A Housewife does not need to be married, or in a serious relationship. Even for the Housewives who are married or have children, on TV they are Housewives first and wives and mothers second.
(You can tell this is true because they regularly insist they’re wives and mothers first, and they do so while sitting on velour reunion-special sofas and speaking to Andy Cohen about how they try to rise above their feuds with the other women.) There’s plenty of cultural ire for the Real Housewives, and there are bountiful reasons to dislike them. They mine their lives and their families and their careers for notoriety.
The evolution of the TV family — away from saintly mothers and toward women as people with their own desires — drove the housewife in this direction, and there’s no stuffing her back into an apron.
When you consider the Housewife as a new branch of the original housewife definition rather than a separate island of meaning, she charts as remarkable an evolution as any other member of the TV family.
If Vicki Gunvalson is what a housewife looks like, the “fake” housewife is the one we carry as an imagined, beatific maternal housekeeper in our collective unconscious. The real ones are the ones with their own dance-pop alter egos, who have homes so big they contain movie theaters and bathrooms with sofas and fireplaces, and who get in spats about not being invited to Kyle Richards’s White Party.
As the franchise has grown into its own empire of reality content, spawning new series in new cities and spinoff series and stand-alone celebrities, it’s also drifted ever farther from the housewife as a figure tied to a TV family, and carved out an entirely new territory for the meaning of the word. She is no longer conceived of in any family context at all, in fact.
She occasionally expresses frustration with the limits of her role, and then starts an Etsy store or teaches yoga for an episode.
They’d be close to a housewife of the From the jump, though, there was a sense that these women were not going to be wearing aprons and pulling pot roasts out of the oven.It’s family as vocation, as career, as societal role. Her more modern counterpart has a minivan, a carefully tailored plaid button-down shirt, a peanut-butter-smeared slice of bread in one hand, a soccer bag in the other.In either iteration, her expression is usually exasperated or exhausted, concerned or patient.We tend to mark the evolution of families on TV by certain milestones: the first TV divorces, the first interracial families, and the move away from sincere, sanitized sitcoms to grittier portraits of family life.You can consider individual family roles and think about the way the TV father has changed from a benevolent, distant god to a Babybjörn-wearing stay-at-home dad.