Editor's note: Comedian Sabrina Jalees and I go waaaay back, to the much smaller blogosphere of 2005. We still keep in touch and Sabrina kindly agreed to contribute an occasional post to Media Orchard. Here, she provides lessons on marketing yourself, Real Housewives-style.
Spin-offs of The Real Housewives of Orange County have been popping up like Starbucks locations -- from New Jersey to Dallas, Miami to Vancouver. While David E. Kelly slaves over creating believable dialogue in his latest series, Bravo’s found a foolproof formula:
Wine + Oversharing Rich Ladies = Ratings.
Of course if the formula were that simple, my web series “Watch Me Drink Chardonnay And Shop Online” would have cracked the 12-hit mark. The reality is, the Real Housewives are doing a lot of things right.
They may be a bunch of loud-mouthed, privileged, liquored-up drama queens…but miraculously, they’ve got us right where they want us. All the eye-rolling in the world can’t trump one undeniable fact: these ladies know how to engage an audience.
Coming to a City Near You?
If my Starbucks analogy is on point (and my analogies are famous for their accuracy), within a few years, there’ll be an R.H. series for every city. Hey, maybe even two for some cities; in New York, The Real Housewives of The Upper East Side can face off for ratings against The Real Housewives of Chinatown. Dumplings will be thrown, lawyers will be called.
Since the demand for housewives is about to hit the mansion’s roof, I want you, dear reader, to be prepared.
So here it is: A Step-by-Step Guide to Acing A Real Housewive’s Audition:
1. Stumble into the casting room wearing one stiletto. Throw the other into the waiting room as you enter, yelling something about how “no one disgraces my family’s name! No one!”
2. Show a (brief) glimpse of sanity to the producers. Tilt your head and laugh quietly. Show your vulnerability by sharing a story from your childhood that most people would keep in the vaults (say, that time you peed your pants and covered it up by using a hand dryer). Then, close your eyes for one long, slow-motion blink and scream, “Are you questioning my ethics?!”
3. Flip a table.
4. Sit down calmly and tell the casting directors that you feel much better now. Explain that your life would not be worth living if you weren’t constantly tangled in a web of shocking, embarrassing and/or unnecessarily extravagant events. Invite them to your estranged son’s $800,000 Sweet 16.
5. Flash a smile. Then, flash your panties.
6. Get an “urgent text from Kim Kardashian.” Shove as many loose pens and office supplies in your purse as you can while you scramble out of the room.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll be cast quicker than you can say, “stop pulling my hair or I’ll cut you with this broken bottle of champagne!”
Yes, There Is a Moral to This Story
Of course, I realize not all of you are interested in morphing into the next Nene. Some of you are surprisingly more comfortable on your end of the TV.
Nevertheless, it’s undeniable that in the age of Facebook statuses, live tweets and 24-hour surveillance cameras hanging above our beds (I'm currently shopping this last idea), people and brands increasingly bear a striking resemblance to reality-show performers.
It may make you cringe, but sharing the small stuff online does build a more relatable persona. This can be a good thing for your business or career -- if managed with an understanding of the desires and expectations of your intended audience.
One lesson we can all learn from the Real Housewives is that there’s nothing very engaging about perfection. If the show's episodes depicted a happy group of flawless friends, sipping on wine and complimenting each others’ manicures, no one would watch it -- or talk about it.
And you can be pretty sure that Bethenny Frankel would not have gone from reality-star endorser to Forbes magazine cover girl – selling her Skinnygirl cocktails line to Beam Global for $120 million.
The lesson is: be bold enough to expose your flaws. Don’t just post about sunshine and rainbows; humanize yourself by exposing and reacting to the storms life serves you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for an appointment with my tweezers and an ingrown toenail.