November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
As you may know, I indulge in Andy Cohen’s extremely addictive “The Real Housewives Of” franchise on Bravo.* I avoid Orange Country, Miami and D.C. (or as I like to think of them: “Spray Tans”, “Huh?” and “Bor-ING!”), and am fading fast on New York. (Though I did meet The Countess at pilates once. She was nice.) I can not, however, miss an episode of New Jersey, Beverly Hills and Atlanta. The wine rooms! The fillers! The fights!! Oh, my.
The situations and characters may seem beyond vulgar and truly vapid, but a closer look at each jewel of an episode reveals a formula that not only brings in viewers, but also reiterates certain themes that may contain a Deeper Meaning. If I were a college student at say Brown or somewhere of its ilk, I am confident that I could find one hell of a paper in this show. And I would call it “The Tao of Housewives”**, since really, the whole endeavor is a modern day dramatization of Taoism in its simplest — yet most sparkly — form.
Let us begin with an abridged Wikipedia definition of “Tao”:
“…a philisophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao (道), which is the mechanism of everything that exists. The word “Tao” …is usually translated as “way”, “path” or “principle”…Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation and humility…Harmony with the Universe, or the source thereof (Tao), is the intended result of many Taoist rules and practices…”
Read that again. And then, if you are a TRHO viewer, read it with the Housewives in mind and pretend you are a liberal arts college student. See where I am going with this??
For those of you who have never seen an episode, bless your hearts, let me break it down for you:
Harmony with the Universe
In any given city, a Housewife’s Universe is her Social Circle. All relentlessly proclaim to want “No Drama!” in the circle. They want to get along and have good, supportive relationships with their friends***, but events as manufactured by Bravo very often make this challenging for our girls. Which is too bad, because all they really want is Harmony — No Drama!! –in their Universe. A very Taoist ambition.
How to Violate the Three Jewels of the Tao
Alas, there it is. Always.
Drama usually ensues because one or more of the Housewives have lost their way, by lacking compassion, moderation or humility, or some combination thereof. The Three Jewels and therefore, Harmony, are most at risk when a Housewife is faced with some odd social challenge that highlights to the others how far off the path she has fallen — or has yet to reach. (It is a journey, you see.) I will discuss them individually, but I am sure you can see how we can have multiple Jewel Violations in any given scenario.
Compassion or “Why aren’t you supporting me!?”
Housewives lack compassion when they refuse to support (a popular word with the Housewives) another housewife, especially by not attending Their Event****. They also fall into this trap when they fail to know the basic facts about another housewife’s situation because they are totally out of the loop, or just totally out of it. Like the law, ignorance is not a defense in the TRHO Universe. (See especially: New York, New Jersey and even Beverly Hills; all seasons.)
Moderation and “That was going too far”
Aside from financial foibles, lavish lifestyles and possible public drunkenness, Housewives lack moderation when they can not help themselves and say or do something that Crosses the Line. This can involve saying something unkind about another housewife’s children, how she keeps her home, how creepy her husband is, or how stupid Their Event is at said Event. Calling the gossip magazines is also a major offense to moderation. Each season, some Housewife appears to be deliberately running from moderation. I think they call this “The B**** Edit”. (See all seasons, any city. They pick one Housewife and go to town. All she has in the form of defense is the contractual blog and the Reunion to try to explain what on earth happened.)
Humility, a.k.a. “You did it — just own it!!”
This is a funny one in the TROH Universe. Some Housewives are very “honest” about themselves and their horrid behavior, and are more than happy to apologize to another Housewife in an empty restaurant at some random time of day. Often, it is all ok for a little while, until it isn’t. Regardless, there are others who fall into the “Deny! Deny! Deny!” category when they have clearly been naughty. (This is often shown in black and white flashback footage during an uncomfortable Sit Down, just to prove the point.) Needless to say, since we’ve all seen it, this tactic does not play well with viewers. Or the other Housewives. Often times the Housewife who does not express humility during the Sit Down later decides to “Own It”. In TRHO Universe, “Owning It” or “Just Being Who I Am” are not necessarily humble acts. It really just depends, like so much in life. (See especially New York and New Jersey, seasons 2+)
Ultimately, Taoists hope to reach the state of Nirvana. According to Wikipedia, “the word literally means “blowing out”—referring in the Buddhist context, to the blowing out of the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion.”
Hmmm. Can the Housewives ever reach this state? Are they even meant to? Are we? I don’t know.
I do know this, though: There are times when I see the cast members on these shows behaving like real human beings. (I swear!!) Truly comforting someone when they are going through something nasty, being genuinely sad about a relationship that has gone supernova, or just having fun with each other in this silly ride they’ve all taken. It is very rare, but if you look for it, you will see it. And how could the camera not capture some of these moments: these ladies are not actresses, and falling out of character is just about the most “real” thing they inadvertently do on the show. That, and provide me with a rather endless flow of entertainment. I am not saying “watch it”, but I won’t think less of you if you do…
* I also watch PBS and a LOT of documentaries…and I read The New Yorker. So I think that evens things out.
** No disrespect to Taoism. It all just fits in my mind somehow.
*** Friends means “Castmates” in this context. Maybe they knew each other before the show, but there is no way any of these women started out or remain friends as you and I would define it.
**** “Events” are what you and I might know of as parties and other celebrations. Housewife Events frequently have a “Step and Repeat” that appears to be a backdrop covered in sponsor names that attendees have their photos taken in front of. Like prom, but with logos. I have had one “Step and Repeat” in my life. It was for work and I have no desire to do it again. I suppose I am just not Housewife Material.
Again, I am not recommending that you to watch it, but, if you want to, episodes are available on iTunes and at Bravotv.com.
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
November 25, 2011 § 1 Comment
Ahhh…the holiday dishes aren’t even put away and my inbox is full of messages of Good Sale Tidings. Just a few notes on shopping these sales, especially when things are so tempting:
1) Only buy it if you would have at full price.
2) Only buy it if the life you live matches the thing you are buying. (When was the last time you really needed a new cocktail dress? Or glitter napkin rings?)
3) Only buy it if you really don’t have something just like it in perfectly good condition. (Exceptions can be made if we are talking about a garment that has a different cut and/or is made of a different fabric.)
November 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
In truth, as bad as things may sometimes seem, I am sure we all have something — hopefully many things — to be thankful for right now. Health, love, friendship and comfort spring to mind. So does finding a free parking spot and a truly flavorful bagel. (In all seriousness, Nora Ephron is right: bagels just don’t taste as good as they used to.)
There is also something to be said for being thankful for many of the experiences in your life that may have seemed Not-So-Important or maybe even a Bit-of-a-Drag when you were actually experiencing it, but leave you with oddly good memories later.
Business school comes to mind for me. While I loved lots of what I was studying, doing it and working full time and trying to have a life was not a breeze. This was made a touch more excruciating by the classes that I just could not latch onto. My main memories of these classes was my mindlessly drawing Hand Turkeys before cutting out early, and then panicking about the final. (Don’t worry. It all turned out OK.)
It may seem silly now, but I am thankful for that experience. Not only because I proved to myself that I can pretty much finish whatever I start and then some, but also because it allowed me to send you this:
From me and my boring classes to you: May you have many, many things in your life for which you can be thankful. Enjoy the holiday and don’t forget to eat some stuffing!
(Photo of my 2011 Commemorative Thanksgiving Hand Turkey, pencil on notepaper, edition 1 of 1: Some Cozy Night)
November 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
I plan to be. As you may have heard, Mr. Tom Ford has a new cosmetics line out this month and I just had to have this polish:
It is called “Bitter Bitch” (Provocative, Tom Ford…same thing) and it is the next logical step for those of us who may want something a little more purple than the grays we’ve been wearing since last year — Chanel’s “Particuliere” is my favorite and I still intend to wear it — but not so dark as to make us look Kardashian. (That’s a little tired, no?)
Other loves of mine from all things Tom Ford include two of his fragrances, Black Violet and Champaca Absolute and one of the most beautiful movies made in the last few years: A Single Man.
Links should you need them:
And let me just add that Colin Firth was robbed of his Oscar that year. Robbed!! And I don’t care if he got it last year. So there you have it.
Hankies should you watch said Film
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
November 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether it is honest to only discuss things that seem “nice” about my life on this blog. True, I want it to be fun here, but I don’t want anyone to think that this is an attempt to whitewash anything. Bottom line: my life, like yours, contains big doses of stress, disappointment, constant questioning and general nuttiness. It also has its Better Moments, which I try to capture here. So there you have it, in case you didn’t know. (But I am pretty sure you did.)
Anyway, one thing that always feels like a Better Moment is doing something for others, human or not. So, here is a little information in order to help some creatures that need it:
If you have been to New York, I am sure you have seen the carriage horses around Central Park. If you take a good look at them, you will see in their faces that they are not living a “very lovely life”. (To quote the vet about the “roof chickens” in Sex and the City.) The ASPCA and NYCLASS are trying to change that. If you are interested in learning more, check this out:
November 10, 2011 § 1 Comment
Miss Fiona Apple’s last record with the above title is one of my all-time favorites. I am humming it to myself right now as I type. And honestly, I think it is about time for another album from her. Six years is long enough, no?
In the meantime, another Extraordinary Machine has come into my life:
No, it isn’t a Space Age Hole Punch, as I first guessed when I found it in my office the other day. (A gift from Mr. H — he gets me.) It is a vintage letter opener from Pitney Bowes. And it is the best thing to happen to my office in forever. Except for a few pieces of furniture and this lovely mirror I recently picked up…but you catch my drift.
It basically slices off the top part of any envelope, eliminating the need to use my horrid knife-style letter opener that I struggle with daily. Finally, I look forward to opening the mail!
(Photo: Some Cozy Night)
November 8, 2011 § Leave a comment
A few opinion reversals for the day:
1) Moda Operandi isn’t that great after all. (See “Have I mentioned” and then forget about it.) The MBA in me says that the model isn’t very sustainable, since you always need “new” trunk shows and let’s face it: there are only so many seasons — and desirable designers — in a year. And, THEY ALL SHOW AT THE SAME TIME. There is also a taste level that seems to be quickly disappearing and the idea of having to wait for a few more months before I can use up a credit on something that I returned is kind of a bummer. Also, their operations are a little “eh”. Stick with Net-a-Porter.
2) I am warming up to the Middleton Hosiery Principal. I think we are going to start seeing more and more covered legs and it might not be the worst thing in the world. I plan to start with sheer dark ones…at least that is a nod to YSL in its heyday.
3) Dresses for day in Fall and Winter: I used to avoid, but am finding it to be not too impossible so far. More to come on this one.
And that is all I have this morning.