Bravo launched in New Zealand this week, bringing with it about 300 iterations of the Real Housewives franchise. Tara Ward, a real housewife herself, decided to see how their daily lives compare. With wine.
A friend called me a ‘housewife’ the other day, a shocking attack that made me cry into the giant pile of washing that I was folding. “How cruel,” I thought, as I prepared the evening meal for my family. “I don’t know anyone who identifies themselves as a housewife, not even my mother.” I vowed to ask her about it after I picked the kids up from school and she got back from the supermarket.
‘Housewife’ is an awful, old-fashioned word. Being married to your house seems like a pretty shit relationship, unless you live in DotCom’s enormous mansion – and if you do, you’ll have other issues to worry about. It’s a one-way union, too: how much emotional fulfillment can you get from Pink Batts and weatherboards? (If you know the answer, more power to you).
Just what is the 2016 definition of a housewife? Google reckons it’s ‘a married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework’. It’s also ‘a small case for needles, thread, and other small sewing items’. No wonder I’m confused. Perhaps Urban Dictionary will enlighten me.
With no other choice, I turn to the deep abyss where I find the answers to most big questions: American reality television. The Real Housewives is a reality franchise pandemic. No Trump Wall can confine its rampant global spread from Beverly Hills to Cheshire, Potomac (wth?) and – gird your loins – Auckland.
It follows the dramatic lives of a bunch of affluent women who probably don’t spend their days washing and folding towels. That’s all I need to hear. Where do I sign up?
So, I’m going in. I’ll live a day as a Real Housewife to seek all the answers. What exactly is a ‘real housewife’? Will a life of decadence and drama give me the emotional fulfilment that a wall of Pink Batts can’t? And where the hell is Potomac?
6.12 AM: Wake up as a Real Housewife
What an amazing start to the day! I already feel richer and more powerful.
6.13 AM: Create a catchphrase
Lie in bed contemplating a kick-arse phrase that defines my new status. Real Housewives say things like “my yacht may have sailed, but my ship’s still coming in,” or “I’m passionate about dogs, just not crazy about bitches”. See what they did there? It’s practically Shakespeare.
Who am I? Why am I here? It’s too bloody early for an existential crisis. “Drivers who don’t indicate piss me off” is too literal. “I may not fit my pants, but my pants still fit me” is not 100% true. I settle on “when life gives me lemons, I laugh until my pelvic floor collapses.”
6.27AM Prepare a healthy breakfast
I’m yet to see a Real Housewife eat anything other than champagne and lemon slices. I didn’t think this through. Who am I kidding I’M DRINKING WINE FOR BREAKFAST IT’S ALL MY WILDEST DREAMS COME TRUE.
7.35AM Hair and makeup
Real Housewife hair has more bounce than a dog on a trampoline. Their skin glows so brightly you must never look directly at it. They employ make-up artists and hair stylists; I have a three year old who’s progressed to drawing people with five arms.
Fair to say, she knocked it out of the bloody park.
8.55 AM Exercise without breaking a sweat
Those three glasses of Lindauer were a terrible idea. Is there a beginner level yoga pose where I can lie on the floor and still find my chakra? Blue Singlet Woman knows what I’m talking about.
I feel my lymphs draining as we speak.
10.45AM Get myself an unusual pet
Lisa Vanderpump of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has a swan for a pet. A SWAN. When I was eight I was attacked by a feral bitch of a swan who leapt out of a pond and yanked at my skirt until I screamed tears of pure terror.
Even now I break into a sweat whenever I see one of those aquatic monsters. But I’m Real Housewife committed. I will get me a swan, even if it gets me arrested.
12:35PM Engage in some meaningful employment
Stick this in your sewing kit, Google: Real Housewives have careers. They’re surgeons, actors, philanthropists and businesswomen. They rehearse lines while they ride an exercycle, they close a deal over cocktails, they ride the endorphin high that four breast augmentations in one day gives.
I spend two hours writing about being a Real Housewife while trying to be a Real Housewife while drinking two more glasses of Lindauer. Bottoms up.
2.50PM Sail to my Tuscan villa for a mini-break
I’m officially out of Lindauer. How can I housewife in such primitive conditions? I deserve a luxurious junket to forget my troubles and indulge in some minor product placement.
When in Potomac…
4.45PM Create some drama
Telling my kid she can’t watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood – aka the animated devil – is guaranteed to create Real Housewives level drama. “I say this as someone who loves you,” I begin, just like a Real Housewife would. “But you’ve already watched television this year, and you know we have a one-viewing-per-annum rule in this household. Play with your pile of 100% organically certified twigs and leaves instead.”
She stares at me, dumbfounded. I encourage her to throw a glass of water in my face, Real Housewives style, but she refuses. Hold the flaming botox – is my Real Housewife crusade actually creating a state of domestic harmony?
5.00PM Real Housewife clocks off
I’m leaving the office before the traffic gets bad. My refreshing dip into the bubbling hot tub of Real Housewives is over, having provided me with a bounty of unexpected gifts: I found my chakra, drank more cheap bubbles than New Years Eve 2008, and went swan-hunting. My pelvic floor survived. Forget the Real Housewives, I feel like Indiana bloody Jones.
Did I find the answers to my questions? Not entirely sure, but I can’t stop. There are towels to fold and a swan in the backyard that needs feeding.
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