The Real Housewives of Toronto, although it's only been two episodes, is proving rather dull. The women are not as glamorous as those from the long canceled Real Housewives of Vancouver, there isn't much in the way of titillating human drama, and the personal exposure/branding agenda is blatant. They don't even attempt to hide it.
Both Ann and Jana (especially Jana) openly admit contracting with the Real Housewives franchise is a business opportunity they intend to exploit. As such, we are unlikely to witness much genuine honesty or "real life" theatre in this series.
Nonetheless, despite the dullness and obvious bullshit of the Real Housewives of Toronto, because of my disdain for the rich and privileged and how they take advantage of public trust and celebrity culture for private gain and profit, I shall persist with my critiques.
In episode two, that critique begins with a curious eye trained on Jana. Why all the secrecy regarding her ex-husband? They evidently have no problem exposing their 9-year-old son, Will, to the scrutiny of strangers, but the cheating father is off limits?
Mind you, the cheating part is more heavily implied than said straight out, and occurs during the final few minutes of the episode. It's an unexpected moment of raw emotion after 40 minutes of contrived "reality", prompted by Ann after she confides she was screwed around on by her last scuzzy husband. They're all dirty dogs, ladies. The sooner you realize this, the better off you'll be.
|Stripper Roses. If your husband gives you one of these, BE SUSPICIOUS. Good god, women! Stop being so gullible! TRUST NO ONE.|
It would seem Ann's former "knight in shining armor" had a repertoire of romantic gestures that included bringing home different colored roses suspiciously characteristic of those found in the strip joints it turned out he frequented. Eventually Ann saw through his deceptions and left the marriage.
Today, many years later and happily remarried to little Stephen, a doctor who specializes in "face hickeys", Ann can look back at her failed nuptials with pragmatism and a sense of humor. This, however, is not yet the case with Jana, who is brought to tears after confessing a similar scenario befell her doomed marriage. But that's as far as she's willing to confess.
When asked how long she was married, the evasive Jana would only at first joke "just long enough"; although, when pressed, she adds, "I guess legally I was married for 10 years". She "guesses"? Who is this asshole who broke her heart?
|Emotionally distraught Jana Webb, Joga founder, and the mystery X-husband who broke her heart...after possibly bankrolling her venture. Intrigue, athletics, yoga, zen, superficiality and greed all rolled into one lucrative enterprise.|
I can't even find his name, never mind a single line of text about him or a blurred out, pixelated image of him. Apparently if you have the right connections and enough money, you can scrub the internet of any non-advantageous dirt related to you. Or at least bury it so deeply that only state-funded, tech-savvy Russians motivated more by trollish boredom than pure greed can unearth it.
But whatever is going on here with the ex-husband, it's pretty fishy. He must be a real piece of work to leave Jana so emotionally distraught. For one thing, it's hard to find something to dislike about Jana from what I can make of her so far, both on the show and from what I can find of her via social media and basic google searching.
She comes across as funny and upbeat, as well as down-to-earth, yet driven. She did a Tedx Talk in which she is articulate and sounds intelligent enough, bordering at times on philosophical, and of course she's a pretty girl (if you're happy calling a woman in her 40s a "girl"). Not that anyone who fits her description necessarily impresses someone like me, but the fact that she does not appear to have caved to the pull of the nefarious breast implant speaks volumes. She gets my reluctant, albeit capricious, respect for that detail alone.
UPDATE, APRIL 15, 2017: I actually could find his name: Dave Webb. It turns out it wasn't a big mystery after all (my original intent was caricature and hyperbole anyway, though, so literal accuracy was never and still isn't my intention). It would seem this Dave Webb is a teacher, so not someone "rolling in dough" exactly, although he appears to have a replacement trophy-looking wife, so he must have something going for him. Women who design themselves to look like a bleached blonde Haley don't normally go after financially insecure teachers, unless of course she's EXTRA stupid. That's always a possibility; however, although stereotypes are useful, not everyone fits neatly into them, so who knows. Besides, it's an irrelevant point to the matter at hand. The true question now is, if it wasn't her destitute ex-husband, who is the sugar daddy type that financed Jana's Joga venture? Hmm...the hunt is on...back to the drawing board, Watson!
|Dave Webb, the douchebag who broke Jana Webb's heart and pushed her into a wanton life of multiple "Mister Right Nows". Be safe, Jana. The rate of STD has risen DRAMATICALLY over recent years.|
Moving along to Roxy, who in no way gets my respect because I cannot stand the sound of her Kardashian voice. It's an act of self-flagellation just listening to her. To make matters worse, in addition to the "allure" of her nauseating vocal fry, she comes across as petty, jealous, vain, obnoxious, bossy and lazy, apparently thinking an elitist smoothie she splurges a small fortune on is a magical panacea that will give her eternal youth and beauty, as well as other mysterious "super powers".
The only physical effort Roxy has to put into this veritable elixir of immortality is that which involves puckering up her lips and sucking through a straw. She cannot be bothered to know what is in the smoothie exactly, only that her over-priced nutritionist told her to drink it every morning, so she reasons it must be "really good" for her.
|Roxy, happy as a Lark (Productions), comes charging into the scene like an elephant on a wrecking ball, |
thrilled for the opportunity to let the rest of us know how "fabulous" she thinks she is.
|Scrawny as a mouse, Elise, puts on a brave face |
and pretends to listen to Roxy's egomanical babble.
Speaking of big game, if Roxy's totem animal is an elephant – choice prey of the well-to-do trophy hunter – then gangly, nightgown-wearing Joan, with her freakishly long neck, "white savior complex" and philanthropic interest in Africa must be another gamy trophy, prized by the predatory rich: The giraffe.
Granted, being called a "trophy giraffe" may be a lame insult, but it has been harder than I assumed it would be to totally despise Joan. It's easy enough to dismiss her as just another conceited, vapid socialite consumed with status and material trinkets if judged strictly through the lens of reality TV.
|Joan Kelley Walker, former model, current trophy giraffe, hanging out with her buddies, looking down at the humans native to the African landscape. She wonders if "they" know about bubble baths. Potable water used for drinking is so passé.|
However, after reading a few of her Huffington Post articles, realizing she comes from a small prairie town in Saskatchewan, home to the Scandinavian settlers of my own ancestry, and noting her involvement with World Vision, it's not so easy to completely write her off.
That said, she is still someone who won the genetic lottery on the attractiveness scale which unfortunately (for the equality movement anyway) continues to be a meal ticket for women; particularly ones with dizzy, outgoing personalities and a willingness to conform to the lusty desires of the male gaze, even if that means having her already near perfect body surgically mutilated and exposed to botulism.
Joan is furthermore married to an obscenely over-compensated CEO, making them one of the wealthiest families in Canada in a system that is rigged in their favour – where corruption isn't corrupt because it's legalized corruption. Welcome to the corporate kleptocracy.
Any admiration for their philanthropy, therefore, is tempered by the knowledge that not only does it cause them no hardship whatsoever, it actually benefits them in terms of taxation, business and financial interests, social currency, platform, prestige and marketing, as well as self-esteem and personal satisfaction.
Still, I suppose self-serving philanthropy is better than no philanthropy at all. I'm sure those (putting aside the systemic imbalances that create poverty and dependency in the first place) who rely on the charities the Walkers support are grateful, regardless of their benefactors' motives.
Speaking of motives, one has to wonder what Graham Alloway was thinking when he willingly signed up for this frivolous show with his child-sized wife. He looks utterly ridiculous sitting there all slobbed out opposite Kara, awkwardly clasping her hands across the table as he listens with raised paternal brow to her gibberish.
Kara sounds like a 13-year-old girl jabbering on about how mean the other girls are and could daddy make it all better? Graham gently admonishes her for her gossiping, which effectively shuts her up.
UPDATE, April 15, 2017: I originally left the above scene with an unsettled feeling regarding the seeming father/daughter dynamic of Graham and Kara's relationship. However, on further reflection, who am I to comment on the mechanics of a committed, long-term, what appears to be happy marriage between two people who seem to actually like and respect each other and who have produced three lovely sons as a result? It's refreshing to see fully intact families on TV who aren't riddled with dysfunction due to problems with ex's, confused half-siblings, embittered stepbrothers, envious stepsisters, betrayal and soul-crushing affairs.
I apologize for the updates and digressions.
Now back to my final and original digression: Why can there never be any attractive men to look at on these shows? Graham, for example, resembles Mr. Mole and Grego's husband, Pierre Jutras, looks like he's started down the same path as Mickey Rourke.
Joan's old man, Don Walker, bears similarities to a lanky Johnny Fiama Muppet morphed with a sneering Mr. Rogers, and Dr. Mulholland looks like a munchkin who yo-yo diets and maintains a slicked back mullet. Roxy's financial backer, I mean husband, is just plain creepy and looks like he would be at home in a seedy bar with a flashing neon sign.
|Graham Alloway's doppelganger, Mr. Mole|
The husbands and dating interests of the Real Housewives are all men involved with women who spend about as much time and thought on their physical appearance as normal people do on their full-time jobs, yet these guys can barely muster the attention it would require to notice their pants are falling down (looking at you Graham). Some of them cannot bother to put a comb through their hair (if they even have hair) let alone get a haircut or trim an unruly beard.
But I guess they figure they make so much money, it doesn't matter how ugly they are, or how their non-aroused women are faking it. This lack of self-awareness (other than the hyper-awareness of their own arousal, that is) is why the average man cannot satisfy most women in the bedroom. It doesn't even occur to them that women might have "needs" of their own beyond serving the wants of men.
|The irony of an unkempt plastic surgeon capitalizing on the body dysmorphic disorders and culturally manufactured panic of already beautiful women desperate to stay "sexy" is duly noted.|
Then they (i.e. self-gratifying men) are angry and confused over why their secretly repulsed wives avoid sex with them (the unsightly Salman Rushdie and his now former, much younger model wife, Padma Lakshmi, come to mind).
|There's something viscerally repugnant and unnatural|
about seeing old, jowly grandfather-aged men
married to young, vibrant, granddaughter-aged women.
|Melania, grimacing at the thought of what she's going to have to do|
with this geriatric patient later on when they get back to the tower.
No amount of money is worth this
This then brings us to our final husband and housewife duo, Pierre and Grego. Grego is cute and charming enough, if you enjoy the sort of shallow party-girl personality she embodies, but she is otherwise so uninteresting that she barely deserves a mention.
She barely deserves a mention except to say that she's even more out of touch with the harsh realities of this world than she appears if she thinks that just because her lounge-lizard husband, Pierre, isn't bringing home clear signs of cheating, such as "flowers from a strip club" or an STD, this automatically means he's faithful. All his other stats would in fact imply the opposite. Oh sweet, sweet denial.
In conclusion, I don't know how women like this do it, live these showcase lives like the window prostitutes of Amsterdam's Red Light District. But, hey, they seem to want to do it (putting aside concepts of internalized oppression because let's not get carried away here, it's still a stupid TV show), there's a monetary, "branding" and social payoff for them, and they do have a larger purpose to serve. That purpose is appealing to the perverse and voyeuristic tastes of the average reality TV consumer and contributing to the overall decline of civilization. Good work, ladies.
|Here's to the decline of civilization. Well done.|
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 1: Dumb, Plastic and Sleazy
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 2: Boring Housewives and Ugly Husbands
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 3: The Polished Real Housewives of Toronto
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 4: The Slut Shame
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 5: Amazing Reality TV Stars
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 6: Infomercials and Friends in High Places
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 7: Social Suicide: Game of Thrones to the Rescue
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 8: Curious incuriosity
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 9: Denials, Dragons and Dummies
Real Housewives of Toronto, Episode 10, Season Finale: Final Absurdities