Friday, March 24, 2017

Scrubbed and Varnished: The Real Housewives of Toronto

The Real Housewives of Toronto is so scrubbed and polished of the messy realities, genuine reactions and complexities that make human beings intriguing subject matter that one has to grasp at straws just to maintain interest.


A squawking girl squad of migraine-inducing proportions.
In episode three, the fakery opens with Roxy and a bleating trio of food-fearful girlfriends all gussied up for their big television debuts. Now we are treated to not one, but four adult women speaking in that intolerable Kardashian way – it's all "like" this and "super" that and "oh my gosh!". I can't stand it. This style of speech should be banned past the age of 14. Listening to them talk is like having a fork rammed into my eyeball.

But I'm a masochist so I shall persist.


If you want boobs, you've come to the right place.
Other than sounding identical and strategically showing ample boob, Roxy looks out of place with her anorexic girl squad. 

This is a calculated move on the part of the script editors and producers.

A few years back, Lark went gung-ho with the bully angle on the Real Housewives of Vancouver and got a backlash for it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for a sensationalized reality TV show (the "there's no such thing as bad publicity" adage). 

However, the show was canceled and it turns out bad publicity can in fact ruin a career, destroy a life, or bring down an empire, so perhaps this time around with the "body shaming" angle Lark is attempting a less obvious approach.


You can take that fork and stick it right in my tasty eyeball, Roxy. You'd like that wouldn't you? So mean.

That said, I don't know how successful they actually are at not being obvious. The scene begins with Roxy gushing how excited she is that she's about to eat. This admission is put in the context of having lunch with her comparatively stick-thin friends, who clearly DO NOT like to eat. Subtle. 

I could go off on a tangent here regarding the ignorance of viewing obesity as a character flaw as well as an excuse to be cruel. But I'll let that sleeping dog lie, and instead leave you with the experience-based insights of one Dr. Peter Attia: Stop moralizing and Question the Science of Weight.

Putting that touchy topic aside, we move onto Grego, who is shown staged with her children, packing for the big dramatic highlight of the episode: A weekend partying like college students on spring break in Muskoka. 


With stimulating dialogue like this, who could ever rip themselves away? Grego:
"I used to be an over-packer, but now I'm more careful with packing". Fascinating.

Watching these women use their professionally made up children like props is reminiscent of beauty pageant mothers. I guess when you're an opportunist everything and everyone is a potential publicity stunt and money-making opportunity, even exposing your own children to the possibility of public scorn, or, I don't know, taking advantage of the near choking-death of your 10-year-old daughter with special needs. 

Granted, thus far no one is exploiting a child's medical difficulties in this series. But these children are being exploited every time they appear on screen, no matter how adorable the kids are, or in the case of Ann's daughter, Molly, how funny. (Despite the implied criticism, Molly, with the kind of laconic replies and teenage sarcasm I enjoy, has gotten a few "laugh out loud" chuckles from me).

Moving on now, we come to more barely concealed Frankenstein boobage in the form of a preening, narcissistic Joan. She thrusts, prances and jumps about, showing off not just skin, but her Muskoka property, and welcoming her literally ridiculously well-heeled, suggestively-clad guests. 


Just a hint of what an "outstanding CEO of the year" named Donald can
buy with his millions and billions and gazillions.

When does the orgy begin? I can't wait to see Graham without a shirt. I wonder if another virtual Adonis who amuses me (one of several on my watch list of male buffoonery and intellectual curiosity) and happens to also own a "cottage" on a lake in Muskoka, Kevin O'Leary, will make an appearance...hmm.


Curiosity is the lust of the mind ~ Hobbes
But first things first: Maca mixed with strawberry-rhubarb...or as Kara so eloquently puts it: "boner smoothie". She hands this trendy twist on Spanish Fly and oysters, heavily marketed to make you believe it's an aphrodisiac that does wonders for the libido, to Jana. 

Jana, with her "roster" of Mister Right Nows, immediately knows what Maca is, and the miracles it's purported to perform, and confides she "takes it every morning". The double dose might have been too much for her, though, because later in the episode she's lost any hint of inhibition and can't stop herself from spontaneously hiking up her dress and showing off her unmentionables to a surprised group of onlookers. 

Of course it could be all the booze. She does love to drink and admits she doesn't trust people who don't drink, which is weird. In my experience, while alcoholics are some of my favorite kinds of entertainment, you certainly cannot fucking trust them.


The Real Alcoholics of Toronto
With regards to Jana's lack of inhibition, Maca, oysters and Spanish Fly have nothing on good old fashioned alcohol for obliterating self-restraint and enhancing libido...that, or MDMA (Ecstasy). But the scene ends before we actually see the drugs or the orgy (which is only "insinuated", but the powerful, rich and beautiful are notorious swingers so it's a fair deduction).

In any event, whatever goes on after hours, by the end of episode three, Jana has gone ahead and taken it all off, along with Joan and Grego, and the three of them, all sloppy drunk, have jumped into the lake naked. However, this is a "classy" depiction of Canadian opulence and the viewer is spared the drowning sex show (excessive ethanol retards breathing). We are also spared the sight of Graham without a shirt and sadly Mr. Wonderful is nowhere to be seen. Oh well. It was a long shot anyway.

As for the fully-clothed Graham, when he and Kara catch wind of Joan's plans for a skinny dip and who knows what else later on, the couple graciously excuse themselves from the party and go home early.

Unlike Roxy, who sneers that their departure is because they're "no fun", I commend Graham and Kara for behaving in a manner befitting of their age and what should be their maturity level. It's fine to be young at heart, playful and curious until the day you die, but there is also nothing wrong with acting in accordance with the natural order of things. There is nothing wrong with growing old gracefully and retiring from the silliness and impetuousness of youth, while savoring its memory and moving forward to develop mind, character and soul.

There is nothing wrong with embracing the pleasures and facing the challenges unique to each new season of one's life. There is nothing wrong with surrendering to the inevitable flow and progression of time and accepting mortality before passing on, being put to rest or called home (depending on your belief system). Basically there is nothing wrong with humility. Our wisest philosophers and saints would even say it's an essential trait of the divine. 




You can lose sight of this basic truth if you spend too much time focusing on the outward appearances, successes, indulgences, excesses and sins of the material world. Displays of humility, however, are the last thing you can expect to see on a television program like The Real Housewives of Toronto. 

Joan certainly doesn't exhibit any humility, other than feigned humility, as she drones on about private islands, compounds and "the help". It's important to hire well so the stress is taken off her, Joan informs us, "because at the end of the day, it's kinda all about me". She's "joking" of course, but it's a disingenuous "joke" in the same vein as her humble-bragging.


"We bought an island just because it was available," says the "great" humanitarian Joan Kelley-Walker.
"God has given you one face and you make yourself another,"
replies the Great William Shakespeare.
You also are not going to see much in the way of aging gracefully on a series like this. Ann has achieved great heights in her life, but there's an artificial veneer to her that no mortal human being can keep up forever. 


Plastic Surgery Queen, Ann Kaplan Mulholland, on the importance of being properly prepared in life:"In Muskoka, you have to be ready for anything...private dinners, cocktail parties...you never know who's going to see you on a jet ski!" 

Either your body will crumple or your mind under the weight of such phoniness. And sure enough, after all her fillers, Botox, silicone, gel, dyes, potions, lotions and magical spells have had too much time simmering under the hot sun, Ann feels faint and has to lie down. Plastic faints melts in direct heat.



Not only is it impossible to avoid the ravages of time no matter how skilled your cosmetic surgeon, it is also impossible to get away indefinitely with putting on airs, exaggerating your achievements, embellishing your strengths and pretending you are something you are not. Other people see through that bullshit. Kara elevating her role as volunteer worker in Ecuador to white saviour and triage nurse is a prime example of this. 


"It's so funny! The people in South America are sooo respectful," Kara giggles (wealth inequality is so cute!). Later when asked what kind of training she had to undergo to become a triage nurse in Ecuador, Kara in hypomanic mode, turbo-babbles: "Well, it was the BEST training, my husband took me to the store and 'said dress for the job you want!" So she picks out scrubs, a stethoscope and "a blood pressure" and that was her training. "I might not have medical training," she giggles, "but I had the right outfit!". 

Even Joan sees through Kara's nonsense...although, easy there, Joan, you aren't fooling anyone with your pretensions, either. I realize this probably has more to do with my own hangups, but as far as I'm concerned, Joan looks like an idiotic middle aged woman desperately trying to be the young woman she is not, as she stiffly bounces up and down crammed in on the dance floor. At least we didn't have to be subjected to Donald doing this. 

Jana and Grego, although they are also hard for me personally to watch without cringing, still look like they can pull off the frat party vibe without coming across as totally desperate. However, the timer is ticking for these ladies as well. Tick tock. The grim reaper waits for no one and Mother Nature is not mocked.



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

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