Last night, Bravo launched The Real Housewives of New York City, and the world was horrified to see five faux socialites bark at the help, send their kids to fat camp, and prance around St. Barts wearing thong bathing suits. Not us! We were delighted. So were the participants. At Bravo's premiere party Monday night, Ramona Singer, the blonde jewelry designer whose daughter called her mother "unladylike" after she made out with her friend and threatened to throw her dog in the pool, said she was pleased with how things turned out. "I was surprised at how articulate and confident I came across," she said. "I feel that inside, that confidence, but I didn't know that I exuded it." Bethenny Frankel, a chef to celebs like Denis Leary and Mariska Hargitay, was similarly confident about her appearance, since she had had a good experience on Martha Stewart: The Apprentice. "I've never had the experience of bad editing," she said. "If you're authentic, it comes across." But decorator Jill Zarin, who sends her daughter Ally to a weight-loss camp in an early episode, was steeling herself for a bumpy season. "We've been getting some tough reviews," she said, then shrugged. "It's expected with reality. If we were all perfect statues, how boring would that be? Come on, bring it on." But, she hastened to add, "Don't be mean." As the episode was projected on a big screen in the middle of the room, revelers whooped and clapped. Singer stood behind her blown-up image and pointed, clearly delighted. —Maridel Reyes
As you all know, Gossip Girl is returning to the airwaves soon, therefore saving us from having to unleash all of our obsessive glee on another unwitting subject. But if we were to do so, the victim of our endless critiques would probably have been The Real Housewives of New York City. Come on, you know you're going to love hating yourself for loving to hate it. We got hold of the first two episodes, and they did not disappoint. The show serves to show us a whole new class of people that we haven't really seen before. The Orange County edition was just as campy and trashy as one would expect; after all, money is what shows status out there. Here, class still matters. Real Housewives trains a telescope on the little-examined but arguably powerful firmament of wealthy adults in Manhattan, those who aggressively crowd around established society stars, hoping that some of the glitter may fall on them. They're the people in the background of Bill Cunningham's pictures in the "Styles" section, the donor names you don't recognize, the bodies filling in the chairs at Da Silvano. It's kind of uncomfortable to watch, because at the end of the day most of the women are sort of sweet, happy, and slightly flawed. You feel like you're watching a show about your mom's kooky friends. What saves the show, though, is the reactions of the supporting cast family members, friends, and staff around the five ladies. They make the women redeemable and real. For every nutty social climber, apparently there is a nanny, a tennis pro, one to three children who have a 50-50 chance of surviving boarding school, and a devoted husband or boyfriend. This week in New York, we profiled our five favorites. Check it out, and if anybody's slept with the tennis pro, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We don't want to publish anything; we just have some questions.
Behind Every Housewife [NYM]
When grappling with how to handle the advent of the new Bravo show The Real Housewives of New York City, the Times was faced with a conundrum: Here is a show that will purportedly expose a sector of society that the newspaper, in its "Style" section and in its T magazine, regularly covers. But it's also trashy reality television. How to cover? Thankfully, the geniuses at T came up with a solution just in time for the show's March 2 debut. They took matters into their own hands, and, for one photograph, at least, they grabbed the cast of the show and classed them up. They put on a "lingerie party" organized by the owner of upscale boutique La Petite Coquette in the West Village. They styled the ladies, thrust Champagne glasses into their hands, and sent in Times style icon Alex Kuczynski to moderate it all for their Women's Fashion Spring 2008 issue. Above, you'll see the fruits of their labors, an image from their story coming out this Sunday in the paper (it's not online yet). Don't they look sophisticated? The T people are really geniuses. Nothing makes a person look classy like sticking them next to someone in her undies.
T Magazine [NYT]
We've been hearing bits and pieces about this for a couple of months now, but the Daily News has busted the story of Bravo's Real Housewives of New York City wide open. With pretty pictures of the pretty ladies, and quotes from all of them about what the show is going to be like ("We work hard and then we party hard!"), their coverage has succeeded in getting us really amped up about the new show. Since it starts out all the way in March, we plan on doing a little buildup research in the meantime. Maybe, if it turns out to be good, we can try being obsessed with it like we were with Gossip Girl. They'll have to earn it, though, we don't go through two bottles of wine, a box of tissues, and a Klonopin once a week for just any show. And from what we can scrounge up so far, we're not yet sold. Below, what a quick scan of Nexis teaches us about these so-called socialites:
• Fashion entrepreneur Ramona Singer has zero appearances in the gossip columns and only one appearance on Bill Cunningham's page in the Times (though it was in the Hamptons so that surely earns her some points). But she has eight mentions or pictures on newyorksocialdiary.com, which is technically more legit.
• Alex McCord, who lives in Cobble Hill and is therefore the only cast member not filming from the Upper East Side, has appeared once on Cunningham's page (from a Metropolitan Opera opening) and only twice on NYSD.