Since 2006, and the premiere of The Real Housewives of Orange County, the franchise has slowly grown into an international juggernaut, with instalments in France, Greece, the UK, Canada, and Australia. Now New Zealand is getting in on the act as we meet The Real Housewives of Auckland.
The show begins with us meeting the cast of six women, who all seem to come with a tagline, like some really crap toy dolls. There’s Louise: “I made my money the old-fashioned way: I inherited it”, Gilda: “I never start a fight I can’t win”, Julia: “If people are talking behind your back, then you’re the one in front”, Angela: “My name may be stone, but everything I touch turns to gold”, Michelle: “I used to strut my stuff on the catwalk. Now, I’m a model housewife”, and Anne: “I’m like a fine champagne. I bubble, I fizz, and I’m the life of the party,”
Already, watching this feels like a chore as we learn a little bit more about each of them, intertwined with some god-awful lamb-related banter. Louise used to present The Weakest Link and Anne refers to herself as “The Dame of Champagne” – she seems more like a Queen of Cava but whatever keeps her happy.
The episode bumbles along for far too long as it tries to encourage us to feel some form of connection or empathy with the ladies. This is made difficult when none of them seem particularly likeable in the first place and often talk about how much they love to drop thousands of dollars on a dress or some art – oh woe is you that you already have a painting similar to that in your bathroom.
After a few minor scuffles and some increasingly bitchy comments, which, let’s be honest, are the only good thing about this kind of show, we reach what appears to the climactic scene of the episode. Julia has invited the girls out to her birthday lunch despite seemingly hating half of them in the previous scene. All is fine until Gilda and Michelle begin to get a bit frosty towards Angela.
“Oh you’re still a model? Plus size?” enquires Michelle sassily, leading to waterworks from Angela and awkward looks around the table from everyone else.
Despite smoothing things over, we see next week that this was just the beginning of the feuding. It should intrigue and make me want to watch more, but it just doesn’t. Scripted reality has had its time in the sun, but it’s getting old very quickly. If I wanted to watch some randoms bitch at each other, I’d go to outside Potterrow on a Saturday night as people try to scrounge lighters off one another. That’s entertainment. This isn’t.