In case you haven’t been watching, Bravo’s new series, The Real Housewives of New York City is fast becoming one of my new Spring favorites. It features a wide variety of nouveau riche excess, but unlike its sibling, The Real Housewives of Orange County, everything plays out against the backdrop of old money. These aren’t just a bunch of bleached blond women running around the isolated world of Coto de Caza. No, these women revel in tacky, déclassé behavior right under the noses of their WASPy neighbors, and what’s even sadder is that they think they actually fit in. Truthfully though, there’s only one member of the cast who’s a blue blood through and through. The rest are merely pale, but comical imitations.
After the jump, a guide to the housewives and where they rank on the socialite ladder.
Countess LuAnn DeLesseps
Countess LuAnn DeLesseps is probably the closest thing this cast has to a true blue blood. Yes, she was a pageant girl at one point, but she was a pageant girl from Connecticut. Huge difference. And unlike Jill or Ramona’s husbands (who earned their money through entrepreneurial endeavors), LuAnn’s spouse — THE COUNT — comes from old, Panama Canal money. And unlike Alex’s francophile husband, LuAnn’s is actually French. I mean, he’s a count for crying out loud. Admittedly, I questioned LuAnn’s WASPy cred at first, but that was mainly because I’d never heard of a countess named “LuAnn.” However, she’s proven me wrong time and time again. She maintains a quiet but discernible disdain for people like Ramona, who she subtly and wonderfully mocked at a Hamptons equestrian event, but oddly enough, she seems to have a soft spot for Jill, another nouveau riche housewife in the city. To be honest, I don’t really get the whole LuAnn/Jill thing, but since so far LuAnn has proven to have the best taste (and personality) of the group, I trust that if LuAnn likes Jill, maybe I should like her too.
Jill will never be a part of Manhattan’s true inner-circle, but unlike the other nouveau riche disasters (ie. Ramona and Alex), she seems to have a head on her shoulders that others above her on the social ladder (ie. LuAnn) will appreciate. The biggest problem for Jill is her taste level. Wear leopard print once, and you might as well cancel your subscription to the Met. Even worse for her is a New Yawk accent that just won’t stop. Plus, she’s just a tad too outspoken and showy. She’ll ruffle feathers if she needs to, but that ain’t gonna win her any brownie points at the club anytime soon…
Bethenny’s sort of the anomaly of the show. As she says, she’s very “anti” everything: excess, Hamptons, the Upper-East Side. Heck, I don’t think she even wants to be there, and being that she’s single, I’m not sure she even qualifies. Bethenny most certainly doesn’t come from old money, but she has yet to display any garish signs of being nouveau riche. Then again, she has yet to show any signs of being “riche” at all. Oddly enough, she seems like she does have style and a sense of taste, but I can’t imagine that her buzzsaw voice would go over well at the country clubs of Greenwich. She still needs plenty of refining, but despite that, we can’t overlook that she was the runner up on Martha Stewart’s Apprentice, and that alone gives her a leg up on fellow aspiring socialite, Ramona.
Alex is a tricky one. And by “tricky,” I mean gangly, awkward, and severe. She and her thong-wearing husband, Simon, certainly try the hardest to be part of Manhattan’s upper echelon of society, but something just doesn’t quite fit. Instead of aristocrats, they come off more like… Eurotrash. Or at the very least, pretentious. Their kids are named Johan and Francois, they summer in St. Bart’s, and they revel in a world of champagne flutes and haughty commentary. However, their aggressive attempts to prove they’re high society merely betray an antithetical showiness that threatens to unravel it all. They lack the cool confidence of Countess LuAnn, who knows her high station in life. Plus, Alex’s penchant for sartorial patterns that emanate out of her vaginal region doesn’t do her any favors in the “classy” department.
Poor Ramona. She thinks she’s arrived, but alas, as her interactions with Countess LuAnn DeLesseps have proven, she has a far, far, far way to go before she joins Manhattan’s elite. Of course, we need not wait for Countess LuAnn to show up to figure this out. Ramona’s hyper, outspoken demeanor mixed with her frequently gauche comments reveal a woman who is waaay out of her league. She seems to lack an all important self-awareness about herself and her surroundings, a cardinal sin in WASPville. Her daughter, on the other hand, is already well on her way to eclipsing her mom and all her mom’s friends in becoming the next member of LuAnne’s true social circle. Good for her.
What do you think about the housewives? And how do they compare to the Orange County ladies?