DysFUNctional

Kyle Richards (left) and Kim Richards (right) (Source: http://www.BravoTV.com)

Can I please have a trophy? I have spent the last 72 hours dealing with family and I am EXHAUSTED. I am so physically and emotionally drained that I am actually grateful that tomorrow is Monday…and I HATE Mondays! After the stress of a family funeral Thursday, a family wedding Friday and then all of the subsequent get togethers that followed I at least deserve a trophy, a T shirt, or at the very minimum a Xanax!

There was a time when I may have reflected on all the crazy that comes with family events with dismay. Growing up in the eighties and nineties with all of those picture perfect TV families was enough to make anyone feel abnormal. Perhaps John Hughes‘ cult classic Sixteen Candles was my favorite movie because it dove deepest into family dysfunction…even though it ditched being realistic when Samantha got the hot guy in the end…which never seemed to happen when I was sixteen.

However, today, through slightly gritted teeth, I am laughing at all that has transpired in the last few days because despite all the drama drama drama that occurs when my family converges in one area, I know that this is the norm for most people, and I ,you, we all have Reality Television to thank for that. Need proof? How many of you couldn’t sit through all the screaming during I Dream of Nene or cringed when Tamra Judge‘s brother got into it with her during a pre wedding gathering on Tamra’s OC Wedding?

In recent months there’s been a lot of criticism of reality television being too staged. We’ve all been asking “is it really real?” That I cannot say for sure, but I think I have figured out the one irrefutable truth that makes the genre deserving of its name. Reality television shows the nitty gritty dirty of relationships. Forget minor hilarious hiccups that resolve themselves by closing credits, these shows feature realistic problems that arise in families and friendships, many that never even get resolved.

Look at The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for starters. Who can ever forget the limousine scene when sisters Kyle and Kim Richards went at one another with years of pent up anger while the cameras were rolling? What about Vicki Gunvalson and her daughter Briana Culberson locking horns over Brooks Ayers? How many of us related to Bethenny Frankel when she argued with then husband Jason Hoppy at the heliport right before a scheduled get away?

Many wonder why reality TV is so popular, and here’s my theory. My family is nuts, your family is nuts, who really wants to keep watching television that makes us ashamed about that fact? Reality television families let their freak flags fly high enough to let us all know it’s not just us. By sharing their highs and lows these people let us know that all families have their quirks and all family events are planned with very careful and deliberate seating charts.

As the holiday season commences I’d like to remind you all to enjoy your next family function with pride because we’re all a little bit crazy. So sit back, relax, and find that one great relative you see eye to eye with. Hug him or her, laugh at it all, and share a Xanax.

Have a crazy family story or fave cray cray reality TV moment? Share it with us and you can win from TBB and Wrapadoo!

Land of Housewives

imageFor years I heard tales of the Hamptons. My husband talking of his glory days in high school and college lifeguarding the beaches, scenes in movies like Wall Street, and watching season after season of the Real Housewives of New York City take summer refuge there. When Sonja Morgan sent me the press release that she would be performing one of her infamous caburlesque acts in East Hampton I immediately saw it as a chance to see what all the buzz was about. I called up my long time friend and travel companion Patrice to assist me, and cross off another entry on our bucket lists.

Now I was not a complete Hamptons virgin. My mother tells me we used to go when I was a small child to a house rented by family friends. I have fragmented memories of sand in my suit, and a long galley type kitchen with too many people inside, but nothing like the Tommy Hilfiger or Ralph Lauren ads that often depict the lifestyle of the ultra preppy urbanite jetsetter. This was my chance to get a taste of both that and the inner workings of another Housewife show. We booked a hotel room in Southampton (the closest place we could find), as places to stay are few and far between. As one local told us, “most people here own or rent a home.”

Getting to the Hamptons can be tricky. A two hour drive can easily become a six hour one if you leave at the wrong time. We headed out early to beat the city rush. We skipped the LIRR’s Cannonball service for fear the seats would be sold out by the time we reached Penn Station. We ended up hopping the Cannonball train to get from Southampton to the studio where Sonja was performing, a guest in a full cabaret show to benefit the new Long Island Center for LGBT youth. The train indeed was packed with loads of people, and their dogs, some already with libations in hand to kick off the almost summer weekend.

When the train reached East Hampton station it was like we had been transported to another planet, one in which the entire population had just exited a Violent Femmes concert. The late great 80’s filmmaker John Hughes himself could not have staged such a scene. Every person looked like they shopped at Brooks Brothers and had graduated Harvard. The crowd was hustling and bustling and within an instant they were piled into waiting taxis and cars. Then everybody was gone. We found out our destination was in Wainscott, a little off the beaten path. When our driver arrived he asked why we were going to East Hampton’s only television studio. “We are going to see the New York City Housewives,” we told him. “Oh I’ve met Kelly Bensimon many times,” he tells us, “she is very nice.”

Long roads lined with lush trees and large stretches of land surround us on our drive. None of it fits my idea of the beach. I equate the Jersey Shore, with everything in walking distance from an ocean view as the beach. The Hamptons so far were reminding me more of country farmland. The studios seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and without our own car there we were, stranded, over an hour early, unable to even get something to eat beforehand as we had planned. Oh well, when in Rome, so we befriended some of the people working the event and watched some of the set up. Lights, chandeliers, seating cards. The excitement of the preparation was exciting enough to behold…and then the guests began to arrive.

They looked just as you’d imagine. Tall, lean people. Women in slender white pants. I believe I may have even seen one or two men wearing an ascot (or was that just my imagination?). These people could have been uppity Biff and Buffy types, but everyone was easygoing and friendly (and some a little drunk). If you are going to the Hamptons be prepared to party, because as we learned after the show, there are no wallflowers here. Everyone gets in on the action…drinking, dancing, dining (in moderation).

The day after we went into East Hampton’s business district. Shops align the street selling mostly clothing, jewelry, and goods for the well appointed beach home. I picked up a Father’s Day gift in a Ralph Lauren that was so representative of the brand (maybe it was the salesman that were wearing the ascots) it should have been the flagship.

Just like the cab driver there seemed to be somebody in every part of town that had a Housewife story. We wandered into Mayfair Jewelers and saw pendants just like the one Jason Hoppy gave to Bethenny Frankel during ‘Hoppier” times on Bethenny Ever After. “It is”, stated Justin Kulchinsky, who operates the store with his sister Lauren. “Our sister (Kristen Farrell) is the designer. We see Bethenny weekly and did her rings.” Those who watched the show would remember the young jewelry designer that Bethenny’s intern Max had a crush on. In case you are wondering their sister did eventually go on a date with him.

As our shopping day and our trip came to a close we headed back to the car. Our last stop was in front of a young girl directing traffic. “What brings you to East Hampton?” she asks. “I’m writing an article about a Housewives filming,” I tell her. “I met the Countess,” she says,”she was not nice.” “Oh really,” I answer,” she must have been having a bad day. We met her last night and she was delightful.”