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Vancouver's Housewives: Rich, thin and ready to back-stab

The Real Housewives of Vancouver pose for a photograph in Vancouver.

DARRYL DYCK/DARRYL DYCK / CP

Did you catch The Real Housewives of Vancouver on Wednesday night?

No, not the ones doing the high-heeled daycare dash at 5:59 p.m. to avoid the overtime charges, or the ones folding piles of laundry at midnight so they can crawl in and get six hours of sleep before doing it all again tomorrow. These housewives premiered Wednesday on Slice in a two-hour show of lavish living: wine cellars, waterfront homes, Botox and nannies.

And, of course, cat fights.

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"Let the games begin," says Jody Claman, 48, a self-proclaimed "mamapreneur" with a catering company and upscale boutique.

Her fellow Housewives have other names for her: "bully," "bitch," "the queen of mean." They include:

Mary Zilba, 48, a former pop singer, now-single-mom living in a waterfront condo in Yaletown – and sleeping with her ex-boyfriend, who's now dating someone else, making her unpopular with Jody.

Ronnie Seterdahl Negus, 43, Mary's (supposed) BFF, who lives in a gated waterfront home in West Vancouver, complete with boat, jet skis and private tennis court. "I'm a domestic goddess/professional shopper/mother of five/wife/jet-setter."

Reiko MacKenzie, 37, a stay-at-home Shaughnessy mother of two who collects sports cars. "I'm living every woman's dream."

And Christina Kiesel, twice divorced by 29, single and looking, with her eye on the city's mining executives. "Vancouver is a gold mine and I love to go digging," says Keisel, now 30.

As a real housewife myself, I tried to be entertained rather than offended by this exercise in narcissism and materialism – a parade of super-thin women (at a reception ostensibly to try recipes for a cookbook, one consumes an entire olive) who are dressed to the nines.

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But never has the term "boob tube" felt more appropriate.

And even if you're not creeped out by Christina joking about hitting on the teenaged sons of the men she dates, or the hilarity over her BFF Kevin's $2,200 monthly bar bill, or Ronnie barking orders at one of her housekeepers ("We need the car detailed, I need my fingernails done ..."), it's kind of hard to accept the unapologetic focus on opulence in a city which has a serious homelessness problem, and where real housewives struggle just to pay the mortgage on ridiculously overpriced real estate.

Slice decided to go with a Vancouver show over Toronto, according to one casting consultant who tried to help recruit a Toronto cast, because the British Columbia girls were "hotter, richer and younger."

They certainly appear to be blessed with the ability to back-stab.

"Any time you get five women together ... it's not going to be smooth sailing," says Mary during the opening episode. And indeed, it doesn't take long for the fur-lined gloves to come off. During a supposedly spontaneous girls' weekend in Whistler, B.C. – which comes off as so contrived – the women sip trophy-wife cocktails and the friction begins: Ronnie is mean to Mary, there's talk behind Christina's back about her sex life while she's in the loo. Later, up on the mountain, Jody lashes out at Christina for marrying rich men instead of developing her own career, and at Mary for sleeping with her ex.

The show's catfights are real, according to Christina, fuelled by "copious amounts of wine and champagne" and five strong women with differences of opinion, she told The Globe and Mail in an interview.

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"The situations are real, the arguments are real, the drama is real, the tears are real. It's not scripted."

But those housewives? If they're real, what does that make the rest of us?

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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