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The Real Housewives of Atlanta
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this latest installment of the Real Housewives franchise -- which follows the lives of five wealthy Atlanta socialites -- is more of the same. Like their counterparts in Orange County and New York, these women place great importance on wealth, social status, and material goods. Although the show deals with some of their personal problems (divorce, single motherhood) the series primarily focuses on their obsession with staying at the top of the city's social ladder. Not surprisingly, lots of high-end name brands are prominently featured. Also expect catty behavior, salty language (the strongest words are bleeped), sexual innuendo, and plenty of drinking.
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What's the story?
The latest installment of the popular, voyeuristic Real Housewives franchise follows some of Georgia's wealthiest socialites as they work to keep their place at the top of the city's A-list. Cameras roll as these five strong Southern women -- Lisa Wu Hartwell, Sheree Whitfield, DeShawn Snow, NeNe Leakes, and Kim Zolciak -- maintain their luxurious households, raise their kids, run their various businesses and charities, and keep their place among Atlanta's newly rich and famous. But, like their fellow wealthy housewives in California and New York, they must also deal with problems that money can't fix -- like divorce, single motherhood, and, in some cases, coping with issues stemming from a difficult past.
Is it any good?
Like the ladies of the O.C. and NYC, these women enjoy a life of wealth and status that most people can only dream about. But their status comes primarily from newly acquired wealth (thanks to successful marriages and partnerships with professional athletes, lucrative divorce settlements, and anonymous benefactors). Because of this, even though some of the women are highly successful entrepreneurs (Lisa is a successful real estate broker and fashion designer, and Sheree is a successful business owner), they sometimes come across as stereotypical "gold diggers" who are both calculating and greedy. Their behavior often seems a little tawdry, too, as they engage in catty arguments while trying to outshine the women in their small-but-elite inner circle.
Because it's set in the city that's considered by many to be the "land of opportunity" for African Americans, THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA highlights a successful and powerful segment of the African-American community that isn't always seen on television. Discussions of race are subtle, but it's an important theme here. References are made about Nene's "outlandish" (translation: "low class") behavior, while Kim -- one of Nene's best friends and the only Caucasian woman in the group -- is often visibly missing from many of the housewives' gatherings. The show delivers a mixed bag of social messages, but one thing remains constant: For these women, money and image -- and the power those two things bring them -- is everything.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of watching shows about wealthy, elite members of society. Why do you think the Real Housewives franchise is so successful? What kinds of messages do these shows send about people who have money? Do you think people really want to be like them? What would be the hardest part about living like these people? The easiest? Families can also discuss some of the women featured on the show. Some of them talk about their troubled pasts. How do you think that impacts the way they live their lives today?