The Real Housewives of New Jersey

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Real Housewives of New Jersey TV Poster Image
More of the same "reality," this time in the Garden State.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex

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.

Language

Words like "whore," "bitch,""ass," "douche," and "balls" are audible, while stronger curse words ("s--t," "f--k") are bleeped.

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of an infant, 6, and 8 year old Written byMomma comma July 21, 2013

Ok

Cat, and real fights. Tons of sexual references. Very, very strong language. Often drunk. Good, not the best, but good. I like it. But, my kids must wait a few... Continue reading
Adult Written byThe JP Show May 25, 2009

Offensive

Think it should be TV-MA
Kid, 11 years old July 25, 2010

TRASHY

This is the trashiest show ever. Who wants to watch drunk women from New Jersey get into each others business and talk smack?
Kid, 12 years old July 13, 2013

"REALITY" SHOW AT ITS WORST

I dont even want to right a long review because the longer it takes, the more I think of the show. All these women do are get wasted and scream at each other... Continue reading

What's the story?

Not falling very far from the Real Housewives tree, THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY follows five of the wealthiest women living in the suburbs of northern New Jersey. There's Caroline Manzo, matriarch of the wealthy Italian Manzo family, and her younger sister, Dina, who happens to be married to Caroline's brother-in-law. Also part of the family is Jacqueline Laurita, who's married to their brother. Rounding out the group are Teresa Guidice, a young mother of three, and Danielle Staub, a divorced single mom who doesn't let previous relationship missteps deter her from finding Mr. Right. Cameras follow the women as they spend their time and money and cope with the challenges of daily life -- including motherhood, marital tensions, and, in some cases, trying to be accepted in a very tight-knit, image-conscious community.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of the Real Housewives "brand." What's the appeal of these shows? What kinds of messages do they send about consumerism?

  • Do you think people really want to be like the women in these shows? What would be the hardest part of living like them? The easiest?

  • Do you think the show is stereotyping elite communities to make the show more entertaining, or are they just showing “real people” as they truly are?

TV details

For kids who love TV about families

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