By Jae-Ha Kim
The conceit of Bravo’s The Real Housewives franchise is to showcase women who make the fictional characters on ABC’s Desperate Housewives seem like amateurs. And in that sense, The Real Housewives of New Jersey is successful. The women certainly are colorful, but as interesting? No. Still, it’s easy to see why this series is popular. The women are pretty enough, plenty catty, and some are even downright diabolical. They’re kind of what Heidi from The Hills might grow up to become 10 or 15 years down the line. Every reality series has to have a villain, and the first season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey has one in brassy Danielle. While she may not stick her boogery finger in a jar of communal peanut butter (as did Puck on The Real World: San Francisco), Danielle is an instigator. Many of her alleged actions are chronicled in a book written by her ex-husband. Is she a drug addict? Was she a hooker in the past? Does she have a history of altercations with the police? (Her ex is a police officer.) The truth is less important than the way she–and the rest of the housewives–deal with the accusations on the show. There are histrionics, table turning, and plenty of “Oh no she didn’t” moments.
And that’s what makes this tacky series watchable. It’s almost difficult to believe that these women are real people, because they come across as such characters. Besides the aforementioned Danielle, the show features sisters Caroline and Dina, who are alpha gals of the series. Caroline says things like, “Before I like you, I don’t like you,” which is either really deep or paranoid, depending on your point of view. Their best friend Teresa is a serious stage mom and their low-key sister-in-law Jacqueline deals with life as best as she can, but she has a difficult time keeping her entitled daughter in line. But Jacqueline’s biggest fault–in the other gals’ eyes–is her friendship with Danielle. Amid all this drama, there is hope. Danielle’s daughter Christine is wise beyond her years. She sees not only through her mother’s odd exploits, but also through the tough words that the other housewives spit out. It’s time for this girl to get her own series.