I was one of those women who had my babies when Vicki Iovine’s Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy and all of the spawn books which followed it were super popular. Like, her first book came out when I was swollen with my second child, in 1995. Since I’d already read my one-book-per-year at that point, I didn’t read her pregnancy book. The one I chose to read was the insipid What To Expect When You’re Expecting, which, by the way, made me feel like a fine failure after I read that “excessive crying rarely lasts beyond the first month. Consult with your pediatrician.” Oh, and this one: “Some women find that having an orgasm during sex is difficult during the later months of pregnancy.” Because, mother-effing colic, and I was (and still am, if you’re into TMI) one of those women who had never, ever had one during “normal” sex without major assistance. Add pregnancy hormones, 50 pounds and a fetus to the mix and guess what? A miner’s helmet, a sex toy made by Dyson and a randy octopus armed with a barrel of lube wouldn’t have helped.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby and then nobody comes. Oh wait, that’s wrong. What happens next, for some of us, is after the babies show up, so does a younger co-worker or a naughty neighbor lady or an addiction to drugs, booze or online gaming, or some other distraction and then comes…DIVORCE. Mine was due to the co-worker. I was a SAHM to four kids who were 6, 9, 11 and 12 when all the shit hit the fan. No, I didn’t see it coming and no, I don’t want to hear all the ways I could have prevented it. That ship has sailed, and hopefully nobody noticed that I tampered with their lifeboats.
So, you can imagine my delight when I discovered that Vicki Iovine was also divorcing! Alas, she didn’t write a book about it, which was okay since I’d already devoured my two-books-per-year at the point (you get an extra book a year after the kids learn how to wipe their own butts). And then, Bravo announced their new scripted series based on Iovine’s split. I was in heaven! Finally, a show that would pull the pants down on the divorce beast and show everyone the real nuts and bolts.
One fine weekend, when there were no practices or games or concerts or teenage drama to referee, I shook up a martini, sat down on my dog-hair covered couch and had a Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce marathon.
I laughed, of course, because I was buzzed from the martini, but also because some of it was funny. I crinkled my brow and made a sad face because some of it was sad. But mostly, I shook my head because it was so completely, totally, UNREALISTIC. Yes, I know, the basic premise of divorce is pretty much universal: a marriage ends. And yes, I know, this is Bravo, home of the Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules and Million Dollar Listing. And yes, I know, this is television, not real life.
But come on. Maybe this is how the One Percent divorces. For those of us in the real world? Things go a bit differently. Here are some of the biggest discrepancies:
Girlfriend’s Guide Divorce: Her husband is cheating on her. With a hot twenty-something CW actress.
Realistic Girlfriend: Her husband is cheating on her. With a co-worker. Or a person he met online while playing video games in the basement. Or with porn. Or maybe a bottle. Might even be one of her friends.
Girlfriend’s Guide Divorce: All of her friends are divorced. They guide her through it.
Realistic Girlfriend: She’s one of the few divorced women in her circle of friends. Some of her friends are afraid they’ll catch her icky Divorce Disease and pull away. Some of them are awesome, though, and stick around. They help her through it.
Girlfriend’s Guide Divorce: One of her first post-divorce lovers is a father at her children’s posh private school. He’s a famous screenwriter.
Realistic Girlfriend: One of her first post-divorce lovers is a guy she found on eHarmony. He drinks four Manhattans on their first date and brings along his CPAP machine “just in case this goes well”.
Girlfriend’s Guide Divorce: She writes an article for Huffington Post Divorce and is made Senior Editor.
Realistic Girlfriend: She writes an article for Huffington Post Divorce and three angry men in the comment section remind her that “75% of all divorces are initiated by women!”. But she gets a bunch of new followers on Twitter, which is cool.
Girlfriend’s Guide Divorce: The uniform of choice for this pack of divorced women consists of crop tops, skinny jeans and Birkin bags. They drive luxury SUVs and live in mulit-million dollar mansions.
Realistic Girlfriend: The uniform of choice for this pack consists of Target couture and well-loved Coach bags they bought ten years ago. They drive minivans or economy cars and live in either their marital homes with a mortgage they worry about paying or a rental. And they still worry about paying the rent sometimes.
Girlfriend’s Guide Divorce: She loses her shit at one of her book readings and says out loud how much easier it would be if her ex had just died. Someone records it, the video goes viral and she comes very close to ruining her career.
Realistic Girlfriend: Doesn’t ever say this out loud.
Bottom line: this show is wonderful escapism. Nothing more, nothing less. And really, how many of us would want to watch a show depicting the soft, white underbelly of a realistic divorce? Would I have made a martini and hunkered down to watch a woman who looks like me trying to keep four teenagers fed or crying in her pro-bono attorney’s office? I might have. I did watch Boyhood, after all.
Here’s what I think: let’s wait until Amy Schumer gets married, has kids and then gets divorced. She’ll kill it.
Until then, I’ll be here on my dog hair covered Ikea couch, dispensing realistic divorce advice and watching how the other half divorces on Bravo.
Carry on, girlfriends.
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