Unrealistic Reality TV

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The obsession with my newly found identity crisis led me to believe that the labels put on SAHM’s strictly came from the 50’s and 60’s Susie Homemaker persona; however, the eruption of shows like The Real Housewives of… (pick a city, any city) has 21st century housewifery represented as gossiping cats with faux fur who claw at each other at social events. This new 21st century housewife has no responsibilities except to keep a high social standing and the obligation to hold fundraisers for charity. Even though their benevolence could be viewed as noble, I can’t help but see it as just a trend in their world.  

Can you call yourself a housewife if you have no other responsibilities other than social calls and keeping up appearances? Anyone with a nanny and a housekeeper should be stripped of their housewife title. The producers of these shows should find a real housewife from Kentucky (the land of little opportunity) attempting to raise three kids while trying to make something of myself (I mean, herself) so that she can get out of an increasingly bad neighborhood. She should also be driving a car that has more french fries in it than McDonald’s.  These women who live in poverty and middle class are the “real” housewives of the nation. No wonder we, the real housewives outside of unrealistic reality TV, are suffering from an identity crisis. We are caught between the perfect Susie Homemaker persona and the could-you-bring-the-car-around fiction wife. When is reality TV about women going to show some reality? The only program that portrays truth is “Snapped.”  

This misrepresentation of today’s SAHM’s makes me twice as eager to rise above the labels and properly represent what we stand for. In the meantime, I will keep watching “The Real Housewives of New York” for research. Ok, I am a blogging contradictory – I’m addicted to the show that infuriates me but I am human and it is a train wreck that I can’t take my eyes off of and I am weak.  

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23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hott Mama
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 08:20:46

    And, you know what else doesn’t help us “real” SAHM (this one not from Kentucky… make that West Virginia)? Every time I leave Food Lion, all the magazines have pictures of fabulous movie star moms holding their babies all decked out in designer clothes and such. They look georgeous, make millions, AND raise children? I don’t think so!

    Although, I wouldn’t trade places with them for one of their millions… ever! Would you?

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Oct 04, 2010 @ 09:44:24

      Hott Mama,

      I know, those magazines are everywhere. The magazine covers are just as deceiving today as the were in the 50’s and 60’s. Those movie stars on the magazines have nannies, cooks, housekeepers and assistants not to mention someone to do their hair and makeup. Wouldn’t we all look fabulous if we had that much help? I would not trade them lives; however, I may take a million if they were giving it away.

      Reply

  2. Karyn Climans
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 08:35:10

    I personally think that shows like “Sex & The City” are an insult to most women. Good for you to set the record straight!

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Oct 04, 2010 @ 09:37:51

      Karyn,

      I think Sex and the City appeals to so many women because it is a fanatasy world (even for single girls). I think it allows for an escape from our daily lives which doesn’t allow for high fashion and friends that you can count on. But it is deceiving to the younger crowd who think that their adult life is going to consist of moving to New York and attending fashion shows – if only it was that easy.

      Reply

  3. Stacy Taylor
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 10:07:56

    “Anyone with a nanny and a housekeeper should be stripped of their housewife title”– Oh my! Love it. I completely agree! I stay at home part time, teaching online so that I can have my career and be at home with my youngest for awhile, but I work twice as hard to have that ability. People with “help” aren’t even on the same planet as us . . .

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Oct 04, 2010 @ 10:22:38

      Stacy,

      If you have a nanny and a housekeeper what is left to do? You can no longer call them housewives or stay-at-home mom’s, just women working their way toward a social growth spurt. Maybe I am just jealous and with good reason. lol.

      Reply

  4. Melanie
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 12:56:25

    Torie, couldn’t have said it better myself! It’s so true. We are the real housewives, the one’s who change the diapers, do the laundry, cook the meals and fix the boo boo’s. We manage our homes, while we stay in them. Those women just want to manage their husbands money right out of his wallet! Still, I, like you, can’t seem to take my eyes off of the mess! lol

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Oct 04, 2010 @ 21:45:31

      Melanie,

      It is a sickness. It becomes a quick a obsession that I hate and love to watch. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

    • Liesel
      Dec 14, 2010 @ 16:03:43

      When the series RHNY began airing immediately after my daily soap opera indulgence, I would hit the mute button and get back to business. One afternoon, before I could find the remote under three loads of unfolded laundry, I let the train wreck roll. While the spaghetti sauce boiled over in the kitchen onto my freshly mopped floor, I couldn’t tear myself away. Now, I’ve watched about 30 episodes.
      Someone had told me about the series, Atlanta, Orange County, New Jersey, New York a couple of years ago and swore it was “real”. If these women are in fact true to the portrayals, then I believe the series is frightening.
      Overall, the women are completely self-absorbed narcissists who cannot speak proper English, lack couth, manners and any remote resemblance to nurturing, caring and responsible homemakers.
      The obsession with cosmetic surgery, labels, materialism and over-indulgent drinking sends a disturbing message to younger viewers.
      The bottom line is “the bottom line”. People are watching. Advertisers are buying time. Commerce is being generated with typical disregard for societal impact. This is not new.
      Challenges faced each day by genuine homemakers and housewives may seem boring in comparison to the decision about which event planner to hire for the charity gala. But The Real Housewives of the Heartland , an ever-dwindling segment of American life do not merit attention from the series’ producers.
      Letting some things remain sacred is not necessarily a bad thing.
      “Real Housewives” is the equivalent of a trashy paperback you read, pulled from the musty shelves of a beach-house rental. Best suited for escapism or a long potty break.

      Reply

  5. Jennifer
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 13:07:10

    These shows totally irk me. I think I’ve maybe watched one of them one time. My BFF LOVES them and talks about them all the time. I just don’t get it. There is NOTHING realistic about that train wreck. If I’m going to watch fiction then I would rather spend my time with a good network show like Chuck or the Mentalist or… pretty much anything.

    Reply

  6. Hott Mama
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 13:38:28

    The Mentalist is the ONLY show I will stay up that late to watch! Love it! You’re right Jennifer… I also don’t care much for the Housewife shows and, believe it or not, I have not seen Sex in the City either.

    Reply

  7. Andrea
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 18:03:29

    I just posted a video of my kids dancing in my messy kitchen. Now that is reality TV.

    Reply

  8. Jonette
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 06:29:27

    I actually disagree with many of the comments. First, I think there’s a difference between a housewife and a SAHM. The show is Real Housewives of …, not Real SAHM. IMO it’s comparing apples to oranges. If the women on these shows portrayed themselves as SAHM, I’d have a serious problem with the them and the show’s title. However, they don’t.

    As w/all reality shows, it does speak to some part of our society. The reality is that there are many women whose lives are not dissimilar to the women in the series. While it may not be the reality for all, it is for some.

    Lastly, Sex and the City (the series not the movie), imo and the opinion of every single woman I know, is far more realistic than we’d like it to be. That’s why so many women identified with the show and at least one of the characters. Many of the storylines came directly from the lives of the female writers.

    Just my perspective.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Oct 08, 2010 @ 11:32:53

      Jonette,

      I believe that housewife and SAHM are interchangeable. There have been many times I have been referred to as a housewife in the “occupation” section of some paperwork. In the 50’s when women dedicated themselves to the home and family they were called housewives; the term SAHM develop after women no longer wanted to be referred to as a housewife. If they are two completely different entities what is the definition of housewife: a married woman without children who manages the home? What would be the point of her existence? Does the home need managed full time if there are no children invovled? Unless religion has influenced her decision to manage the home, why would any woman sit at home all day unless there were children invovled? Also, if a housewife manages a home and a SAHM manages the kids, does this mean a SAHM doesn’t clean house, do laundry or manage any aspect of the home? If the SAHM manages both the kids and the home then wouldn’t the terms be interchangeable?

      As for the reality shows, I doubt that many women in high society watch The Real Housewives. I would think that the show appeals to those who dream of being in their situation – a fantasy world for those of us trapped in a blue collar world. If the show only spoke to part of our society ( the wealthier part) it wouldn’t be as successful.

      Sex and the City ( movie and series) is my favorite thing to watch; however, I do not relate to any of the women. One of them is what I might have been if not married so young, the other is my alter ego. The storylines may have came from females but their perspective hardly represents all women in the nation. Saying that all women ( including single women) fit into the category of one of the characters just is not true. This again is a fantasy world for the majority of us. But there is nothing wrong with checking out of reality and jumping into other people’s lives for an hour. It actually gives me something to look forward to.
      I appreciate your perspective. Without opposition life is just boring.

      Reply

  9. Jonette
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 11:48:47

    I appreciate your perspective, as well. There’s certainly nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree. I do, however, want to point out that I didn’t say “all” women fit into any category. I also did not say that I believe members of high society watch the show. I merely pointed out that reality shows speak to a certain part of society, meaning whether scripted or somewhat genuine, people on reality shows are like other people in America. While being 16 and pregnant isn’t my reality, it is for some. While being a police officer isn’t my reality, it is for some. Staying home and finding joy in shopping, lunching and attending charity events might not be your reality, but it is the reality for some. Those are all premises of reality shows on tv btw.

    Reply

  10. Unplanned Cooking
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 16:40:23

    I don’t watch the show but I don’t think it represents most people with help/housekeepers. I think having help/housekeepers can be a good thing. Many of my friends have multiple children and husbands who work long hours. Help (part time) keeps them sane. Because I don’t think one person can raise three children; I believe it takes a village, and when you live far from family, you simply don’t have one. While I don’t have help, I do feel very fortunate to have a cleaner who comes 2xs per month. Does that make me less of a homemaker? Maybe. But it also makes me enjoy my life more.

    For myself, I find my identity crisis comes more from my inability to measure up to my own standards – that I have to be the perfect wife, housekeeper, mother, etc. Letting go of that and knowing when to ask for help has been freeing. I’ve never seen a man who feels they aren’t doing their job because they have a cleaner/baby sitter. So I wonder why I feel guilty doing the same.

    Reply

  11. Jen
    Oct 10, 2010 @ 09:59:32

    A few weekends ago, I was at my dad’s house and we got into a huge discussion about The “real” Housewives show. We agreed, social standing does not make a housewife. Do any of them get on their knees and scrub the inside of the bathtub? Why on earth they called in the Real Housewives is beyond me.
    Why do these women also appear on every magazine cover at the grocery store. They are known for fighting all the time. Yet people still read these articles.
    I am not a housewife yet, and if this is what the “real” ones as like. What would a woman who cooks, cleans, raises the kids be called. We are the normal housewives!

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Oct 10, 2010 @ 21:43:36

      Jen,

      I totally agree but apparently you can buy yourself the title of housewife and a tv show. They really need to change the name of this show. What were they thinking when they sat down to name this faux reality spectacle? You never see them cleaning, attending parent/teacher conferences or washing sheets after a stomach virus takes over the house. A matter of fact, you hardly ever see the kids at all. The actual difinition of a housewife is a married women who manages the home. They are not managing the home, just a social life – they are not housewives.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  12. Rachel---The Kooky Queen
    Oct 10, 2010 @ 11:30:28

    Oh man girl, you said it all!!! As I sit sicker than a dog in a messy office room that I don’t have the energy to clean because my boogery face already used all my energy cleaning the kitchen—yes! We are real housewives. Though I would give a kidney for a maid just for a DAY!!

    Reply

  13. Life with Kaishon
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 11:33:15

    I watched the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills last night and I felt sick.
    So much plastic surgery. OH MY GOODNESS. Is that for real? Who does that? Why on earth would you do that.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Oct 16, 2010 @ 14:08:35

      Life with Kaishon,

      I have not seen that one yet. I can only imagine what kind of “real life” they deal with. It is almost like a joke. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

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