Ginia Bellafante writes in today's New York Times that The Real Housewives of Orange County reveals much about Orange County-style parenting.
Parenthood supplies a strange and fascinating dimension of The Real Housewives of Orange County, which increasingly feels like Mildred Pierce: the habit of indulging children materially, instead of making them go to the library or disciplining them, backfires with a spectacular regularity.
The women have very little idea of how most of their children got so messed up or unambitious or, in the case of Jeana's son, Shane, verbally abusive. When Jeana showed up uninvited at one of Shane's minor league baseball games, Shane told her she was lucky he didn't hit her with a bat. He then chastises her for being loud and even for talking too much.
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So how to cope with mommy's little monsters? Lynne--whose teenage daughter wasn't in school, wasn't working, had no interests and had no plans for college--supplied some tough love by buying the girl a $22,000 BMW for her birthday. Hey, it was used.
This is the parenthood-as-friendship model taken to the most pernicious extreme. Most of the mothers can't seem to differentiate between their own needs and desires and those of their children. Lynne's daughter showed up at her birthday party in a dress the size of a doorknob and was hurt to hear her boyfriend tell her, not enthusiastically, that she looked like a stripper. "I can't believe Randy said that about the dress at the party," Lynne told the camera later, "because it was my dress."
The Real Housewives of Orange County is, in the end, the brilliant, frightening, bizarre Cosmo guide to child rearing: 101 Ways to Have a Lazy Kid.
You're welcome, Orange County chamber of commerce!