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Do ‘Real Housewives’ Make Real Friendships?

Do 'Real Housewives' Make Real Friendships?It seems like there is a growing segment of the population who makes a weekly date (or, in some cases, multiple weekly dates, depending on how many versions they follow) with their DVR or with groups of friends to watch the “Real Housewives” television show phenomenon.

I have seen enough episodes to ask the question, “Why?”

What draws people to watch faithfully every week or watch every series every week? What satisfaction is had by watching women backstab each other, trash-talk each other behind each other’s backs, steal each other’s men, lie and manipulate others for attention, and flaunt their excessive lifestyles?

In short, what is to be gained by watching women treat each other so poorly?

This type of show seems only to feed the drama and stereotypes often associated with female friendships. Somehow it has become “entertaining” to watch women beat each other up mentally, emotionally, and in some cases physically each week in the “entertainment” boxing ring.

In an effort to learn more about the appeal of the “Real Housewives” antics, I started to wonder if those addicted to the show related in any way because of their own real-life friendships. Do the most loyal fans watch to find out why these women behave the way the do, or do they watch because they can resonate with them or find aspects about the “characters” they relate to or even secretly admire in some cases? Loyal fans have their favorites and in most cases fans seem to be drawn to the most outrageous, vindictive, and despicable woman among the group.

Some fans argue they watch the show because it is like a train wreck that they can’t help but watch. However, the difference between a train wreck and the “Real Housewives” is that unlike a train wreck, which is a horrible accident, the “Real Housewives” is a horribly staged event with the sole intent of setting women up to knock each other down.

So for all of you who Real Housewives fans, I challenge you to take this mini-quiz to see how your real-life friendships stack up to the ones on this widely popular show.

  1. Do you spend most of your time with your friends gossiping and judging other friends or people in general? Or do you find the time you spend with your friends is often spent listening to them gossip about and judge other people?
  2. Do you gossip about your friends behind their backs rather than talk to them directly about something that’s bothering you or about some ongoing conflict? Or do your friends gossip to you about friends they are having issues with versus talking to that person directly?
  3. Do you get defensive if a friend tries to communicate to you their feelings or take it as an insult or criticism? Or do you find that when you try to talk to your friends about something they said or did that upset you, they react in ways that make you feel like you did something wrong and even some cases they stop talking to you?
  4. Do your loyalties shift depending on which friend you happen to be with at the moment? Or do you find your friends’ loyalties seem to shift depending on who they are around?
  5. Do you find you have very little to say to a friend if you aren’t gossiping about another friend or passing judgment on others in general? Or do you find your friend has very little to say to you other than sharing gossip or criticisms of others?

If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it may be time to take a closer look at the quality of your friendships, and even how your friends would rate you as a friend. Are these the type of friendships you want to put your energy into, and is this the type of friend you want to be considered as by others?

If you are guilty of any of these “Real Housewives” types of behaviors, it is pretty safe to assume that the ones you are exhibiting this behavior with are doing the exact same thing with the other “housewives” in your group when you are not around.

Do ‘Real Housewives’ Make Real Friendships?

Merrily Sadlovsky, MSW, LCSW

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APA Reference
Sadlovsky, M. (2018). Do ‘Real Housewives’ Make Real Friendships?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 6 May 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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