Bingeing The ‘Real Housewives’ Kept Me Sane In Quarantine

Jane Asher
Real Housewives
Photo: Images: PMC, NBC. Design: Cierra Miller/STYLECASTER

Bingeing the Real Housewives franchise is like entering a dishy group chat where you know no one is going to be talking to you. Getting to watch this drama play out on my screen made quarantine that much more bearable. Although I was doing the same thing pretty much every day, never leaving my house and operating on auto-pilot, the women of New Jersey, Potomac and New York were out there doing their best to keep me entertained.

We’re talking screaming matches at charity events (Jill and Ramona, get a room), ridiculously contrived group activities (I’m looking at you, Candiace and your bubble soccer game), walking up a mountain in Italy in heels, and I loved watching every minute of it. If I couldn’t live my life, I damn well could watch these women make a mess of theirs.

And so the rabbit hole began. I started The Real Housewives of New Jersey in late February and finished seasons 1 through 5 by mid-April. From there, I hopped across the Hudson to The Real Housewives of New York and ended up in the middle of season 5 by mid-June. I’m still making headway on RHONY, but it had to go on the back burner for The Real Housewives of Potomac, not only from what my co-workers had been telling me is the best Housewives franchise on the air, but also because I actually grew up in Potomac, Maryland. It was a no brainer.

The New Jersey ladies were the perfect group to keep me entertained when the world first went on lockdown. Danielle Staub’s rollercoaster of emotions with the other ladies, screaming matches and physical fights were the perfect distractions to the chaos around me. The way she strode into that infamous dinner party and so nonchalantly placed *that* book on the table had me on the edge of my seat. And Teresa’s “prostitution whore” table flip was just as epic as the teasers promised—that woman is an icon.

The early seasons of RHONJ were hilarious, shocking, slightly violent, but most importantly, felt very real. None of the drama was contrived (*ahem RHOBH*) and the women were all actually connected to each other, rather than a cast of strangers. I was able to get lost in the drama and become fully invested in the intricacies of the Giudice/Gorga family dynamics—#JusticeforKathy! Any time I needed an escape from watching the coronavirus case numbers rise in NYC, the ladies of New Jersey had me covered.

Across the river, The Real Housewives of New York was a completely different world. It wasn’t exactly the New York I lived in and loved, but seeing footage of traffic on the avenues and busy sidewalks was the reminder of home I needed while living with my parents in the D.C. suburbs.

The NY Housewives were prim and poised with their fitted shift dresses and Jimmy Choo pumps, the opposite of RHONJ, but that didn’t mean the drama was any less juicy. Seeing Bethenny and Jill build a sincere friendship and then watching it completely crumble (mostly due to Jill’s stubborn personality) was actually heartbreaking. Scary Island and Kelly Bensimon’s mental break might have been one of the best episodes of reality TV I’ve ever seen, and Jill crashing the getaway was just the cherry on top.

Watching these women flit back and forth from NYC to The Hamptons and throw a fit when they had to go all the way to Quogue made me forget the reality of the state of my beloved city. In watching, I was able to remember why I moved to this incredible town in the first place, and it solidified my need to return and stay for good. Being home in Potomac was fun for a few months, but I was ready to get back home and leave the 20854 to another group of women who make my small hometown seem a lot more exciting.

At first, I was hesitant to get into The Real Housewives of Potomac. I found it odd that less than half of the ladies actually lived in the town I grew up, but I’m so glad I got over it because RHOP is the best Housewives franchise on air right now, no contest.

The Potomac women are real and completely open about their lives. In fact, I think I may know a little too much about Ashley and Michael’s relationship, but that might be more on him than her if you know what I mean.

Candiace sharing her *very* real struggles in her relationship with her mom is both heartbreaking and completely frustrating at the same time—the perfect combo for quality television. Gizelle Bryant and Karen Huger are true reality TV queens ,and their ability to stir the pot and get away with it is unprecedented. I lived for pregnant Monique’s shady comments and I’m excited to see what newcomer Wendy will bring to the table.

During my Housewives bingeing journey, I was able to turn off my brain and focus on something other than the disaster that was the world around me. Immersing myself in the New Jersey ladies’ catfights, the New York women’s petty behavior and the Potomac housewives’ insane public showdowns was exactly what I needed during quarantine.

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