State of the Housewives

In which I soothe myself to the white noise of the Miami Housewives.

Another newsletter, another reminder that I am struggling with a temporary attention deficit brought on by… (and here I am gesturing wildly again). I have mostly managed to stay on top of my Bravo shows, for better or worse. (By better, I mean Real Housewives of New York. By worse, I mean Vanderpump Rules.) I don’t feel like I have anything all that insightful to say, but since this is, on occasion, a Housewives-centric newsletter, and because I’m trying not to neglect my readers for two consecutive weeks, I figured I’d do a little State of the Housewives with some scattered thoughts on the current seasons. If you’re not a Bravo person, good news, you can go ahead and delete this email now!

The Real Housewives of New York City

Leah McSweeney. Leah McSweeney! There has not been a better new Housewife in — I couldn’t even tell you. I mean, it’s almost impossible to add to the casts anymore, because anyone who wants to be a Housewife at this point is likely severely broken in an unfun way. Which, you know, is maybe the case with Leah, whose politics are muddled, at best, and who decided to start drinking again after years of sobriety — which is totally her choice, to be clear! — and then lost her shit so thoroughly at Ramona’s Hamptons home that it looked like footage from an over-the-top anti-drinking PSA. When she threw those tiki torches, though, I cheered. When she screamed “fuck J.P. Morgan,” I felt alive.

In many ways, I feel like Leah is who everyone wants Erika Jayne to be: the fun, no-nonsense, not-so-prim-and-proper new Housewife who shows up and wreaks havoc. Erika has always been more controlled than that, though, which is why watching Leah’s descent into madness was such a delight. RHONY as a whole feels looser than it has in years, and yes, I’m willing to acknowledge that might have something to do with Bethenny’s absence. I love Bethenny, but maybe she did keep things a little too restrained, if only because the women were afraid to get that sloppy around her. This doesn’t account for huge chunks of the most recent seasons, but it’s the only real explanation I have. Well, that, and Leah is a chaos agent, bless her heart.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

I feel bad for Garcelle Beauvais, who is a refreshing addition to this series and already pushing the show in the right direction, but who can’t possibly compete for “Best New Housewife” when Leah is around. This show also feels looser, and that, I think, we can definitely pin on Lisa Vanderpump — or rather, the lack thereof. More than Bethenny, LVP held the reigns in ways I don’t think Bravo ever really wanted to acknowledge, and the show is better off without her, even if the Beverly Hills cast can’t possibly compete with the New York ladies. I mean, it’s telling that they started their season at New York Fashion Week, of all places. They know.

But I am excited about this season, despite the fact that getting excited about RHOBH is almost always a recipe for disappointment! PuppyGate is dead and gone, and we are finally pivoting to Denise Richards. I love Denise. Loved her last season, love her contributions to the culture, namely the holy triumvirate of Drop Dead Gorgeous, Wild Things, and Starship Troopers. But something weird is going on with her and her husband, and I feel like their bizarre dinner party behavior was just the tip of the iceberg. I mean. I know it’s just the tip of the iceberg, because I watched the promo for the season. Yes, I am thrilled about a Housewives show finally allowing the Sapphic subtext to become text, but mostly I am thrilled to hear Denise’s hung husband explain cancer to a very stoned Mauricio. The brain worms are alive and well on RHOBH! For all of that, I will put up with Sutton Stracke, who is Dana Wilkey by way of Southern Charm. No, thanks!

The Real Housewives of Miami

Listen. Some people are using their social distancing time to catch up on prestige shows they missed like Succession and Breaking Bad. I am using my social distancing time to finally watch The Real Housewives of Miami (and D.C., but I’m not there yet). This is not a great show. It is far from top-tier Housewives. But then, most top-tier Housewives series have ceased being top-tier at this point, so really, we should probably be a little kinder to RHOM. I’m on Season 2 now, and there’s certainly more drama than there was at the start. It still feels slighter than modern-day Housewives, but I wouldn’t say I mind that.

If anything, I appreciate RHOM for its simpler aims. Everything feels smaller and more contained. Fighting about who said what in the tabloids and who showed up to which charity event without paying? That shit seems quaint to me. And yes, I say this as the show is heating up, and Adriana just punched Joanna in the face, but honestly, there’s something really comforting to me about the Housewives of yesteryear. It’s white noise, essentially. Nothing groundbreaking. Certainly nothing requiring my full attention. As far as ways to pass the time, though, one could do much worse. And the perpetually smiling Karent Sierra is absolutely terrifying.

Photo via Bravo.