What allows reality TV to exist so plentifully, and to be so successfully engineered, is perhaps our human tendency to experience the same event different ways. Liquoring up scared, fame-hungry young people gets you most of the way there, but it’s the producer-prodded endless parsing of what historian Daniel J. Boorstin termed “pseudo-events” that fill the hours and hours of cable programming we so happily consume: fights over who is a drunk, fights over who said who is a drunk, fights over what actually happened when everyone was drunk, and so on. (Mr. Boorstin also gave us a handy phrasing for the contemporary definition of a celebrity: “a person who is known for his well-knownness.”)
To test these theories, on Monday, The Observer embraced a full evening’s schedule of pseudo-events featuring celebrities and took a Rashomonic approach to the premiere of the fifth season of the wildly, bafflingly successful reality show, The Real Housewives of New York City. We sent three correspondents with varying degrees of RHONY knowledge to three premiere parties hosted by Housewives, and asked them to write honestly of their experiences.
What we learned: Despite perhaps being unwelcome, ex-Housewife Jill Zarin made the rounds. A couple of the Housewives will really miss their extra-large Diet Cokes (thanks a lot, Mayor Bloomberg). If you hang around with a Housewife long enough, you might run into someone actually famous (Liza Minnelli!?). And the show, when viewed with the celebrity cast members present, is even more uncomfortably hyperreal.
Thus we present: the Occasional Viewer’s Story, the Fanboy’s Story, and the Party Crasher’s Story.
Real Housewives of New York City
“I never used to watch the shows either,” Ramona Singer confided in The Observer last night outside of Sway, referring to the other Real Housewives incarnations.
We had just admitted that this Monday will be our initiation to The Real Housewives genre, when the fifth season premieres with three new cast members. It wasn’t that the show was bad, we told her. We just didn’t like television that had a lot of confrontation. It made us anxious.
“Totally. Do you know when I originally auditioned for the show, it was supposed to be called Manhattan Moms?” Ms. Singer confided. “When I was told about the name I was like, ‘You have to be kidding me.’ Then I started to watch the other versions, and I swear I lost five pounds before filming.”
Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter celebrated its issue demarcating the most powerful people in entertainment, inviting honorees like Katie Couric and Barbara Walters to the Four Seasons. Here are a few guests we were surprised to see!
the eight-day week
It’s not a Tuesday, but animals do indeed have paws—so, we get “Mardi Paws,” the most unfortunate pun we’ve seen since the New York Post covered the Anthony Weiner scandal. Real Housewife of New York Ramona Singer (no need to be delicate around her, she wasn’t one of the ones who got fired!)
All That Glitters
At last night’s Leap Day gala for the Kellner Family Pediatric Liver Disease Foundation, New Yorkers proved that they leap at the chance to wear things that reflect the camera’s flashing light. Herewith, a number of people who proved that just because you’re fighting for the cure doesn’t mean you can’t fight for the spotlight!