Posted by: cassymuronaka | February 21, 2009

The Surreal Housewives

Somewhere deep in Manhattan there is someone who is as morbidly fascinated with “The Real Housewives of Orange County” as I am with “The Real Housewives of New York.” And both of us are embarrassed to admit it.

Each television series holds up a mirror to a phony alternative universe of women living excessively privileged lives on two different American coasts. And I’m thinking that the level of interest in either show is directly related to which coast is further away from where you live.

As disconnected with reality as “The Real Housewives of Orange County” is, there’s also a creepy familiarity to the almost uniformly blonde and lip-plumped cougars stalking the show. This is no doubt due to the fact that I’ve spent 2/3 of my life in Southern California, residing any anywhere from 4 blocks to 37 miles from a beach at any given time. The mammary-based value system of the Orange County “housewives” is not a revelation nor an object of interest to me. And that’s why those girls bore me to tears.

Not so with the women who sun themselves in the Hamptons.

Despite the fact that I majored in Anthropology, I am still finding it impossible to fathom some of their value systems. I absorbed the complex matriarchal kinship structures of some African and Australian tribes far more quickly than I have have dissected the petty nuances of New York’s nouveau riche.

Standing tallest among the incomprehensible are Alex McCord and her near-appendage husband, Simon van Kempen. These two comprise the couple that lives to shop. They are the most socially ambitious but the least well-funded. To say that my jaw has dropped to the floor while watching these two attempt to claw their way up the so-called New York City social register is an understatement. I’m now into the second episode of the second season of this show, and as near as I can figure, their only redeeming qualities seem to be a genuine love for their children, an unquestioning support for whatever the other spouse is wearing that day, and a boundless enthusiasm for the fact that men can unabashedly sport Speedos on the beach at St. Bart’s.


And their children! Well, let’s just say that we all hope that little Johan and Francois will get that Type-ADD private school education that their parents so desperately crave, because they are going to need it to nail down the über-jobs that are going to pay for all those upcoming years of therapy.

I could go on – I haven’t even gotten to LuAnn, who is a countess, a nurse, a model and “a member of the Algonquin tribe of Connecticut” – but I have to save something for future posts.


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