This is the first in a new series I am calling Reality Check Books, a place where I can make book recommendations specifically for stars of reality shows (and those who truly identify with them). In this column, I will discuss (admit) the shows I watch and then (with deep sincerity) I will offer a book prescription for their madness.
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 11: (L-R) Reality T.V. stars Kelly Killoren Bensimon, LuAnn de Lesseps, Jill Zarin, Bethenny Frankel, Ramona Singer, and Alex McCord attend "The Real Housewives of New York City" season 2 premiere party at Gilt at the Palace Hotel on February 11, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)
First of all, they are neither real, nor housewives. Discuss.
The “reality” is that I just can not figure out why I am so entertained and fascinated by The Real Housewives of New York. Is it that I get to feel smug, emotionally superior, that this is the sort of trainwreck I like to see? Do I love to see silly people in weird designer clothes get all riled up about who said what to whom and when? That would be horrible and terribly unenlightened.
These episodes are case studies in human psychology that blow the lid off Survivor. Everyone is utterly preoccupied and transfixed with protecting their egos, or hurting other people’s. They are the poster ladies for looking externally to what joy– real joy– can actually be. In one fell swoop Jill bought a $16,000 handbag and the next day went on BBC Radio discussing how she just “raised” $50,000 to improve an African community. Hmmm. This is the behavior that drives viewers to sit with jaws dropped at the hypocrisy of elite society which has been rightly reduced to sociological spectacle and cultural curiosity.
I think one aspect of the show that is so intriguing is the sheer lack of self awareness these ladies parade. They take “me” time to cosmic heights far beyond the realm of healthy self-care. Does LuAnn know how presumptuous and insensitive she appeared to be when talking to inner city girls about following their dreams (not of all them can be models and travel in exclusive circles in order to achieve this)? Does Alex know how sad her social climbing seems and how that looks to be an obvious demonstration of her intensely low self esteem? Does Bethenny realize that her preoccupation with herself and her ability to attract conflict is a reflection of her own inner conflict? Does Jill get that life is about more than parties, events, charities and shopping? Does Ramona understand that she has the emotional intelligence and maturity of a seven year-old? Does Kelly fully comprehend what a meanie she is?
The show is a social disaster area propped up by trendy restaurants, vacuous personalities, soulless conversation and silly emotional antics. It’s so unlike the trainwrecks of, say, press conferences during the Bush administration which had actual real-world ramifications. This is a lesson in manifesting prosperity and abundance in all of its incredible potential.
And just for the record, I don’t hate the rich. In many ways, I am the rich– not Rodeo Drive rich but I’m not at all adverse to accumulating that level of wealth. But screw $16,000 habdbags. That’s totally dumb.
So what is my book recommendation for the ladies?
They should try on Lynee Twist’s The Soul of Money. Twist, a global activist and fundraiser, has raised more than $150 million for charitable causes. Through personal stories and practical advice, she demonstrates how we can replace feelings of scarcity, guilt, and burden with experiences of sufficiency, freedom, and purpose. In this Nautilus Award-winning book, Twist shares from her own life, a journey illuminated by remarkable encounters with the richest and poorest, from the famous (Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama) to the anonymous but unforgettable heroes of everyday life.
The Soul of Money has changed my own view of my relationship with money and how it has affected every decision and nearly every aspect of my life. Twist challenges readers to understand their influence and purpose outside of the power we give to money. She also gives us historic perspective on how human beings slipped into a consciousness of competition, scarcity, limitation, status , power, greed and war (both internal and external) based on a system of profit and money that can be alienating and destructive. She takes the reality of money and turns it on its side to introduce a healing process that is life-changing.
Happy Reading, real housewives.