This one needs to start with a confession.
After a long period of resistance to every geographical flavour of the franchise, this year I succumbed to the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. It’s easy to see how this happened. Take a solitary Saturday afternoon, a glass of wine, the reaching of my limit for the inexplicable obsession that I have for the trainwreck that is My 600lb Life and I’ve clicked ‘play’ on the RHOBH. From that moment I was entranced by all the things I don’t have – endless wealth, cough lozenge-sized diamonds, garage-sized shoe rooms and an entourage of household staff. Although I’ve managed to kick the habit, after being relentlessly worn down by these ladies’ ability to fight with each other for no reason, it’s left a fairly pleasant legacy in my new love of Rosé, having discovered that it has evolved somewhat from daggy 80s Mateus.
With the relentless mental search for my next blog topic keeping stepmother-life as front of mind as my love of carbs and cheese, the concepts melded into a question. If you created a gaggle of all the famous stepmothers in history, miked them up, fooffed up their hair and gave them some first world problems in an Real Housewives setting, how would they fare?
But firstly, let me introduce the participants:
- Hansel and Gretel’s stepmother. This lady was up against it, married as she was to a widowed woodcutter. She’d be endlessly compared to a tragic dead mother, times were tough in the woodcutting economy and forest life was no picnic. She decides that her stepchildren were superfluous mouths to feed and exerts a honeymoon-period hold over her new husband to persuade him to abandon the kiddos in the forest. The children run into another bad woman who wants to eat them, despite the fact her entire house is made of cake.
- Cinderella’s stepmother. Again, inclined to rampantly favour her bio kids over her stepchild, this lady enslaves her stepdaughter to a relentless regime of domestic duties and dull outfits. Cinderella defies all odds to be the chosen one at a ball where a handsome prince auditions new wives in something that is uncannily similar to today’s ‘The Bachelor’. She misses a pumpkin-inflicted curfew, loses a shoe but still gains a prince. The stepmother is left sans one housekeeper and still managing a gaggle of lazy and homely offspring.
- The Queen in Snow White. This lady has some issues. She starts down the well-worn path of subjecting Snow White to all the household chores and, disturbingly, seeks daily advice from a talking mirror. Once the talking mirror lets on that Snow White is the new goddess of the household, she orders her huntsman (because we all have one of those on staff?) to take her out in the forest and kill her.
- Such is Stepmother lore, it turns out that we have one lovable, kind stepmother for every three incarnations of pure evil. The last to join the cast of the real stepmothers of 2018 is The Sound of Music heroine, Maria Von Trapp from The Sound of Music. However unlikely we might regard the journey from the nunnery, to whiskers on kittens, to marriage into Austrian aristocracy, this is a lady we can totally cheer for. She not only has to take on the legacy of a dead wife, but a living breathing competitor for the affections of Captain Georg Von Trapp in the form of someone who is a dead-ringer for Grace Kelly. Still, she nails it.
Throw these chicks into a Real Housewives framework and here are some highlights of the first season.
- Hansel and Gretel’s stepmother and Snow White’s stepmother form an early alliance. They were inseparable once they discovered their shared appreciation of the value of good men – those who will accept a command to dispose of innocent children deep in the forest.
- Cinderella’s stepmother attributes Cinderella’s success, and her bio-daughters’ unrelenting spinsterhood, to the ability to fit into a very specific glass slipper. Her Real Housewife commentary relentlessly returns to shoe discussions, yet she’s not quite Adrienne Maloof enough in the RH franchise to launch her own shoe line. She lobbies the producers to get Sarah-Jessica Parker to make a guest appearance on the show. She has the hang of online shopping and develops an unhealthy obsession for the purchase of Jimmy Choos in three sizes. The other gals stage an intervention in her lounge room amidst towers and towers of shoe boxes. Cinderella’s stepmother signs on for a guest role in Hoarders.
- Maria Von Trapp schools Hansel and Gretel’s mother with two great reasons why she didn’t need to kick her stepkids out into the forest and subject them to the woman in a house built of carbs:
- Yes, they are a couple of extra mouths to feed, but the savings inherent in recycling curtains into outfits will go a long way towards covering the food bill.
- Finding a marketable skill (in her case the Von Trapp Singers) opens up countless opportunities to monetise your offspring. Maria alludes very subtly to the modern day version – Kris Jenner pimping Kim Kardashian’s early video work.
- Snow White’s stepmama is initially buoyed by the successful launch of her new raw food restaurant, devilishly named ‘The Poisoned Apple’, with a quirkily ironic red-carpet appearance by Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter and an organic Rosé-fountain. Now single, she struggles with Tinder due to trust issues engendered by the huntsman not doing his duty way back when. She also suffers from Imposter Syndrome and feels she has betrayed the wicked stepmother sisterhood based on her inability to kill Snow White with any of a suffocating bodice, poisoned comb or tainted apple.
In a get-together fuelled by Margaritas these gals lock in another season and vote in Stepmama#5.