Monday, October 03, 2011

Girl Love

Something had to fill the hole left by Sex And The City. And along came Bravo's "The Real Housewives" reality tv series.

In similar thinking of "Field of Dreams" someone finally figured out that if you make movies and tv shows with strong female characters....they will come.

Maybe it was Thelma And Louise or maybe it was Lucy and Ethel...or maybe it was as far back as the Sirens or Muses. Women's friendships play a major force in Shakespeare. His plays often examine the influence of womens friendships within a community and also what a lack of those bonds does to a community. Jane Austin dissected womens bonds and mutual support or sometimes betrayal. Female interrelationships have become easier to find the last ten years or in entertainment. Women and their complex strange mysterious passionate friendships have become more of a popular focus in storytelling.

It's very difficult to explain how come and how much I really really enjoy watching "The Real Housewives" various series. I resisted at first. I didn't think it would be interesting at all. But the first series set in Orange County was on as a marathon one day and I got hooked. I couldn't look away. I had been a big fan of Desperate Housewives and Sex And The City. And then I found out that a couple of my gay friends and a neighbour were following these new tv series so let the games begin. These are fantastic programs for conversation. Conversation and dissection. Move over football and soccer this is sports for women. This is sports for people persons. For people who love friendships.

A new season of The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills has begun in the shadow of one of the women's husbands having committed suicide during the summer hiatus. Since 2006 the various housewives cast has had many changes in their lives including setbacks like divorces, a political/social scandal (party crashers at White House) and the economic crisis in the United States. But nothing as tragic and heavy as this loss for one of the housewives. I thought perhaps the series might be cancelled. Instead the premiere episode of "Beverly Hills" had the women without the widow, meeting and discussing the response and concerns regarding the death of one of their friends husbands. I thought the production handled this tragedy very well. After all, the entire season had been filmed and wrapped before the housewife Taylor Armstrong's husband had passed away.

All of the series casts have a lot in common in that they are in fairly well off situations financially, they are volatile and touchy, they are sincere at needing and wanting friendship and they all are fairly skittish if someone does something they feel has hurt them. Hurting feelings is one of the major themes of the program. Analyzing and picking at social taboos, social expectations and demanding loyalty are also major elements to the womens behaviours.

We are into week three of this season and it is fascinating. Out of all the locations, Beverly Hills is my favourite. The clothes are MORE. The houses are MORE. My favourite housewife in this series is Kyle. She was a chid star playing a recurring character on Little House On The Prairie ad a couple of horror movies. She is beautiful and looks a lot like Demi Moore. She has a hell of a sense of humour and she seems to be fairly earthy emotional in contrast to representing many stereotypes of a materialistic person.

I joke with Stagg that I watch Survivor and reality shows like The Real Housewives because they are like Shakespeare to me. And you know...it is about the human interelationships that I watch these kinds of shows. I can't take my eyes off and watch in utter suspense and excitement and just fall down enjoyment. They are anthropological. They are puzzles. They are mysteries. And I love them. They are juicy clusterfucks of human behaviour with ups and downs. Wonderful.

And this season has been so intense. This series offers a window into how community and its health of functioning is so interwoven with women's relationships. The health of the family and community has so much to do with the way women get along...or don't. And we can see this played out in "The Real Housewives" franchise. How strange and hilarious that reality tv is every bit as successful as Shakespeare was working with his imagination. It just makes him shine in my heart even more and love him even more.

Below is a sweet sad moment in a hot tub as one of the housewives is coming closer to a breakdown. It just is so intense. The scene that is very special is at 9:20 time code on the video. You can see that Taylor, the blonde housewife is not eating. The setting is a gorgeous hottub and looks like a Waterhouse painting to me. The way they move their heads, the colours of the rocks and water, their necks stretched. The listening and staring, poor Taylor unable to put words into the air her denial so powerful. If you scripted this I'm not so sure anyone would spend the time to watch it...there is something about it being actual people and yet it's also still storytelling and art...wow.

2 comments:

X. Dell said...

Um, right now I'm watching Monday Night Football. I guess we're going to have to concede a difference in taste, here.

Candy Minx said...

Ha ha thats great X Dell.I should be embarrassed to write in public I watch all the stuff I do, heh heh!

But... shall we say from an anthropological view... I don't see any difference in taste or value between football, or sports in general and a show like "Real Housewives". One of the interesting things about "taste" is that something doesn't have to be "high brow: or :low brow' for us to enjoy it. Sports is the marriage of art and war. Reality tv is also a marriage of art and war. Social life in North America has a side to it, perhaps a less nobel aspect, especially in the corporate and/or social climbing rich circles,with a lot of competitive behavours and rules and customs. The women in the "Real Housewives" franchise are always in the flux of bonding, competing, breaking social customs (or rules of the game) and being called out by others (like referees or umpires). Within genres of sports such as hockey and football and soccer...there are all kinds of layers of narratives. People who watch and love actual games often find dialogue through the cuts, trades, and scandals of players real lives contrasting with the rules and behaviours and gameship of the basic actual games.

I have no argument with you that in our culture reality tv is considered "low brow" and poor taste. You're absolutely correct!

But trust me...it delivers every bit of action, excitement, drama, gameship, petty sore loser moves and joy to an interested audience as watching hockey or football does to its interested audience.