Why the Southern Housewives are the Most Real of All

March 25, 2014 | By | Comments (6)
Illustration by Gracia Lam

Illustration by Gracia Lam

Are you watching that show again?” my daughter Dixie asks, her nose wrinkled in disdain.

“Yes,” I answer sheepishly. “It’s horrible. I know. Now close the door!”

I blame my husband. For years I existed in naïve bliss, unaware of the reality television behemoth known as The Real Housewives franchise. Then, one spring day he convinced me to sit with him while he watched an episode of the series set in New York. Within seconds my jaw fell open.

“How can you stomach this horror show?” I asked Mr. Beasley, who grinned devilishly at my inability to turn away from these women screeching at each other like hungry toddlers, registering every petty slight and grievance all while wearing designer dresses and shoes that cost more than most people’s mortgages. “These people are the worst,” I kept on. “And why is Ramona always drunk? And did her husband really cheat with the nanny?” Just like that, I went from zero interest to full-scale addict in under an hour.

As is true with any new convert, I was initially unbridled in my enthusiasm. I gobbled up every TRH offering. Soon enough though, I transitioned from aficionada to connoisseur, and with that growth came discernment. Not every Housewife spin-off was created equal. In fact, after several seasons of consuming all the Housewives on offer, I realized the only ladies really worth spending time with were the ones from Atlanta. Attorney-turned-mortician Phaedra Parks, model Cynthia Bailey, the indomitable alpha NeNe Leakes (who resembles a linebacker in sequins)—these belles from hell were something their California and New York cousins weren’t—fun!

Sure, they were superficial and stunted and could be mean as cut snakes. But unlike the uptight prudes of Orange County or the inbred psychotics of Jersey, the Atlanta women had a sense of humor. They seemed in on the joke, aware, in a way the other women weren’t, that this was a goofy television show, and as such, it behooved all parties to act like fools and yank off each other’s wigs, to be, in the delicious words of cast member Kenya Moore, “Gone with the Wind fabulous.”

America agrees with me. While ratings for every other Housewives brand have dropped precipitously, Atlanta is netting more viewers than ever (4.5 million and counting). Perhaps this is because the Atlanta housewives resemble actual humans. They represent all different shades. None are on a diet. Most even have their original faces. They are, for reality stars, real. They love their mamas. They parent old-school. All but one of them works at a genuine job, and none of the women truck any nonsense from their men. (These things may be related.)

More likely, the nation has figured out something we’ve always known: If you need to blow off steam for an hour, there’s no better way than in the company of Southern women.


  1. Mollie

    This article is full of venomous and repungnant comments. When did it become acceptable for a southern magazine, who prides themselves on the southern lifestyle, which includes manners, kindness, and extending grace to others, allow such a judgmental and rude article to be published.

    The writer shows zero humility and takes it upon herself to decide what is real or not in the lives of women, using extremely hurtful comments to take us there. She applauds the Atlanta housewives for not being on diets but proceeds to compare one to a “linebacker in sequins”. I guess it is tolerable to have a different body type, but you may be compared to a burly, manly, football player.

    As women, shouldn’t we be encouraging one another and attempting to lift each other up? That is certainly not possible when we are calling one another “stunted inbreds”. Allison should really consider here who is “mean as a cut snake”. Perhaps she could heed the old adage, “If you ain’t got nothing nice to say, don’t say nothing at all!” I am utterly shocked the article didn’t end with “but bless their hearts.”

    April 1, 2014 at 8:25 pm
  2. Rebecca

    fun article, I enjoyed reading it, it made me feel vindicated in my enjoyment of the RHOA

    March 31, 2014 at 11:23 pm
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  5. Paige

    Your comments are unnecessarily cruel and tasteless. “Linebacker in sequins” and “inbred psychotics” are not phrases a true Southern lady should use to describe other women. Southern Living should be ashamed to have such nasty vitriol on their site!

    March 26, 2014 at 10:09 pm
  6. Angel F.

    Really, a linebacker in sequins? Just shameful!

    March 25, 2014 at 6:22 pm

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