Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Do-Good Reality Show??...

It's no secret that Bravo's The Real Housewives series is my new favorite soap opera, so when I heard the premise for Househusbands of Hollywood, I couldn't help but let out an exasperated: "About time!" Honestly, I don't know what took Fox Reality (or anyone, for that matter, Bravo included!) so long to capitalize on the success of their reality competitors' franchise. Whatever the reasoning, though, I'm definitely glad it's finally here now!

I may have something a bit more personal invested in this show than the average reviewer. My father, too, stayed at home with my while my mother went out to work at the butt-crack of dawn every day to bring home the bacon (and Godiva, as it were). Growing up in the eighties and nineties, it was far less common for this to be the case, and my father was quite often literally the only male present at my elementary school events-- such as field trips and assemblies. He even held the title of "Room Parent" for two years, during which they had to change the name from "Classroom Mother." My father has always had his issues, and one of them always seemed to be that he was somewhat embarrassed or ashamed that he was a "Househusband," so to speak. He came from the old-school line of thinking that cooking and cleaning were a woman's work after watching his own mother be the homemaker his whole life. A big part of him still held onto the stereotypical Italian machismo that puffed out his chest and got in my face when I suggested he couldn't keep a job, and that's why he ended up staying at home for me. I never really thought it was for my benefit-- especially when I was in junior high, coming home from school alone and able to care for myself in the afternoons, and yet he still didn't get off the couch to look for work and contribute to (or try to improve) our lifestyle. My family was not nearly as well off as those featured on Fox Reality's new show, after all. It is often a luxury to have one parent staying home full-time-- one that perhaps we couldn't really afford. These days, and living in the town that I do, though, it appears that such a practice is much more common and welcome than it once was, two decades ago and in a "old country" neighborhood.

What I love about Househusbands of Hollywood is that it is shot much more documentary-style than we have come to expect from these reality shows. What I mean by that is sure there are traditional interviews the way any of these shows have them, but the focus is not on drama and sensational. The show takes a look at the real men-- and the real women behind them-- and doesn't outright ignore but also doesn't glamorize the rough patches or tension that inevitably arise in any relationship. Perhaps as castmember Billy Ashley (yes, former Dodger Billy Ashley!) says himself, they are "making [their] own traditions."

Househusbands of Hollywood
introduces the audience to something that was at one time unconventional but is so much more loving and personal than hiring help. These guys, while sometimes frustrated with the bounds to their wives' schedules or routines, are all choosing to be there. They were not given an ultimatum, and they come from the kind of families that could easily afford to bring in a nanny. There is just something so refreshing about watching Grant Reynolds (ex-Marine and sometime-actor), for example, run around the house with his two-year-old. You take one look at the tall, tattooed, good-looking guy, and you know he could be successful at a million things (as could all of the guys in the cast). But the one he is deeming most important in this juncture in his life is raising his kid. And that is something that should not only be advertised but also admired and celebrated.

Househusbands of Hollywood
premieres on August 15th on Fox Reality. Channel Check back here in early August for my interview with the cast!

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