Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Real Housewives of NJ- Bravo's Top Series Sparks Major Talk About Negative Portrayals of Italian Americans in the Media.

Who watched the Real Housewives of NJ last night? Well apparently a lot of people did, it was one of the highest rated 'Real Housewives' ever! So, what sparked the interest of so many to watch? Hmmmm. I admit, I watched. I watch the series for the other cities too and will admit its a bit of a guilty pleasure. I was concerned about this particular series in NJ, because of course a lot of talk emerged about the individual women and their Italian American backgrounds and immediate stereotype to a Soprano-esque style show. Now, I don't think these ladies live any differently than other affluent women who like to spend, gossip and hangout, as we've seen on the other "Real Housewives" cities. What Italian Americans should be concerned about is the fact that a network is capitalizing on not particularly saying Italian American, but attaching a stigma to New Jersey Italian Americans, of which some of these women happen to be. OK, so what if someone has a shady background and they decide to do a reality show, do you have to promote show as if it were the Sopranos? Of course they do, the stigma sells.

Let's discuss for a second-- the Sopranos was a drama, fictional series. Tony Soprano is not real. OK, now that we have that out of the way, I have to say...putting a negative stereotype or insinuating negative connections sells that network viewers and big bucks in advertising. The cast mates and the viewers are going to be taken for a ride while network execs laugh all the way to the bank on the Italian American's expense. These women from New Jersey are just being themselves, but the work of creative producers/writers, editors and network executives creates the larger negative stereotyping picture that the masses get sucked into. Its a formula.

Again, remember this is my opinion, but its something to think about.
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