Sunday, May 3, 2009

When I see Bethenny, I come from a place of "yes"

I am not ashamed to say that I am hooked like a crack whore on The Real Housewives. I have gone as far as taking cabs home from teaching so as not to miss an episode.

Although all of them, O.C., Atlanta, and New York fall under my addiction category, there is nothing quite like New York, because that is a city I know well and this of course adds to my enjoyment. By now, everyone knows that within the faux real reality TV category of edited series this show is particularly staged and artificial. In all of the locations the alleged wealth of the participants has been largely revealed to be a fraud. Let's say that these women are more aspiring to, to be kind. None of them appear to be particularly bright or self-aware.

Until that is, I saw Bethenny. I have to be frank (unintended ironic pun on her last name, Frankel). This is where I fell for the manipulation completely, relinquishing most of my detached and sarcastic amusement, to hear myself saying "I could totally see myself hanging out with her." Although I do find her alarmingly thin, and cannot quite figure out either why she is a serial reality TV personality given how intelligent she appears to be, or why she would be "friends" (frenemies) with this particular demographic slice of New York City womanhood (the series could be viewed as an update of the camp 1930s classic "The Women"), I still find her largely appealing in most ways.

First is her wit, her quick-witted one-liners and manic barrage of analysis, mimicry, and tough-girl retorts leave me in tears of laughter. A particularly fabulous one-liner that did not make it into the compilation video posted here (which, be warned, if you don't watch the show is largely useless in conveying why I like the character played by this woman, which in some way I believe to be relatively sincere) took place when during a planning meeting for a charity, dysfunctional ex-model, diva, cougar batterer of younger boyfriends, and apparently on some memory-impairing meds, Kelly Bensimon refused to lend her name to the event. Bethenny exclaimed: We are different, Kelly. You come from a place of "no" and I come from a place of "yes." I kid you not, for some reason that resonated with me, more than just ironically. But the really fabulous things about Bethenny besides her viper's toungue, that is, are:

she owns her own business
she refuses to make her life revolve around a man
she mocks the other women's pretense (however, if so, why does she hang out with them?)
despite her obvious insecurity manages to defend herself
although this could be in the interests of manipulating viewers (like me) I empathize with her fleeting mentions of the impact of her dysfunctional family life
she apologizes when she misjudges someone
her comic timing is awesome

Best of all, she lets us know that she is in on the joke, acting as an on and off camera meta-commentator or performer.