This is Auckland, where new money meets old. Alex Casey is going to try and laugh at The Real Housewives of Auckland through her weekly power rankings – because if we can’t laugh then all we have is the void.
The first episode of The Real Housewives of Auckland left me reeling in shock, clinging to the heater as a totem of reality in the lounge of my damp, cold, Auckland rental. There’s no denying that the ostentatious display of wealth, chandeliers and champagne might not be the image New Zealand needs right now. If The Bachelor was poking a thorny rose at gender equality, Real Housewives is driving a Rolls Royce at full speed through the class divide in this country.
Much like the koi carp the size of a Scottish terrier I saw on the weekend, I was both disgusted and amazed to be in the presence of something so beastly and magnificent. These women are, like, use-Kate-Sheppards-as-a-napkin wealthy. But this might be the best television we’ll see this year, with the first episode alone delivering the level of drama that most other New Zealand reality franchises would tease over the course of a season.
For more serious consideration of the show, read Duncan Greive’s review, but for now let’s all dive in grinning manically like Angela to stop ourselves all from crying.
1) THE CHAMPAGNE LADY
I’ll be honest, the real reason I don’t feel bad about ranking these women every week is that I foresee Anne being in the top spot for the rest of eternity. Self-described as the ‘Champagne Lady’, Anne is like a character from an early script of Midnight in Paris, an etiquette-obsessed woman from a different world whose only anchor to our terrestrial realm is this motivational canvas in her doorway regarding cats:
Anne reckons that champagne is “the only thing a woman can drink and still be beautiful”, which suggests to me that she has never smashed a litre of raspberry Big Foot at the Mount Albert train station. Here’s her trying to count how many fiancés she has had:
Thankfully she can remember her current beau, a friendly chap who operates under the moniker of “Cuddly Bear”. Anne and Cuddly Bear spend most nights with the windows and doors of their Parnell mansion open, boogying amongst their enormous cacti collection to loud pop music. Seems dope.
By day, Anne tends to her ‘pussy palace’, a term we are all going to have to get very used to because it’s totally fine and has no double meaning and she definitely hasn’t been asked to say it at least twice a minute. I feel quite confident that this cat assistant woman stays locked in the pussy palace 24/7.
Anne has a laugh like a munchkin on NOS, and uses it to punctuate some truly dicey revelations. “It’s not Asian is it?” she cackled in the back of the limo on the way to lunch, my jaw only further dropping as she giggled through a disturbing tidbit getting about hormone replacement therapy for the rest of her life. “I have no intention to go through menopause,” she LOLs.
2) Gilda Kirkpatrick
Gilda is the “Persian Princess of Auckland”, an author, marketing company owner and – in a Spinoff exclusive – a massive fan of the New Yorker Snap Chat. She lives in the wedding cake house on Paratai drive with her two young children and 900 chandeliers. I got mild Shining vibes if I’m honest:
PS: Know how you know someone’s rich? When their children’s TEDDY BEARS wear Burberry.
Despite her exuberant wealth and clean-looking hair putting more distance between us than The Queen of England and one of those caps that says “Shit Happens” with a fake turd on it, I actually relate to Gilda the most. She feels like she might be the audience’s eyes and ears in this messed-up world, a keen observer of drama with some of the best reaction faces in the game.
3) Louise Wallace
Louise: “I made my money the old fashioned way – I inherited it”
Me: “I make my money the old fashioned way – I drag my body screaming every day to work like that bit in Kill Bill where her legs are dead but she still has to get down the hospital aisle somehow. Also I have no money.”
“People think I’m that old bitch,” said Louise, stony-faced in her intro video. Born straight into a big ol’ pile of cash like a mini Scrooge McDuck, you may remember her as the po-faced matriarch of The Weakest Link, or more recently the founder of Auckland’s Tadpole theatre company. Interestingly, just like a tadpole, Louise needs all the help around the house she can get.
Not only does Louise have a pool boy, she also has a woman who irons her Chux cloths, her husband Scotty to help her pick out her outfits, and a woman whose main job seems to be wearing a vest and gesturing at herbs:
Basically, Louise has it all. She’s straight up, calls a spade a spade, a person a sail, and the same person a big unit (pray for Angela). She also gives great, not slut-shamey-at-all advice to her own children.
4) Angela Stone
Angela is our style guru and airborne leaf lover, who believes that “you are what you wear”. If that’s true, call me a good old fashioned stained dressing down and thick pair of hiking socks. She does some modelling, an admission which would set the first episode on absolute fire and then douse it with tears.
I still haven’t managed to find her Tourism NZ campaign, but I’ll tell you what this shoot for a mysterious product called Beauty Dust reminded me of…
We know Angela is a fashion expert because she dispensed advice during the TK fashion show with the aplomb of Christine and her herbs. A wide pant is in, if you have long legs. A high neck is out, if you have big boobs. A white shirt and black pants is a must-have. Tunics and sparkly jandals are big in Auckland apparently, which should cause a big spike in sales for that fancy pull-out part of the Ezibuy catalogue.
Angela wants to be the Oprah Winfrey of New Zealand, and was off to a great start by giving everyone a free copy of her very own book. Rich people love free stuff, right?!
Despite one set of tears, she held it eerily together after Michelle called her out for being a plus-size model, which would be enough to send any mortal straight into the nearest forest to live in a cave forever and eat only one teaspoon of Beauty Dust a day. Still don’t want to think about that pained smile too much, mind you.
5) Michelle Blanchard
Michelle is the true blue Housewife of Real Housewives, but I have to put her near the bottom because she’s terrifying and she told me what to eat and it made me feel bad about myself and this is my way of taking the power back in the only way I know how. An ex-model, she spends her time pottering around her property, being scared of her horses and trying on shoes next to carefully placed Dior bags.
This looks a lot like my closet actually, if you swap out the heels for Crocs and the Dior bag for a layer of mould on the wall that has to periodically be wiped whilst you try not inhale. Potato potahto.
Talking of carbs, I was lucky enough to have lunch with Michelle last week. She gave me this advice: while you are young, stop eating bread and stop eating rice. There’s no doubt she is the most viciously truthful of the lot, be it going her in on Angela about being a plus size model or telling me that I need to start having weekly colonics after I biffed a half loaf of bread down my gullet like a pelican.
6) Julia Sloane
Julia Sloane’s life is filled with appointments. Botox, manicure, pedicures, waxing and art buying take up so much of her time, she even needs her own hair stylist to come over and faff with her mane. Things nearly turned south when he mentioned that she might need fillers…
Julia’s husband must be a squillionare, because he seems to have bought his way out of talking to a woman like a decent human being. “I pay for the pants and I get into the pants,” he reminded Julia on a romantic walk through their vineyard, as I crossed my fingers that he was definitely just describing your basic pant-wearing scenario and not some kind of sexual favour pyramid scheme from purest vineyard hell.
“I know how to keep my man happy,” she grinned wonkily, the camera shutting off before she blinked slowly to mouth the phrase ‘help me’. At least her husband didn’t pay his way into her lavish birthday lunch, but unfortunately all the other women stole the show from her very special day. Pray for Julia for tomorrow guys.
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