In the past I might have referred to it as a “guilty” pleasure. Today, though, I am here to say that I feel absolutely no guilt in watching these shows.
Let me break down the extent of my viewing for you. There are 9 different shows/cities in the franchise. This constitutes about 992 episodes (at the time I am writing this). At roughly 41 to 43 minutes per episode, this equates to about 710 hours (not including commercials) of Real Housewives television.
I have watched Every. Single. Minute.
That’s right. I have watched about 710 hours of The Real Housewives.
I know what you are thinking. “My word woman! That is 710 hours of your life you will never get back!” Let me be very clear when I say, “I don’t want those hours back!” I don’t regret any single table-flipping, hair-pulling, mascara-running second of it.
Some of you watch too; maybe not as much, but you watch. I know you do. You may not be admitting it publicly yet. Some of you watch in secrecy, alone at night when the family can’t see you, huddled over your iPad with earphones. I’m here to give you the courage to admit to yourself (and to those around you) that there is nothing wrong with you. You can throw off the shackles of crappy TV viewing shame! You are not alone.
I could write an entire column about how I believe (and I truly do) that The Real Housewives franchise is a fascinating anthropological study of modern culture. I could posit that a viewer can learn a lot about wealth management, classism, narcissism, and consumption. But maybe another time.
What I will say, though, is that it is pure mind numbing, time wasting, entertainment of the highest degree. Where else can you watch grown women in stilettos and caftans taking a casserole over to a friend’s house while she recovers from a face lift? You cannot script LuAnn falling gracefully into the bushes on an inebriated girls weekend in Mexico…twice. You cannot find an actress around today who can slur a champagne toast like Dorinda, and there is no trained stunt person who can snatch a wig off a friend’s head with such swift precision as NeNe Leakes.
Here is some perspective, lest you really start losing respect for me. My favorite all-time TV shows are The West Wing, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. I adore intelligent, well-written, well-acted, scripted art. (I majored in TV and Film in college). So how is it I can stomach 710 hours of The Real Housewives? It’s such a dichotomy. It might be a question you are even asking yourself.
I can tell you that many of those hours of watching took place in a hospital room while my dad and my mom were sick.
It took place when I was trying (and failing) to breast feed my daughter, tears streaming down my face and hers.
I watched while folding endless loads of laundry because I was working full time and going back to school full time and housework got put on the back burner.
I watched after fights with my husband where we both said hurtful things to each other that we wished we could take back.
I watched while recovering from the loss of a baby and the news of a scary cancer diagnosis of loved ones.
I watched waiting for my teenage daughter to get home after she first got her license.
I watch after seeing horrible things in the news like planes flying into buildings, school shootings, and natural disasters.
I’ve also watched when I was happy and because I wanted a little fun.
I’ve watched while eating sleeves of girl scout cookies and a glass of moscato for no other reason than because I felt I deserved a little “me time.”
I needed to tune into these women with all their flaws, nastiness, occasional compassion and good deeds, and even their questionable plastic surgery and fashion choices. I’m thankful these shows have given me a voyeuristic, manufactured reality that has afforded me 710 hours of respite from my very genuine and oftentimes challenging real-life.
If I happen to learn a couple of things along the way, like the proper way to put on false eyelashes, suck out my cellulite for 2 Grand a pop, or how to protect the Birkin bag I’ll never own from the rain, well that’s just fine too.
No matter the reason, The Real Housewives have afforded me the opportunity to turn off my brain for 41 minutes at a time when I so desperately needed to turn it off.
That 41 minutes has lead to 710 hours over the years. Out of the close to 412,000 I have been alive, i’m OK with those numbers.