Abstract

Since 2006 The Real Housewives format has centered on nine different cities in the United States and eight cities outside that country. Every eponymous season showcases the lives of a group of high status women. Overt, knowledgeable consumption is the most obvious key feature of the format: the central access point for the lifestyle enjoyed by a “housewife” is her ability to tastefully spend significant amounts of money. This article deploys glocalization to critically understand the format, with a particular focus on the ways in which pedagogical ideas of femininity are encoded. Our analysis demonstrates the extent to which traditional, conservative values are valorized at the same time as the surface narratives supposedly demonstrate the independence and agency of the “housewives.” We conclude by postulating that the format might also demonstrate that the elite status these women enjoy involves that they deploy their agency as sexual beings to resolutely traditional, conservative ends.

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