Critical Essays on «The Real Housewives»
8. Do Mean Girls Grow Up? Watching “Queen Bee” Stassi Schroeder on Reality Television
EMILY D. RYALLS
In January 2012, Bravo premiered Vanderpump Rules, a spinoff of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHOBH), featuring Housewife Lisa Vanderpump. The show follows the exploits of the young and beautiful servers and bartenders at one of Vanderpump’s Beverly Hills restaurants, SUR. The majority of the stars of the show are wannabe models, musicians, and actors, and at least one of the servers—Stassi Schroeder—is not new to reality television (RTV). In July 2008, Stassi was a contestant on the RTV show Queen Bees. On Queen Bees, seven girls, who believe they have come to Los Angeles to participate in a “Biggest Diva” contest, learn friends and family actually nominated them for the show because they think the girls need to change their “mean” ways.
In featuring Stassi, Vanderpump Rules provides access to a grown-up “mean girl.” The mean girl has been a staple in popular culture since 2002 when Rosalind Wiseman’s book Queen Bees & Wannabes and Rachel Simmons’s book Odd Girl Out claimed to document a hidden aspect of girl culture where bullying and female aggression is widespread and undetected. The image of the mean girl developed in these books is predicated on the idea that popular girls are maintaining the power associated with their elite social status in increasingly treacherous and brutal ways. Conscious of popularity’s attendant rewards—boyfriends, parties, awe and fear in others (Kelly & Pomerantz, 2009)—mean girls are framed as using indirect aggression,...
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