With The Real Housewives of Orange County, Bravo ingeniously offered a reality show that exploited the popularity of two scripted hits (The O.C. and Desperate Housewives) for the price of one. Our city might seem like a logical destination for the network’s attempt at franchising the property, since Real Housewives of the North Shore—which would have been far more interesting—just doesn’t have the same ring to it. RHONYC plays like an introduction to Manhattan for martians and cave dwellers, explaining the virtues of the Upper East Side and the necessity of a Hamptons house in terms even a second-grader can understand.
The title itself is a misnomer: The words “My career is so important to me”are repeated with mantralike frequency by the five subjects. All have money to burn and claim to be part of New York society, but all (except a countess, ironically the most laid-back) are outsiders looking in. When Mrs. Astor’s 400 ruled the town, these women (including the wives of an Australian hotel manager and a guy who manufactures home furnishings on the Lower East Side) would have languished deep in the thousands. The subjects presumably figured taking part in the series would help their bid for acceptance into the elite, which just shows how divorced from reality they are. Schadenfreude is, of course, a big part of the appeal of shows like this one, but it’s hard to direct the requisite level of ire at people who are so dull as to be completely unworthy of notice.