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The Real Housewives of Orange County
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 reality series follows the lives of insanely rich people who place immense value on physical beauty and material possessions. While the show focuses on a group of adult women who have breast implants, get Botox shots, and pose for Playboy, we also see teens who spend thousands of dollars on school shopping, get new luxury vehicles at the drop of a hat, and shoot rabbits for fun. But beneath the superficial lives are real people who struggle with childrearing, self-esteem, and finding purpose.
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What's the story?
Capitalizing on the nation's fascination with reality shows and California decadence -- as portrayed on The O.C. and Desperate Housewives -- Bravo has created THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY, a captivating reality series about the lives of five women who live with their families in an exclusive gated community in Southern California. The five women aren't all housewives in the strictest sense of the word (some work outside the home), but they do rule their homes and manage the lives of their children, all while surrounded by stratospheric wealth. Cameras follow the women and their family members throughout most of their daily life, with occasional one-on-one interviews interspersed with the day-to-day action.
Is it any good?
The Real Housewives of Orange County is a mix of voyeuristic trash and compelling sociological study. Watching these women live lifestyles that many would envy, viewers see both the superficiality of their experience and their shared humanity. Watching the show could be a sobering experience for teens who think that money really could buy happiness.
Kim is the proto-typical soccer mom with an executive husband who works for a Fortune 200 company. She shuttles her two kids to their various activities while wearing designer clothes that show off her hard-earned slender figure and her generous bust (thanks, breast implants!). Jeana is a successful real estate agent with three children. She's married to a former major league baseball player, and her two sons are expected to follow in their father's footsteps. Jo is the youngest of the group at 24. She's engaged to a wealthy executive who tries to control her youthful proclivities and corral her into playing stepmom to his children. The other two women, Vicki and Lauri, are equally compelling and repulsive.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about a variety of different issues. What's appealing about the lifestyles portrayed in the series? What's missing from these people's lives? What kinds of experiences and challenges do the rich share with the rest of us? What would be the hardest part about living like these people? The easiest? If you could pick one thing in their lives to have in your own, what would it be? Sometimes cast members discuss their lives before they came to Orange County -- what do their stories reveal about them and how their newfound culture has changed them?