Why We Like

Elaine Williams

There are too few times in our lives when we get to witness pure excess coupled with complete immaturity, cattiness and arrogance. Luckily, one of those times returns tonight, when the new season of “The Real Housewives of New York City” airs its first episode.I love the housewives for the glorious and flashy escapism that they provide. They live in beautiful homes, can buy anything they want, frequently visit the Hamptons, home of my idol Ina Garten, and seem to never have to work (except when they promote a book or new single, as the Real Housewives are wont to do). When I’m stuck reading about international aid programs and workplace globalization, all I want is to do is go to fabulously expensive lunch spots with my girlfriends-fake or otherwise-and have passive aggressive spats about who has class and who is trashy. On the same note, the irony is possibly the best part of the entire series. Yelling at each other about classiness in very dignified and public places, seemingly unaware that what they are doing is by definition not classy, is why this show is as great as it is.

Usually, the only housewives we are familiar with are our mothers and their friends. My concept of “housewives” was significantly different before evil genius Andy Cohen conceived of the brilliance that is “The Real Housewives” series. An episode of “The Real Housewives of Western Pennsylvania” would include a lot of boring Brownie meetings, carpooling and gossiping at work about kids and husbands. The housewives I grew up knowing wore a lot more Talbot’s and Chico’s than Cavalli and Ralph Lauren. None of them had “gay husbands” and, as far as I know, they never had knock-down, drag-out fights in the middle of five-star restaurants about who was betraying whom. They also didn’t have a city like New York as the backdrop for all of their exploits, and let’s face it, sweeping panoramas of New York City always make reality shows seem much more glamorous than they actually are.

Yes, they may not have the pure sassiness of the Atlanta housewives or the probable Mafia connections of their New Jersey counterparts. They aren’t quite as leathery and plastic as the OC originals. But these New York ladies have something the other Housewives do not: just enough intelligence that you can walk away from their fights not feeling like you exploited the hardships and problems of some truly idiotic people, which happens so often with reality shows. Whether your favorite housewife is self-proclaimed “skinny bitch” Bethenny, nasally-yet-hilarious Jill, quasi-royalty “Countess” Luann, batty and gaunt Alex (who is so hip because she lives in Brooklyn, you guys), insanely self-absorbed Kelly or bug-eyed Ramona, you can’t deny that all of these women are strangely enticing and intoxicating.