I have a group of friends I get together with once or twice a week. They are typically wearing the latest fashions. I am rocking sweatpants, a messy bun, and a shirt that probably has kid snot or this morning’s breakfast on it. They are sporting the season’s hottest handbags. My purse has been traded in for a diaper bag full of extra clothes, wipes, and bottles. Their faces are botoxed to the max and I’ve got bags under my eyes that could be mistaken for luggage.
In this group I’m kind of an outsider. They go on lavish getaways to places I could only dream of. I haven’t been out of the country since college. Fancy dinners and boozy brunches are the norm for these ladies. Champagne and caviar aren’t just for special occasions with this bunch. My husband and I are lucky if we can sneak out for a kid-free evening of running errands and a dinner at a local quick casual restaurant. Their life is full of glitz and glamour; mine is filled with dog hair and an endless to-do list…there’s nothing glamorous about that!
(Not So) Guilty Pleasure
You may ask yourself how I fit in with such an exclusive group when I am just a local suburban mom, wife, and teacher? Truth is, this hour-or-so visit with these other “housewives” gives me sanity, escape, and gratitude for my normal, everyday life. I don’t actually know these women in real life, but I know everything about them, including where they live, what kind of car they drive (that G-Wagon is hideous, Kelly!), and their families.
The Real Housewives franchise is my guilty pleasure. But why should I feel guilty about it? I watch every city and every season. I listen to a couple of their podcasts and read their blogs. I’ve even bought some of their beauty products in hopes to avoid a bad facelift in the future because I don’t want to look like the OG of the OC. Why does an educated, busy, intelligent mom watch these women year after year? They fight, talk about each other, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, and live a lifestyle I could never dream of having.
I watch reality TV to escape my own reality. There is nothing wrong with my day-to-day. I have a great life. Sometimes, I feel like I could have my own reality show between work and home! Working full time, two small children, husband, and an active social life doesn’t leave a lot of time for much else, but I always make time for my housewives (my daughter calls it “The Show with the Ladies”). This type of TV is mindless, it doesn’t require a lot of thinking. There is usually some drama, a fancy party where said drama occurs, and brunch where they rehash said fancy party.
Everyone is a Disaster Deep Down
While watching other people’s daily lives might seem boring, to me it’s soothing. I like to see that sometimes people who appear to have it all together might actually be a hot mess inside. I like to see that, behind their lavish homes in their gated communities, they have messy counters and kids who don’t listen, just like me! Sometimes though, I do make comparisons to these women, as I do to women I know in real life. I think most of us would be lying if we said we didn’t stack ourselves up against each other.
Is this constant evaluation of ourselves healthy? Probably not. Am I going to stop using reality TV to escape my own reality? Probably not. What I do know is that watching The Real Housewives of whatever city is a form of relaxation for me in a life that is sometimes full of stress. I could use my time more productively. I could go to the gym or meal prep for the week ahead, but instead I choose to zone out, chill out, and see how the other half lives. Don’t worry, I will only be interrupted 12 times to get someone a drink, make a snack, or take someone to the bathroom.