With Netflix being our entertainment for the evening, my friend Arzum and I were in the mood to watch something random. Mindlessly scrolling through the catalogue, we came across The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and decided to give it a go. Until that point, we were avid spectators of competition reality TV shows like Top Chef and RuPaul’s Drag Race. However, this was the first time that we attempted to watch a show where camera crews follow real people living their lives. With that, my RHOBH journey began.
Who are the Housewives?
To kickstart the show, the housewives are introduced: Lisa Vanderpump, Adrienne Maloof, Camille Grammer, Taylor Armstrong, Kim Richards and Kyle Richards. In the later seasons, some housewives leave the show, and newcomers like Yolanda Hadid and Brandi Glanville take their place and welcome us into their lives. Somehow, all of these housewives are connected one way or another, through the people in town.
In the first episode, Adrienne takes the girls on a private jet to go see the Sacramento Kings play, which her family owns. Throughout the following episodes and seasons, we get a sneak peek into the extravagant lives of the housewives of Beverly Hills. Private jets, limos, rotating nannies, spontaneous trips, lavish food, and walk-in closets the size of my Amsterdam apartment are just a few of the appealing aspects of the show. The main entertainment here (for me, anyway) is the drama. Even from the first episode, underlying drama brews, but it is nothing compared to what is yet to come.
However, the drama is quite always set up in a similar manner. There is always a nice event that mostly ends with a misunderstanding, with someone crying and people yelling. Even though it feels like some situations are deliberately heightened by the producers, the housewives all have colorful personalities and clashing opinions – which add to the juiciness of the drama. With someone calling someone ‘a fat pig’ out of nowhere during a dinner party, to a psychic telling one of the housewives that she knows when she will die, the show’s drama remains astounding.
On top of the money, luxury and the drama, there is also another potential reason why this show is so immersive. This is the ‘celebrity appeal’ of the housewives, which I think is only prominent in the Beverly Hills spin-off of the franchise. The housewives of Beverly Hills are established in Hollywood, which makes it so much more interesting to watch. For instance, Kim and Kyle Richards grew up as child actors and are aunts of Paris and Nicky Hilton. Kyle has a friend called Faye Resnick, which is famous for her involvement in the O.J Simpson murder trials. Kyle also introduces Marisa Zanuck, married to movie producer Dean Zanuck (whose grandfather founded 20th Century Fox). Another housewife, Camille Grammer, at the time of filming, was married to Frasier star Kelsey Grammer. Similarly, Yolanda Hadid, which joined the cast in season 3, is the mother of models Gigi, Bella and Anwar Hadid, and was (at the time of filming) married to legendary musician David Foster. Needless to say, these women, and the people that are within their circles, are people we have heard of somehow.
These topics that are integrated and discussed in the show make us see that behind all that glamorous surface, their lives are just as messy as ours are.
Although most of their lives seem unrelatable to the viewers (which is kind of the point), and the arguments feel unnecessary and petty, some aspects make the audience feel closer to housewives. Regardless of their glam, money and fame, they too deal with real issues like divorce, bankruptcy, infidelity, abuse, disease or addiction. These topics that are integrated and discussed in the show make us see that behind all that glamorous surface, their lives are just as messy as ours are. They are real human beings and not just characters in a show.
Another aspect of realness is the relationships that these women have with each other. With some women’s relationships evolving from strangers to best friends, some go from best friends to frenemies in an instant. The power dynamics change constantly throughout the show, with accusations being thrown, and lawsuits being threatened.
As the crown jewel of The Real Housewives franchise, watching 4 seasons of RHOBH taught me how to see things from other people’s perspectives. It does a great job at showing how two people can experience the same situation differently, and how so much can get lost in translation. Moreover, it proves once again that miscommunication is the main cause of arguments and how it can also be prevented.
I knew why this show was appealing to me, but I was curious to see why people kept watching more of RHOBH. So, I reached out to a few of my friends who I know watches the show too. Sian and Nicole both said that they started watching it thanks to suggestions from friends (one of those friends might have been me), while Veni said she started watching it because she generally loves this type of reality TV. I asked why they were intrigued by the show, and I got a variety of responses: Veni stated that she liked seeing how extreme their lives are, while Sian said that, on top of the lux life, she kept coming back for the drama as her empathetic side hopes that these women will mend their relationships. On the other hand, Nicole said she was attracted to the chaos, the characters’ relationships, the lavishness and the never-ending drama.
It appears as the gratifications we receive from watching the hit show are quite similar, and the drama is one of them. As final remarks, Sian said she found herself a bit too argumentative after binging the show, which could be a toxic side-effect of binging RHOBH, while Veni confessed to feeling a bit stressed out after watching a lot, as their arguments are ‘just too much sometimes’. She also said she felt blessed that her life is so calm in comparison. Although I love the show and feel like it is easy entertainment, apparently, a RHOBH binge can also be very draining. Proceed with caution.
Cover by: David Vives
Edited by: Debby Mogot