The Female Olympics

By Carina Chocano, NYTimes Magazine: "One way to think about the 'Real Housewives' shows is as a kind of perverse, televised postfeminist-feminine-status Olympics. Here’s how it works: A group of highly competitive, thoroughly confused women are pitted against one another in five events: wealth, youth, beauty/body, husband and glamour career. In order to participate, the housewives must qualify in at least three of these categories. They need not have all of them in order to win, but it helps. Some categories trump others. For instance, wealth trumps beauty, and husband trumps glamour job. Kids-plus-husband trumps job, too — especially if the process of acquiring them leads to a show of one’s own. Every show features at least one aggressive instigator whose job it is to ratchet up the jealousy and paranoia and keep the interpersonal conflicts coming. All you really have to do to be a real housewife is take pride in your privilege, your leisure, your profligacy and your willingness to amplify the melodrama at every possible opportunity. You can’t win unless somebody else loses. "