Review: The Real Housewives of Cheshire
If you’re looking for a new guilty pleasure, this might just be it.
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"Let the spiders eat the spiders."
The only thing atypical about ‘The Real Housewives of Cheshire’ is that the majority of the women aren’t even from this county and one of them isn’t even married, let alone a housewife. Already this reveals the inevitable truth about most reality television shows: entertainment is valued more than authenticity. This new programme on ITV Be – shamelessly similar to their show ‘Ladies of London’ – presents the luxurious lifestyles of six women living in Cheshire (Lauren, Ampika, Leanne, Dawn, Tanya and Magali).
The programme begins with each woman attempting to have the most outrageous and memorable introduction; Ampika tells cameras “I’m not here to be played with, I'm not a little rag doll - I'll play with the toys, and when I'm done with you, I'll discard you.” This perfectly sets the precedent for an unsurprising mix of dramatic dinner parties and exaggerated tension. At one point Magali states “if she wants to go to war, I come to war” – the melodramatic nature of the show is perhaps the essence of its appeal. Conflict is always the cornerstone of reality television and there is plenty of it in this series. However, there is an added dimension in that the disputes presented are not limited to the six women themselves. For example, this episode explores the discord between Dawn and her daughter Darby. As the manager of her daughter’s girl band, Dawn is unashamed to admit her pursuit of perfection and her instinct to “tell it like it is”. This becomes the catalyst to a heated debate at Ampika’s disastrous dinner party on whether she should be pressurising young girls to lose weight. Fortunately, this is a point of redemption for many of the seemingly frivolous women; they show a sense of humanity in their disagreement with Dawn’s strictness and their disapproval towards provoking insecurity in young girls.
However, this sense of heart-warming humanity is short-lived. Ampika’s glamorous get-together quickly turns sour with rude complaints about the food and insensitive snobbery, particularly from Lauren who is very proud of the fact the she actually originates from Cheshire. In response to her elitism, Tanya justifies her choice to educate her children at state schools, brashly telling Lauren “I don’t want them ending up like you”. Not to mention the fact that Ampika employs two bashful young blokes to serve as topless waiters. I cannot think of anything more degrading: they were literally there simply to be some eye-candy. One of the women even admits that she is probably old enough to be their mother. A pivotal moment in the series occurs in this episode when Ampika has a sudden emotional breakdown at the dinner table, disclosing her vulnerability and isolation as the only one without a husband; later revealing a shocking truth in regards to her love life.
‘The Real Housewives of Cheshire’ is essentially an interesting but predictable spin-off of the many existing ‘Real Housewives’ shows. It is however, somewhat underserving of the title “Real Housewives” – as is the issue with many reality shows, the reality presented has to an extent, been pre-constructed and is often unduly glamorised. The series probably won’t change your life nor enlighten you very much but if you’re looking for a new guilty pleasure, this might just be it.