Wednesday, June 9, 2010

RHONJ and Writing

I love my Real Housewives (except Orange County--eww). The New York ladies sucked me in their drama the past few months: Bethenny and Jill's disintegrating relationship, Kelly's wackadoo antics, Alex's hives, Ramona's harmless self absorption, and Sonja--oh, man--the aging Holly Golightly is my new fave.

Contrarily, the New Jersey housewives have been a disappointment. Carolyn, Dina, Jacqueline, and Teresa seem like the same person with subtle variations. They dress the same (Sopranos-Lite), live in the same McMansions, chant the same mantra ("Family, Family, Family"), and groove on their hatred of Danielle. And what is our villain's motivation? To force a friendship with these clannish ladies? No matter how crazy Danielle is, the reality is four against one, and an unfair fight is a boring one.

The drama in RHONJ is forced at best. But what were the producers to do with four inherently uninteresting women and one seriously deranged ex-con?

There is a lesson here for writers. I often read books where plot is king and the characters seem just pieces on a checkerboard, moved here and there without much thought or definition. If the characters' personalities and desires are not well-drawn, it's definitely harder to let the drama unfold organically.

These ladies are primo examples of true characters:

(PS--I heard Bravo is thinking about doing The Real Housewives of Chicago. Think I should apply?)


  1. You are so right! I couldn't figure out why the show was so boring, but you (beta ninja that you are) have nailed exactly why it isn't working. I think you need to send Bravo Andy an e-mail with a gentle critique. Maybe you'll get a producer credit out of the whole deal?

  2. LOL. I quit watching the show years ago for that reason.

    It's a fear I have in my own writing. I might think something sounds organic to the story, but maybe someone else doesn't. And more importantly, maybe that someone is an agent who notices something my crit partners and beta readers didn't. :(