Watching the train wreck that is season two of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta is really starting to rub me the wrong way. Yes, the antics and absolute scripted dramas got me going for a hot second, not unlike the scandals and micro-dramas of other reality TV shows (typically in the vein of Project Runway, for example).
However, we must consider this: most of these “housewives” are not married. The last time I checked, a wife was a woman physically, spiritually, financially and legally joined to a man who has formally committed himself to her for the rest of his days. This is usually done before a body of witnesses and typically entails a ceremony.
That said, they may be lying up in the house, but they aren’t anyone’s wife.
On The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kandi Burruss, the singer of Xscape fame, is unmarried. Sheree Whitfield, whose only “success” came via the NFLer whom she recently divorced, is unmarried. And Kim Zolciak, the token white woman on the show, is linked to a sugar daddy mysteriously called “Big Poppa.”
NeNe Leakes is married to a brother-man a number of years her senior. And Lisa Wu Hartwell is married to an injured NFL player who hasn’t played for a few seasons.
This show reminds me of real life in many ways, no matter how far removed it is from any realm of reality known to most of us. For example, these days, baby mommas are conflated with common-law wives. Moreover, people who are engaged for umpteen years become placebos for the real thing. They call each other husband and wife playfully, like it’s cute. Then someone dies, someone leaves or otherwise exercises the options unavailable to married folks, and they cry wolf.
In fact, tattered and fractured relationships have so become the norm, that we have placed conventional labels on these incredibly conditional arrangements.
After all, like the rapper Common said, many black women can say that they’re mothers, but most can’t say that they’re wives.
If loose legs, broken promises, and unrequited obligations were really okay, would so many try to find a marital equivalent to describe their relationships?