Weathering a Recession With the Real Housewives

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The various editions of The Real Housewives each have their own unique elements, but one consistent thread running through all of them has been the emphasis on wealth and conspicuous consumption. The women generally live in million-dollar homes in exclusive suburban communities, and individual episodes have featured housewives taking luxurious vacations, hosting extravagant parties, and buying cars, boats, and jewelry. But when the financial collapse of 2008 brought on an era of bankruptcies, unemployment, and foreclosures, the Real Housewives were not immune. During the fifth season of the Orange County edition, episodes focused on Tamra and her husband selling their dream home to avoid losing everything; Lynn’s family downsizing to save money and then getting evicted after falling behind on rent; and Jeana selling off possessions to pay bills and eventually leaving the show to rebuild her faltering real estate business.

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