In 2006, my mother flipped to Bravo, a station nobody at the time knew or cared about very much, because a new show was on. It was the Real Housewives of Orange County, which she heard through some church friends was good because it showed good and honest Christian women praising the lord, raising children, and being rich. I’m thinking about that innocuous description today, as the franchise officially turns 15.
I was reminded of the momentous occasion on Instagram, via head honcho Andy Cohen, who wrote: “When I posed for this picture a week later, I had no idea the series would change the course of pop culture - and my life - forever.” A tad self indulgent, but I bet the man thinks he’s earned it. Let’s give him this, at least.
He also noted that it was absolutely the Real Housewives that turned his hair gray. That, or he’s in his 50s. I’m more enamored with this view from his office, somewhere in New York City, with a shelf full of CDs behind him. CDs! Do they even sell those anymore? This must be an old picture.
What’s ironic about the proclamations of my mother’s church friend’s was ultimately how wrong they were in their initial read of the show. While the original incarnation of Real Housewives of Orange County centered white Christian women in gated communities with terribly behaved children and cheating husbands, soon the show morphed into something else entirely. On RHOC, the women would soon find themselves bogged down by the other woes of everyday life: fake cancer scandals, predatory scammers, dead sugar daddies, prison, a recession, lots of racism, MAGA, homophobia, mother-in-laws, and vow renewals.
As the years passed, the extended Real Housewives universe brought fake kidnapping scandals, more prison, deportation, more MAGA, a jilted ex-countess, billionaires, wannabe pop stars, White House break-ins, plenty of physical altercations, ripped off wigs, foreclosed homes, dozens of divorces, gay husbands, toaster ovens, and fit tea sponsorships.
A few seasons in, my mother quit turning to it after Super Nanny and Extreme Home Makeover, because she didn’t want to “stuff our heads with crap.” Thankfully, I had no use for Jesus, and hell didn’t seem so bad, so I would DVR its many sinful spin-offs in secret.
Thanks for the memories, Andy!