Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Real Housewives," or "The Women Redux"

Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and Rosalind Russell - When wives had class as well as ambition and claws
For reasons which, initially, I could barely explain, I've become a devotee of the "Real Housewives" shows on Bravo, particuarly the latest one, "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," which is easily the entertainment version of fast food - great-tasting, unhealthy and guilt-producing.

But then, one day, when I was able to tear myself away from Bravo and return to my beloved Turner Classic Movies, I realized something. Turner was promoting its May 14th screening of George Cukor's "The Women" of 1939 and it suddenly dawned on me that, 60 years later, Bravo's collective series on catty, acquisitive, self-absorbed, untrustworthy women of privilege is clearly the heir to Cukor's classic.

Danielle Staub, a real Jersey housewife
In many ways, the women, then and now, are exactly the same, except that the characters in Cukor's film talk with much better diction and have a noticeably less vulgar taste in clothing, decor and especially men. (The men in "The Women" remain off-screen but I'd wager that they're more presentable than the balding, obese nouveaux riches of "Housewives.")

Poor Diane English. She spent 10 years working on her 2008 remake of "The Women," doing her level best to approximate and modernize Cukor's take on Clare Boothe Luce's ruthless depiction of, er, loyalty among women. While she was busy working, Bravo got it right.


Anita said...

I like this! Great take on both the show(s) and the film. I also can;t quite figure out why English blew it, but Bravo got the formula down pat, probably inadvertently.

Zack said...

Wild analogy. I enjoy those shows, too. Now, I know why!

Rupert Alistair said...

Who would have thought? You nailed it, but can there be any comparison to the magnificent 1939 classic? Thank you for bringing this spot on analogy to our collective attention!