How I fell victim to The Real Housewives

I’ve developed a bad habit as of late. A Real Housewives habit.

That’s right. I’ve been watching a lot of one of the worst shows on television — The Real Housewives of New York.

I’d like to say that I don’t judge people on their TV consumption, but of course I do. So you can imagine my distress at my relocation to a glass house of my own — I can no longer lob stones at people who watch shows like Revenge, The Kardashians, Made in Chelsea, How I Met Your Mother, and all the other terrible things on television these days.

When did I fall victim to this TV trash phenomenon? Well, my mom came to visit a little while back and that’s when all the trouble started…

Some of the members of my mom’s side of the family share a bad habit: they need stimulating ambient conditions to fall asleep. For my late grandfather, that meant having his portable radio blaring on his bedside table. One uncle is famous for falling asleep in his living room recliner with the television tuned to episodes of Bonanza. Turn the television off and he’d abruptly waken, grumbling at you to turn it back on.

Bonanza_title_screenOld is gold — my uncle loves him some Bonanza. You’d think he’d stay awake for it though.

My mom is somewhat similar. She doesn’t always require something going on in the background to fall asleep, but it certainly does help. Take her to the cinema, and she’ll drift off during the first third of the movie. Then she’ll come to at various junctures during the film and ask what the hell has been happening for the past twenty minutes and who the heck this new character — who’s been on screen since the start of the film — is.a

In recent years, she’s taken to falling asleep on the massive sofa in the den in our basement, with the television blasting at full volume. At some point during the night, my father — who prefers to sleep in tomblike conditions — marches down to the basement to turn the TV off and corral her to bed.

Our apartment in London is nowhere near as spacious as the house in Amman, so during my mom’s visit all three of us would hang out in our living room after dinner. Sister and I were deeply immersed in The Bridge at this point, a terrific Scandinavian crime drama that’s taken Britain by storm. Bleak, completely devoid of glamour and very heavy on gore, we knew for a fact The Bridge would not be mom’s cup of tea.

Unknown-1If you aren’t watching The Bridge, you should be.

As much as we wanted to indulge in a marathon of our morbid drama (which was a lot), we also wanted to accommodate Mummykins — by sending her to sleep before switching over gleefully to our Scandinavian murderfest.

Here lies the irony: in order to drift off to dreamland, my mother needs to be engaged with what she’s watching. Which is completely counterintuitive; I had to find something that she enjoyed watching, so that she would not watch it.

Finding something to watch that she enjoyed these days was more challenging than I had expected it to be. She didn’t take a fancy to either romantic comedies nor costume dramas — genres that used to be a surefire hit with her just a few years ago. She would watch three minutes of whatever then pick up the book she had bought at the airport, or surf the internet on her tablet, oblivious to the film or programme Sister and I had spent 25 minutes scouring iTunes to find.

Frustrated, I decided to go for an easy target. Trash TV.

“How about we try The Real Housewives of New York?” There were several seasons on Netflix for free. If it was a bust with the mom, no harm, no foul.

Except not.

Both my mother and I took to the show like, like…like ducks to water. But exactly why that was the case is a whole other chunk of story that I’ll save for my next post.

  1. The only film I’ve ever been to with my mother where she’s been awake for the entire duration of the experience was, very surprisingly, a Bond flick, Skyfall. I think all the explosions and gunfire kept her alert.  (back)