As I've been doing the reading for Tuesday about soap operas and their implications for genre and gender, I can't help but think of the Real Housewives franchise. I am sure most of you are familiar with the premise of the shows which involve wealthy women from cities all over the United States who are thrown together in awkward social situations and various expansive displays of wealth and hedonistic pleasure despite not really being friends in "real life."
What made me think of the shows is Gledhill's use of the term "unchronicled growth" in which we think that the lives of the characters on the shows continue despite the shows not being on television at the present moment. In the case of the Real Housewives, their lives really are continuing because they're real people. However, the shows are heavily scripted and the women are told by the producers to say certain things or perform certain actions in order to incite squabbles or God knows what else. It could be said that there is some kind of story line or plot occurring, since the producers clearly have in mind specific scenarios they hope to see happen as a result of the pettiness and vanity of these women.
Also, these shows are geared towards a female audience, to be sure. You'd be hard-pressed to find a guy who's willing to sit through an entire episode without feeling acute pain. These shows are marketed as "real" depictions of "real housewives" across the country, from Beverly Hills to right here in DC that women are supposed to be able to relate to on some level.
That being said, do you guys think that the "Real Housewives" could be considered a soap opera? I think that Gledhill's arguments in Chapter 6 of Representation combined with popular knowledge about the shows and their premises makes for a pretty convincing argument on behalf of them being soap operas.