The Real Housewives of Philadelphia
“It's five of the funniest women in Philadelphia comedy portraying five of the most awful, materialistic, and self-centered human beings ever to walk the planet. It is like watching a beautiful unicorn with diarrhea jump over a rotting pumpkin stuffed with money."
That’s a money quote from Alexis Simpson, one of the five stars of The Real Housewives of Philadelphia, an improv comedy show that spoofs the (in)famous Bravo television shows depicting rich socialites from a variety of cities much more vapid than our own.
For those who aren’t familiar, improv is short-hand for “improvisational.” At most improv shows, the performers ask the audience for a suggestion and then begin to riff. With “The Real Housewives of Philadelphia,” the girls ask the audience for a suggested title of the “episode” which is about to unfold.
At their debut performance, the characters spun a plot about a depressive Old City resident hoping to host a fundraising gala that would impress people who need to be impressed. Along the way there were petty jealousies, personal sabotage and the general awfulness that we regularly see on reality TV shows.
And while The Real Housewives of Philadelphia is absolutely hilarious, it also does have a pretty insightful subtext about life in the post-Real World age.
“I think it's uniquely American to believe that fame and fortune are just around the corner and that once fame and fortune are achieved, you will be happy forever. Reality television reinforces that falsehood. You can have a house like the stars on Cribs! You could be Paris Hilton's new BFF! You could be chosen by the Bachelor and find love AND a million dollars! And then all your problems will be solved,” Simpson said. “One of the things I like about the Real Housewives TV series is that it reminds me that money will not solve my problems. These women have so much, and they aren't any happier than I am."
So, who are Philly’s Real Housewives? There’s Ivanka, a Russian émigré who lives in The Great Northeast who claims that, “Cottman Avenue is my playground.” And Deenie, a pretentious professor who lives in University City and is an expert at the backhanded compliment. Plus Kitten, the standard South Jerseyan, complete with big hair and a sour attitude. And Veronica, the self-involved sad sack who spends all her drizzly afternoons in random Old City coffee shops. And finally, there’s also Maria, a family-obsessed South Philly native who no doubt understands the meaning of “2 Street.”
But for the many fans/haters of the Bravo shows, they’ll recognize what they’re watching.
“The Philadlephia housewives are heavily influenced by the women featured on the show. I think you could look at any of the characters and you would recognize something from the Bravo series. For example, a recurring trait I've spotted is the delusion some of the wives have that they are above the pettiness of social climbing or material things,” Simpson said. “Lady, if you're not really into the whole New York socialite scene, why are you on a cable reality show party-hopping and gossiping about Page Six HILARIOUS!"