Friday, June 24, 2011

My Favorite Things: Reality TV III

This is where things take a turn: reality TV I am equally fascinated with and horrified at. The "must look at the car accident" looky-loo kind of attraction that signals something bad.

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Oh, yes. This entry into the franchise holds a power over me that is really, really disturbing. I think it is because unlike the other sites (Atlanta, Orange County, NY, NJ), Beverly Hills qualifies as Fantasy Island, so perhaps I sense a stronger whiff of non-reality TV than is good for me. It cannot be "real"... can it?

Oh, the excess! Oh, the bad behavior! All against the background of privilege, money, entitlement, and shallow glamour.

Again, I've only seen this while vacationing elsewhere, so cannot judge an entire season or series of shows. I am not even certain I have all the players yet, but without that I can still "enjoy" the backbiting, gossip, manipulations... all of the things that actually make it nasty.

I do not know about "real" or "housewives," but the Beverly Hills part seems only too true. Houses, limos, dresses, jewelry, bags and shoes, kids, husbands, dogs... whatever. I cannot fathom what these women call a "normal" day, which is probably one of the attractions.

And of course despite the "glamour," their relationships with husbands, children, and friends seem so unstable, unfulfilling, and combustible. Nothing makes them happy but a limited palette of shallow--and undoubtedly material--things, while they search for happiness, respect, connections, and meaning. And deny those things to each other.

I guess I could learn from RHOBH that money doesn't bring happiness, and things are a facile substitute for real connections to people, and that a life without giving to others or generosity of spirit leads to fear, anger, and uncertainty... but I think (hope) I already knew that.

What I don't get, and what ultimately fascinates me:
  • these women will reveal anything on camera, apparently without limits
  • these women are apparently okay showing the lack of depth or generosity or charity in their lives
  • these women are so interested in being "reality celebrities" they will hurt each other or embarrass each other
  • these women don't see that they are clones of each other, in the worst way, like a high school clique or a pack of hyenas (rmember that Buffy episode with the hyena-clique?)
  • these women are okay revealing they don't like each other, when they know everything is on camera... and don't care that their hurtful remarks might be seen and heard by the world at large
  • these women don't understand that their most intense moments of naked vulnerability and pain are the only "real" thing about the show
This is what we really have to fear from being "on camera" all the time: whose life will bear the brunt of constant observation? It's either high drah-ma or boring everyday "normality': which would be most devastating to these women?

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