You'd think from the opening credits that Real Housewives of Atlanta was a show about some of the most successful women in the country.
- NeNe Leakes: "I don't keep up with the Joneses, I am the Joneses."
- Lisa Wu-Hartwell: "If it doesn't make me money, I don't do it."
- Sheree Whitfield: "People are intimidated by my success."
- Kandi Burruss: "I'm an independent woman, doing it for myself."
- Kim Zolciak: "In Atlanta, money and class do give you power."
Bravo's Real Housewives series have always revolved around wealthy women leading the good life in exclusive subdivisions. The implication of "housewives" is of course that their husbands' earnings fund their white wine lifestyle. However, at this point it's practically requisite for each woman to pursue either a charitable or profitable endeavor over the course of a season. The finale tends to hinge on the drama of whether an event that promotes one of these endeavors will succeed.
But everything the Atlanta housewives try seems destined for failure:
NeNe (my favorite), started a foundation to help victims of domestic violence in Season 1, and even worked on a book about the subject with Lisa. But that book is nowhere to be found on Amazon, and Twisted Hearts doesn't even have a website. She and her husband were also evicted from her home last year. (She did just publish a memoir, though.)
Lisa always seems like the savviest of the bunch. She co-owns a real estate firm and runs three fashion design companies. But all of her businesses (Wu-Girl Designs, Hart2Hart Baby, and Closet Freak) are suspiciously absent from the web, and one of her homes was foreclosed on in August.
Sheree seems to have gotten her idea of how wealthy women behave by watching Dynasty. Aside from being rude to the help and talking to her trainer about how hot she is, you don't get the sense that she interracts much with the outside world. While the season ended with a successful fashion show for Sheree's clothing line, She by Sheree (btw, she doesn't sketch or sew) , the website features photographs of her but no actual products.
Kandi is actually a very talented singer and songwriter, with the Grammys to prove it. But her new album B.L.O.G., supposedly due to release on November 10, is nonexistent on Amazon and iTunes. The delay could be due to the untimely passing of her ex-fiance, but it still seems like the publicity from the show would have given her a boost. It certainly worked for housewives of the other cities.
Kim is the biggest trainwreck of all time, and she would be no matter what show she was on (in fact, she even crashed and burned on Are You Hot in 2003). I don't recommend investing in her wig company.
Aside from their failed projects, information always seems to surface that makes one doubt whether the Atlanta housewives were ever that rich to begin with.
Is Bravo just giving the people what they want? The appeal for viewers has never been to watch wealthy people succeed and be happy, but to watch them think they're better then us and then go act ridiculous. It's just that in wealthier groups of housewives, the failures are always social. (Being too late to a party, getting too drunk at a party, chewing your friends out at a party, etc.) In Atlanta, the social drama is often overshadowed by the real-life financial woes of the cast
So, I just have to ask: Why are the black housewives the ones who can't make their house payments?
Did the show's producers pass over more successful Atlanta residents in favor of a cast that would be more volatile (meaning trashier), and then fabricate their wealth to justify the casting? Is there a racism of lowered expectations at play when it comes to black women's success?
Or can we find inspiration in what they've overcome and applaud them for being daring entrepreneurs? After all, NeNe survived an abusive relationship and worked as a stripper to support her son. Lisa lost custody of her children to an abusive ex-husband. Sheree had a child at age 15. All three of them keep working to achieve the life they want. (Well, Sheree doesn't work so much as collect alimony and tell people what to do. But still.)
Even if Atlanta's "real housewives" aren't making it in the upper crust, I love some of them and love to hate others. It's honestly one of my favorite shows. But I can't help it -- I want all the black housewives to be able to pay their bills too.