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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Lots of materialism and pettiness on display. The show promotes lots of stereotypes about "New Jersey girls" and Italian Americans. The women go to Atlantic City to gamble.
Positive Role Models
The series' subjects are all wealthy and materialistic, but some are more down to earth than others. They also place great value on family and motherhood, but some of them treat their kids more as friends than as children. Some of the women value their own education; others don't. The women are Caucasian, and the majority of them are proudly Italian American.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of arguing among the women, ranging from catty exchanges to all-out yelling, screaming, and minor destruction of property. Sometimes husbands get into the act as well.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kissing. Conversations about "boob jobs" (often referred to as "boobies"), as well as explicit discussion of phone sex and other specific sexual behaviors. Danielle posts naked pictures of herself on the Internet; she's accused of being a former prostitute. Caroline's youngest son wants to open a "classy" strip club.
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Words like "whore," "bitch,""ass," "douche," and "balls" are audible, while stronger curse words ("s--t," "f--k") are bleeped.
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Products & Purchases
The women spend their money on high-end items like La Perla underwear, Gucci jewelry, and expensive cars (Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Range Rover). The Manzo family is the owner of The Brownstone, a well-known and exclusive New Jersey restaurant.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Lots of drinking (wine, champagne, mixed drinks) during meals, cocktail hours, and other social gatherings. Danielle is subtly accused of being involved in drug smuggling.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this installment of the Real Housewives franchise follows the same formula as its predecessors. Material wealth and social status vie with raising children and maintaining relationships, and, true to form, lots of high-end brands (Gucci, BMW, etc.) are prominently featured. Expect lots of catty arguing, strong language (though the worst is bleeped), and drinking, as well as some rather explicit discussions about sex. The series also feeds into existing stereotypes about Italian-American families and women from northern New Jersey.
Is It Any Good?
Like the other Real Housewives series, the show offers a voyeuristic look at how these women negotiate having money and status while also trying to stay true to themselves and their relationships. Unfortunately, most of the stories being told -- from some of Teresa's well-meaning but gaudy makeup choices to the dynamics of the Manzo family (which leave you wondering whether the Sopranos are living next door) -- seem to be embedded in stereotypes about the Italian-American community. Meanwhile, while most of the featured women are educated and/or have some kind of professional experience, they're openly satisfied with living off the wealth of their current (or former) husbands.
The tight-knit nature of the show's community leads to a lot of tension with those who don't seem to "fit" into the well-established elite. While having "new" money doesn't seem to be an issue, some of the women's past and current relationships risk making them social outcasts. As a result, accusations fly and cat fights are a regular occurrence. Of course, it's exactly these moments of over-the-top drama -- along with the material excesses and obnoxious behavior -- that makes the Real Housewives shows the guilty pleasures that they are.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.