Skip to main content
marsha lederman

The world is full of mysteries – some of its secrets impossible to comprehend, lying hidden in deep caverns, never to be revealed.

For instance, how is one to wrap one's head around the continued interest in and expansion of a show about rich women who are consumed with consumption – dining out, guzzling the bubbly, hitting the spa and shopping (and arguing) like champs?

How, in fact, is it possible that The Real Housewives of Anywhere even exists?

The success of the franchise defies comprehension – or at least reaches well beyond the limits of my own cognitive abilities. I simply do not understand.

What I do know is that somehow this vapid, staged, offensive catfight, which had a couple of seasons of life in Vancouver, has somehow lived to see another Cancon day and is now moving east to Toronto.

"The Real Housewives franchise is back with a facelift!" begins the exciting promotional paragraph on the Corus Entertainment website. Corus announced this week that Real Housewives of Toronto will premiere on its Slice network next winter, promising "six glamorous, larger-than-life housewives" and "an intimate look at the luxurious lives of the city's wealthiest women from their extravagant day-to-day escapades in Toronto to grandiose getaways to their exclusive colossal cottages in Muskoka – Canada's playground for the rich and famous."

Oh, but wait for it, viewers. Here comes the tension: "But not all that glitters is gold as these women reveal details about their relationships, family drama, including the highs and lows of living large in the big city."

My heart sank as I read this – for humanity, yes, but also for any Toronto counterparts who may now be obligated to watch the program in a professional capacity, as I did several years ago, suffering through Jody Claman's hate-on for former beauty queen/delusional pop star (Claman's phrasing) Mary Zilba; Ronnie Negus's season one love affair with the bottle – and the wine label she launched and named Rehab (so clever!); and storylines so forced and situations so staged that my eyes hurt from all the rolling.

Then there was the stuff that never made it to air: Reiko Mackenzie's then-husband's previous legal troubles, Claman and Zilba's fan-fuelled Twitter wars, text messages interpreted as threats, police called. And years later, Claman's personal life imploding – a nasty divorce, money troubles, her older daughter, Mia, injured in a shooting.

So, anyhoo, about all that shopping.

Maybe I'm not qualified to write about the Real Housewives phenomenon. The truth is I have not seen a single episode of any show in the franchise since Vancouver shut it down in 2013. But I did some googling this week and learned so much. For instance, I came across this headline on "Real Housewives of Dallas star Cary Deuber blasts LeeAnne Locken for fueling adultery rumors: 'You're misinformed, again.'"

Sample line from Locken in the accompanying article, which is a sneak peek from the reunion show airing this month: "You don't have to be born into society to be a socialite."

This is some deep stuff.

Meanwhile, in New York, Bethenny Frankel is still angry with Luann de Lesseps, calling her behaviour "demented" on this week's episode of The Real Housewives of New York City, according to Us Weekly's recap.

But what does Luann care? She's a countess! And she's engaged! She's wearing an eight-carat diamond ring! She met her fiancé just before Thanksgiving and he proposed on Feb. 5. He was going to propose for Valentine's Day but he just couldn't wait! She knew after one week that he was The One! ("You know when you know," she told Us.) Well, the second The One: Her first husband proposed after five days, and they were married two weeks later.

I don't want to be an entertainment elitist. I get that RHOW (Wherever) may be a guilty pleasure, a reality-TV escape from our own reality – which probably looks a whole lot less pretty than the Birkin bags, seaweed wraps and poolside clashes depicted on these shows.

But aren't there better things to watch on TV? Shows that don't make women look so bad? Shows that don't make you feel so embarrassed about the world?

There were moments, back during RHOV's first season, when I tried to convince myself that I could actually glean something about the human race by observing the goings-on of these privileged "housewives." What did it mean that Mary and Ronnie's friendship was unravelling? How to deconstruct the mother-daughter relationship between Jody and Mia? But I couldn't keep up the charade as season two continued the show's descent into unwatchable chaos – and was really boring, to boot.

So will Toronto be different? Will the Bridle Path beat out West Van? Does Rosedale trump Shaughnessy? Is Muskoka more lavish than Whistler? Will Yorkdale out-retail Yaletown? Oh my God, does anybody care?

When the ratings come out, my guess is we'll find out that they do.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

Follow the author of this article:

Check Following for new articles