Last spring everywhere I went I was stalked, not by a crazed fan of my minimally published fiction or an overzealous six-year-old with my hair and eyes, dirty hands outstretched demanding to be picked up, but by a single image. Five women, perfectly primped and coiffed, designer clad stereotypes of womanly perfection: The Real Housewives of New Jersey
While I’m not a fan of the ubiquitous reality television series, or television in general for that matter, I have to admit, I was intrigued. I live less than ten miles away from Franklin Lakes, the home of most of the “Real Housewives.” In the weeks before the show’s premiere I had been informed through my high school’s alumni association that one of the cast members had gone to school with us. She was two years behind me and to this day I don’t remember her; of course that’s not saying much as I tend to forget more people with each passing year. I had even been to events at the Brownstone (it’s a pretty nice place as I recall).
So I watched.
I didn’t expect much. I figured that I would get to see some places that I knew. Pretty nuts when you consider that I could drive by any of these places any time I find myself with nothing better to do. But what I found was worse that I could have imagined: an hour-long exploration of the stereotypical New Jersey Italian American woman: self-absorbed, foul-mouthed, overly made up, cat-fighting, gossipy, over-indulgent media hounds, who seem to value neither decorum nor education.
I was shocked and a little offended. I have lived the better part of the past twenty-six years in New Jersey. I am a first generation American-born Italian from a family full of strong and courageous woman. And I have never once encountered women like these. Not to say that they don’t exist, but I’ve certainly never met them. And yet these are the “Real” housewives that New Jersey offers? I don’t think so.
As the show progressed I accepted that if these women were what Bravo and their viewers wanted to believe were “Real Housewives” in New Jersey than I would wholeheartedly embrace my role as The Un-real Housewife of New Jersey.
Thanks for reading and welcome to my blog on life, the Arts and being Italian American.