Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I'm reading that Raymond Carver story that's in The New Yorker right now, and of course it's all about suburban ennui, that great philosophical ache of both wanting and having. This same sadness and rumble-from-deep-below can be found on the television. I'm not talking about reruns of The Sopranos or even Brothers & Sisters. I am, of course, talking about Bravo's exquisite rumination on the modern American psyche, The Real Housewives of Orange County. If you haven't been watching this show, now in its third season, you really should be. As Rose put it last night, "If you looked up nouveau-riche in Merriam-Webster's, it would just be a video clip of this show." That pretty much sums it up. In case you've missed it, I'll give you a brief rundown of the three best ladies of Coto Canyon, CA.

Jeana: The former Playboy Playmate is maybe the most cannabalistic of all the mothers, pimping her two sons out to baseball careers they seem to only vaguely want and her daughter to the acting career she herself had a small taste of during the heady Hef days. Jeana is lazy and casually mean, obsessed with (talking about) her money, and friends with a big, fat, vaguely ethnic gay home decorator. He makes any house look like a Greek restaurant built in 1986. Mmm.

Lauri: She of the ultra Botoxed, stretched and tucked face, Lauri fancies herself quite the beauty. But at 45 the lines are beginning to irreversibly show, so thank god she found a new bajillionaire hubby several years after her first marriage crumbled. She's got a monstrous early-twentysomething daughter, Ashley, who is repulsive both inside and out, though she fancies herself the opposite on both accounts. Lauri has also chosen to basically forsake and abandon her troubled son, Josh. He's been in and out of rehab and juvenile facilities and he's just too difficult to fit into her newly perfect, be-zirconia-ed life. So, Josh moved in with Lauri's new husband's ex-wife. Beautiful.

Vicki: Vicki is probably the most tragic of the Housewives. A refugee from a glum, big-haired existence in the Midwest, Vicki is at turns a strong, assertive business woman, a "whoo hoooo!"-ing party "girl" lush, and a doting, far too overprotective and needy mother. Vicki openly admits to manipulating her children with money and wears tight pants and shows up unexpectedly at her dopey, potato-ish son's college in Colorado and does keg stands. She's horrifying and terrific, probably possessing a great heart, but one that only glows dimly from underneath the Emporio Fashion Bug wardrobe.

Are you intrigued? You should be. There are three other fairly hideous characters to boot. One who didn't believe her daughter when she called to say her father was lying dead on the floor from a heart attack. And another who calls herself "the hottest housewife in Orange County", whose layabout pucker-faced 21-year-old son (she's 40) refuses, with utterly sincere point of purpose, to get a job.



Colonel Mustard said...

I watch this show all. the. time. I love how Tammy continues to passive-aggressively trash-talk Lou EVEN IN DEATH, and how George totally seems like the Bluebeard type, with an attic full of dead ex-wives.

(Full disclosure: I think Ryan is sort of cute [I KNOW!] despite being a layabout wastrel, and Vicki's tantrum about the "LITTLE! FAMILY! VAN!" from last season is like my kryptonite -- I am prostrate before it.)

Cobb said...

Dude. You are weird.

Lady Artemisia Frontbottom said...

I love this show beyond all reason. I mean, the women are utter vultures, but the show doesn't even feign glamourizing them. It gives them just enough rope.

I will say though that whatsername (um, the fat one? The one who was a playmate?) is smarter than the rest of them combined (damning with faint prase, I know) and that Vicki's husband Don is every flavour of awesome.