In a world seemingly teetering on the edge of total breakdown, it’s reassuring to know that somewhere two “housewives” are bickering over why one of them would wear a hat with fake dog poo on it.
That’s exactly what happens in the second episode of The Real Housewives of Dallas, the latest addition in Bravo’s long-running “Housewives” reality-show franchise and perhaps the guiltiest of all guilty pleasures on the TV dial — though it’s one where the guilt often outweighs the pleasure.
Debuting at 9 p.m. April 11, RHOD promises to be a similar festival of crass consumerism, plastic surgery, trash talk, shade-throwing, wig-pulling and wine-tossing that has turned the other “Housewives” productions into hits.
So far the franchise has touched down in Orange County, Beverly Hills, New Jersey, New York, Atlanta, Potomac, Md., and Melbourne, Australia. (The now-defunct Miami and D.C. versions, the latter featuring the notorious White House party-crasher Michaele Salahi, didn’t fare as well.)
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But because this one was filmed in North Texas, and — say it with us — everything is bigger in Texas, no doubt there will be lots of people tuning in across the area who would normally be as likely to watch a “Real Housewives” show as stab their eyes out with a branch of burning mesquite.
So here are eight things you need to know about RHOD:
1Everyone’s a cowboy and they shop at Neiman Marcus: The Dallas cliches run as thick as the traffic on I-35 at rush hour. In the first episode, we’re treated to shots of a cowboy riding a horse, longhorn cattle, a Botox session, gaudy jewelry, a Jimmy Choo shoebox and a mid-life-crisis-red sports car. And that’s just the first 20 seconds.
2The 817 doesn’t get a mention, and that may be a good thing: Some of that “Western” stuff they’re passing off as Dallas is really — get ready for it — Fort Worth. That is unless Dallas now has a cattle drive down the Katy Trail or Cattlemen’s Steakhouse has up and moved to Uptown. New Yorker Andy Cohen, exec producer for the “Housewives” franchise, will no doubt be haunted by the spirit of Amon Carter.
3It’s definitely not The Real Housewives of Cedar Hill: No matter where those filler visuals come from, the Wives themselves seem to live and play in a tight bubble that runs between Uptown Dallas, Highland Park, Lakewood and Las Colinas. Anywhere else in North Texas might as well be the far side of Mars. And don’t expect to see too many black, Asian or Hispanic faces.
4They’re not going to like this at the Shops at Legacy either: If Fort Worth is simply forgotten and taken for granted, at least it doesn’t get drop-kicked the way Collin County does. When LeeAnne Locken, the queen bee of the group, gets angry at some of the low-class shenanigans of her fellow Wives at a high-toned party, she declares in her best don’t-go-north-of-635 ire, “It’s a little Plano in here.” Mee-ow!
5LeeAnne is the new NeNe: The RH franchises always seem to have a “character” who is the center of that housewife universe. NeNe Leakes played that role in Atlanta. In Orange County, it’s Vicki Gunvalson — the self-declared “O.G. of the O.C.” For RHOD, it’s LeeAnne, who calls herself “the mouth of the South” and the arbiter of all things Dallas. She is the one who exclaims, “We are far from a hick town and I am far from a Southern belle!” And she’s on the lookout for any un-Dallas-like behavior from her RHOD frenemies. (BTW, LeeAnne was included in DFW.com’s 2011 Hot Issue, so we can say we knew her when.)
6Most third-graders are more mature than the Dallas Housewives: Which brings us to the other wives, specifically former Cowboys cheerleader Brandi Redmond and her best bud, Stephanie Hollman, whose tagline is: “I’m the girl next door, if you live in a big ol’ mansion.” They are the focus of much of LeeAnne’s Big D derision and, together, these two put the “scat” in scatalogical. Redmond seems obsessed with poo — to the point where she handcrafts a hat for the annual Mad Hatter’s charity event at the Dallas Arboretum topped with artificial dog excrement — while Hollman is inordinately proud of the fact that she can pass gas on demand. Needless to say, LeeAnne is not amused. It remains to be seen if the rest of America will be.
7Beware: The catty catchphrases are coming: The Atlanta housewives have proved themselves masters of quick quips and petty putdowns, some of which wormed their way into the culture. What RHOA fan can ever forget Sheree, after being told she needed to get herself in check, retorting with, “Who gon check me, boo?” It became a GIF, a T-shirt and an entry in the Urban Dictionary. LeeAnne seems to want to hop on that particular pop-culture train, judging from the preview at the end of the second episode, where she lashes out with, “If you bow [pronounced like ‘bow and arrow’] at me, I will bow back,” she hollers. “Bow at me!”
8Husbands are people, too: The spouses and partners of the Housewives sometimes end up as much a part of the show as the ladies. The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Joe Giudice is as well-known as his table-flipping wife, Teresa. And both were sentenced to prison for bankruptcy fraud. Apollo Nida of Atlanta made headlines when he too was sentenced to jail for fraud. On RHOD, questions about the hubbies and squeezes abound (though, so far, no one is jailbound):
▪ LeeAnne’s boyfriend, Rich, is a cop for the Dallas Police Department, and LeeAnne, who spends all her time doing volunteer/charity work, admits she’s far from wealthy. So exactly how do they run with the Highland Park rich dogs?
▪ Will Tiffany Hendra’s Aussie-by-way-of-L.A. singer-songwriter husband, Aaron, make it in Dallas (especially after he says, “I don’t even know if I like Dallas”)?
▪ Just how detailed is Travis’ daily to-do list for stay-at-home Stephanie so she can “make her money” in the marriage?
▪ Will Brandi’s man, Bryan, make his goal of being a multimillionaire by the time he’s 40?
▪ Will Cary Deuber’s plastic-surgeon husband, Mark, team with Real Housewives of Orange County plastic-surgeon husband Terry DuBrow, who also co-hosts the reality medical show Botched?
So many questions about RHOD, so little TV-viewing time. But the biggest one remains: Can Dallas’ reputation survive this onslaught of “Housewives”?