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The Fantasy of Reality

Critical Essays on «The Real Housewives»

Edited By Rachel E. Silverman

With over twenty different casts, multiple spin-off series, and five international locations, The Real Housewives franchise is a television phenomenon. The women on these shows have reinvented the soap opera diva and in doing so, have offered television viewers a new opportunity to embrace a loved, yet waning, genre. As the popularity and prevalence of the docu-drama genre of reality TV continues to increase, the time is ripe for a collection of this sort. The Fantasy of Reality: Critical Essays on ‘The Real Housewives’ explores the series and the women of The Real Housewives through the lens of race, class, gender, sexuality, and place. The contributing authors use an expansive and impressive array of methodological approaches to examine particular aspects of the series, offering rich analysis and insight along the way. This collection takes seriously what some may mock and others adore. Chapters are both fun and informative, lending themselves well to Housewives fans and media scholars alike.


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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vii The Real Housewives: Casts and Seasons ix Introduction 1 Rachel e. SilveRman Part 1: Getting to Know The Real Housewives 1. Queering “Housewives” 13 Ragan Fox 2. “Brains, Booty and All Bizness”: Identity Politics, Ratchet Respectability, and The Real Housewives of Atlanta 27 Robin m. boyloRn 3. Race (Re)visited: It’s a (Mostly) White World 43 nicole b. cox 4. Sunshine Blondes in a City of Glass: On Watching the Real Vancouver 59 eRin aShenhuRSt Part 2: Watching and Selling The Real Housewives 5. Affective Enterprising: Branding the Self Through Emotional Excess 75 Jacquelyn aRcy 6. The Real Entrepreneurs of New York City: Selling Elegance and Class in the Marketplace 93 PeteR bJelSkou vi contentS 7. Hate-Watching the Housewives: Gender, Power, and the Pleasure of Judgment 109 Rachael libeRman Part 3: Beyond The Real Housewives 8. Do Mean Girls Grow Up? Watching “Queen Bee” Stassi Schroeder on Reality Television 125 emily D. RyallS 9. Love the Housewives, but Where’s Our Feminism? 139 JuDy battaglia, aShley coRDeS, kathleen noRRiS, anD Roxanne bañueloS 10. Every Housewife’s Best Friend: The Sidekick 159 DaviD guDelunaS Part 4: Without Him, The Real Housewives Wouldn’t Exist 11. Notes on Andy Cohen 175 keith beRRy anD tony e. aDamS Contributors 191 Index 195

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