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September 14, 2012

The Real Housewives of Miami 2.0 gets off to a slow, rubbernecking start

The Real Housewives of Miami's premiere episode was as if the city of Miami went out on a long bender of stereotypes and spent the entire next day hurling over the toilet bowl. We've got the fiery Latinas, the smarmy, "wealthy" boyfriends, the boobs, the waterfront estates, the boobs, the models, and more boobs. As another housewife from another city famously said, "Money can't buy you class," and everyone knows that The Real Housewives franchise is to class as Teen Mom is to abstinence.

That being said, there are hints of class in some of the cast members, namely Lea Black, wife of famous attorney Roy and about whom many wonder what the hell she is doing on the show besides promoting her skin care line (or surgeon) that has obviously been very good to her. In terms of class, Black is truly out of her element. But we'll see if that remains so as the trainwreck starts careening out of control off the track.

With no need to do a recap of the dizzying, mostly dull first episode, it's easy to sum most of the women up: professionals (some, allegedly, in more ways than one) whose current, impressive (dentist, lawyer, publicist) careers obviously aren't enough to satisfy them. They want more. More money, more fame, and by golly, they will do whatever it takes to stand out on this show even if it means coming off as a telenovela cast off who got fired for overacting. And who can blame them, really? But to achieve fame, they'll need to do a whole lot more than re-Tweet fawning fan mail ("Team [Insert Name of Fave Housewife as If She's a Derby Horse or an NBA Franchise]" hashtag, excamation points) from lonely, celeb-obsessed followers sitting at home alone with their cats unable to get replies from actual celebrities. A root canal is really cool, but it's not going to get you on the cover of Us Weekly. There's the rub.

What will get them on the covers of any magazines (including Modern Science if it still exists) is the elephant in the room: Elsa Patton, a dramatic device of Shakespearean proportion and someone without whom this show could never survive. Call it exploitative, call it cruel, call it scary, but Patton is the Honey Boo Boo Child/Big Ang/Snooki of this franchise and everyone else has no choice but to, er, pale in comparison. No amounts of plastic surgery, implants or even money can compete. For better or for worse, this show needs her. And it is due to that rubbernecking reflex that this writer, among many others, will continue to watch even if it is up against Glee a show about, you know, talent.

Patton, incidentally, will be laughing her own way to the plastic surgeon's office bank: She, of course, now has her own coffee line and her own Bravo web series, both which go by the name Havana Elsa.

As for the general public's consensus, it was all about Elsa with some sprinklings of comments about model Joanna Krupa's beauty and the irony of her upgrading, not downgrading remark considering where she's making them--on a television "reality" show.

Bravo definitely missed the Miami boat by not starting this series years ago, when people still had patience to follow the vapid, insipid lives of "regular" rich folk. Like some of the women on this show, it's past its prime. Today, people would rather commiserate with the real "real" people, following the so-called white trash, wacked out woes of the working class. The women on Miami aren't working, they're just working it (some really, really, painfully hard)--something that's a little too late for the reality TV bubble. 

[Full disclosure: A few of the cast members on this show are this writer's personal friends and/or acquaintances]

Real Housewives of Miami premiere ratings: 1.066 mil viewers compared to NFL at 8.5m, Pawn Stars 2.2m, Project Runway 2m, Snooki & JWoww 1.5m (Source: http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2012/09/14/thursday-cable-ratings-thursday-night-football-tops-night-awkward-sullivan-son-snooki-jwoww-project-runway-impractical-jokers-more/148643/)