewives of Orange County" came first with its cast of California women with money, big houses and plenty of free time. It was followed by spinoffs focusing on housewives in New York and Atlanta. The New York crew was presented as party-hopping socialites. The Atlanta ladies were mostly the nouveau riche wives of athletes.

Now "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" premieres May 12, but the Bravo network broadcast a 30-minute teaser last week. And if the preview is an accurate indication of what is to come, the show will revel in stereotypes about tough-talking Jersey girls, desperate cougars and Italian Americans. The preview was a bit like "The Sopranos" on estrogen.

There is no defending "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." In fact, there's no excuse for any of the shows.

One might assume all that promiscuous spending at a time like this would stir outrage or jealousy. But if the housewives offer any lesson, it is that all the money in their lives does not succeed in making their lives enviable. It only seems to make their homes more crowded with stuff and their behavior that much more appalling.

The most valuable lesson to be learned from "The Real Housewives" may be that we still have the capacity to even be appalled. With "The Real Housewives" we are reminded that we can still be astonished by rudeness and incivility.  They are ordinary women behaving badly.

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