Friends – even if you are one of those people who claim to be only vaguely interested in television, and swear that you watch only PBS soap operas, British spy movies, The History Channel, or Bloomberg Business, you must be aware that the new season is upon us. I, for one, am an unabashed TV viewer, and I confess this with the same courage with which I owned up to my Cool Whip addiction. I do not ask for forgiveness.
As devoted as I am to police dramas, post-mortem dissections, and Jeopardy, I have so far failed to understand the public’s attraction to Reality TV. I have experienced it at least enough to decide that even five minutes is four minutes too long. I find Honey Boo-Boo exactly that, and if I had watched the Kardashian daughters when I was in my child-bearing years, I probably would have run to my ob-gyn demanding to have my tubes tied.
And yet they return, season after season. Young, well-built, bikini-clad people prancing around a remote island. Other young couples jumping out of airplanes and racing around the world looking for clues. Over-dressed bejeweled fashionistas, claiming to be housewives. (Though how they manage to get any vacuuming done between all those cosmetic surgeries is beyond me.)
As I am wasting my time pondering why these shows continue to grab the ratings, I review what I have just written. Of course I can’t relate to any of this. Besides the concept of the programs being totally inane, these people are not my demographic. Smarten up, TV executives. There are more than 60 million of us in America over the age of 60!
And so, in the interest of eliminating age discrimination in prime-time TV, I offer an alternative version to one of these mind-numbing sixty-minute time wasters.
The Real Housewives of Century Village.
As an alternative to the Real Housewives of Miami, I offer the Real Housewives of Century Village. The show stars six friends of a certain age who reside in a retirement community which, by sheer coincidence, also happens to be located in south Florida.
The group consists of Connie, a platinum blonde, Carole, an ash blonde, Roz, a champagne blonde, and Sue, a golden blonde. Zipporah, playfully referred to by the others as Zip the Lip, is the token brunette. And Jane, the non-conformist of the group, courageously allows her hair to remain its natural gray. Although this is subject to change, now that Mr. Lerner, her neighbor has become available due to the recent death of his wife, may she rest in peace.
Connie, Carole, Jane, and Sue are widows, Roz is recently divorced, her husband having left her for his physical therapist while he was recovering from a knee replacement. After forty-five years of marriage, Roz bitterly recalls the day she watched him hobble off, leaning on his walker, with his suitcase strapped to his back. Zip the Lip is the only housewife still married.
For the first show of the new season the camera pans in on each of the six amigas at home, preparing to meet for a shopping spree at Loehmann’s.
The first vignette belongs to Roz, who is trying to apply her mascara while weeping over her divorce. She explains to the audience that she still loves him but, at the same time, wishes he was dead. She gets some comfort from the fact that their children are not speaking to him.
As she rearranges her ash blonde hairdo, Roz tells the viewers that the one good thing that came out of all the intense grief surrounding her divorce was that she lost 20 pounds, and is back to her college weight. She stands to show off her skinny pants with matching jacket from Chico’s. She dons her jewelry recently purchased from binge-buying on the Home Shopping Network, and steps outside to the parking lot to meet her friends.
Connie, Carole, Sue, and Jane are introduced consecutively. Connie, who is the most affluent of the friends, (her husband owned a chain of funeral homes) walks us through her decorator-appointed condo as she searches for her Bottega Veneta hand bag, which, she assures us in confidence, unlike her friend Sue’s, is not a counterfeit.
We meet Carole, the most indecisive of the group, in her bedroom, still in her bathrobe. Half the contents of her clothes closet are strewn on the floor as she tries to decide what to wear. We politely leave her to resolve her quandary.
Sue has just stepped outside and locked her door as the camera catches up with her. She is a vision in pink with her Chanel jacket and Prada sunglasses. But are they?
Practical, non-conformist Jane, the only one of the crew wearing sensible shoes, is distracted as she talks to the camera, keeping an eye out for Mr. Lerner, should he emerge from his condo. Her plan is to dash outside and “accidentally” bump into him, offering words of comfort, and a helping of home-cooked brisket. We now understand the purpose of the sneakers, which clearly do not go with her otherwise coordinated attire, and dangling earrings.
We are introduced to Zipporah (Zip the Lip) in her kitchen, still yelling at her husband about how he ruined last night’s meal. Fresh from a French cooking class, she was intent on showing off to Connie and Sue, whom she had invited for dinner. But the stupid lout had brought home three cucumbers instead of zucchini squash, completely ruining her plans for ratatouille. Phil was saved from further debasement when Roz knocked on the door to tell her everyone was waiting outside.
During the last half-hour the audience is treated to a discussion about whose cars they should use, and who should ride with whom. Carole, of course, is vacillating. Connie and Roz are somewhat on the outs since Roz accused her of cheating at mahjong. And Zipporah sullied the air by telling Jane that her dangling earrings made her look like a slut.
Jane still holds a grudge against Sue for sneaking into her bathroom and taking her last Depends, leaving an empty box in the cabinet. Connie is whining because, although she has the largest, most expensive, most comfortable car, it isn’t fair that she always drives.
We leave the six friends as they argue in the parking lot. Previews of next week’s episode invite us to be flies on the wall as the Real Housewives of Century Village finish their post-shopping spree luncheon, and discuss how to split the check.
I hope this show is a success, because I’m already hard at work revamping other reality series. For example, The Amazing Race. Ten couples compete for a grand prize to be determined. Considering age limitations and reduced stamina, the playing field will have to be somewhat reduced; let’s say from racing around the world to fast-walking around a gated community.
And, as for Survivor, the title speaks for itself. We’re still here, aren’t we? Fortunately, we remain in the game and have not yet been voted off the island!