The Battle of the 2021 Real Housewives Books
Fun fact, I love the Real Housewives. Love it. There's nothing better than the petty beef of women that I get to watch (and judge) from afar. There's no doubt that the franchise is now firmly ensconced in the reality tv (honestly, tv in general) hall of fame. 15 years ago, the women of Orange County came onto our tv screens and we're still going strong with multiple franchises.
With the anniversary, it was not surprising to hear that we were getting a behind the scenes look at the history of the Housewives. Yet, what was a surprise is that we ended up with two of them. If you know Housewives, then you know Andy Cohen. Cohen began as an executive on the franchise, but used the popularity of the show to engineer his own fame through his own show, Watch What Happens Live, which then turned into a book deal then publishing imprint. One of the books, Not All Diamonds and Rosé is published by his imprint. The other, The Housewives, is not. In this post, I am going to compare the two and suggest which I would recommend reading for fans. Though, if you are anything like me, you'll read both.
Not All Diamonds and Rosé by Dave Quinn is the "definitive" oral history of the housewives. If by definitive, they mean authorized and selective in its discussion of topics then it's definitive. If they mean a true tell-all then they are sorely mistaken. It's really evident that this book is published by Andy Cohen's imprint because while it goes over the events of the various franchises, it is never willing to interrogate the impacts of the Housewives or some of the more controversial moments. Case in point, The Real Housewives of Atlanta and it's controversial portrayal of Black women. There's little analysis of the importance and problems within the series. Instead they focus on discussing storylines. The book mostly feels like a really long recap of every single season of every single franchise. The most interesting sections are the beginning when they discuss the origins of the OC (the OG of the series) and, in later sections, how some of the other cities began as different shows. Unfortunately, the rest of the interviews are contradictory accounts of each season. At times, it's humorous and if you are a deep dive fan, you'll enjoy the way that Bravo attempts to spin some of the storylines in hindsight. But, for the uninitiated, it's better to simply enjoy the show.
The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives by Brian Moylan is the unauthorized account of the Housewives. Moylan began writing about the Housewives at the beginning of the series for a weekly Vulture blog. Unlike the Quinn book which is done as an oral history, The Housewives is a mix of behind the scenes info plus Quinn's love of the series. It's filled with fun anecdotes about where he was when he began watching, rankings of the tag lines, and little moments like that. It was done without the support of Bravo which results in a book that lacks the connection to the series and limited interviews with former cast members that were willing to take the chance of pissing Bravo off. It's a fun read, but you can tell that Quinn lost a significant amount of access which resulted in it being more of a memoir on why he loves the show. Again, worth reading as a fan but also lacks a concrete edge of enjoyment.
In the end, it would almost be better to combine the books because Moylan is more critical of the series imperfections but lacks access. Whereas Quinn let his interviewees dictate the way they told the story.
As a fan, I'm happy to have the books because the covers alone are fabulous but it's going to take some time to get the Housewives book that fans need and deserve.