You’ll hate to admit this, but we all became Real Housewives in 2020.
Not the aesthetically-enhanced, designer-clad wives who star in the reality franchise set in New York, Beverly Hills and Cheshire etc. No, we were the schlochy grey-rooted, pyjama-wearing house fraus seen in Mike Leigh films – and some of us even appeared on the news in this apparel while clapping for the NHS.
There were no lunches at The Ivy or cocktails at The Connaught for us, just an Osem soup wolfed down between dusting, washing and Office Team meets on the PC.
Some brushed up for those doorstep portraits with the amazing Adam Soller but, encouraged (ordered) to stay in, all we could do was dream of 2019 BC, when we went out to work instead of applauding by the gate and chanting:
Wake, Vent, Clap Repeat
Has Hancock got it wrong?
Sleep, Cook, Eat, Repeat
This year has gone Pete Tong.
We also watched a lot of telly, returning to old favourites and guilty pleasures, which for me was the Real Housewives. Imagine my delight, then, when in the midst of this interminable malaise, a new Housewives strand appeared.
Yes, just as I tired of rewinding NYC’s Bethenny Frankel – along came Meredith Marks of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City (RHOSLC).
Immaculate and smoothly coiffed despite the frozen temperatures, one can only wonder how this Jewish jewellery designer wound up in the Wasatch mountains of Utah. Don’t most females of the faith avoid dipping their Louboutins in snow?
“Well, I’m originally from Chicago,” says Meredith, with an accent worthy of her roots. “Up until very recently, I was living between there and Utah, but since violence ensued in Chicago with all the protests, I really haven’t spent any time there. It’s been heart-wrenching to watch.”
Now, only Meredith’s husband, Seth, commutes back and forth, as it was his work that first took the family to Salt Lake City 10 years ago. However, much like the terrain they inhabit, theirs is a rocky 24-year marriage, about which they make no secret, from episode two when they announce a split.
So did Meredith really want her spiralling union aired internationally to millions? “Honestly, I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into. I’d not watched a tonne of reality television prior to this and usually put on the news. So I got a quick lesson basically watching one episode from each US franchise prior to filming.
“In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the best way to go about it.”
Had she only asked, I would have told her that every eye roll and blistering row would now be fodder for the fans who invest in the housewives’ humdingers.
On the upside, she gets to parade and position her fine jewellery, bags and accessories to an aspirational audience who can visit her Park City store or buy online (www.meredithmarks.com). All the housewives have collectively made a mint over time with endorsements and signature branding, but Utah is a long way to go to meet the sassy Salt Lakers.
Home to the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, aka the Mormons, the area is known mostly for raising the Osmonds, but that was the 1970s.
While it’s an appropriate location for the baptism of fire that is reality TV, what is it like for this fine arts major and her Jewish family?
“It’s completely different to Chicago and other cities I’ve lived in in America, but Utah has a unique culture,” insists Meredith, who has three children: Reid, 23, Brooks, 21, and Chloe, 19. “They’re all thriving and incredible – I could not be more proud.”
Spoken like every Jewish housewife/mother, and she also informs me that
Salt Lake is “more religiously diverse than you imagine” and there is a synagogue in Park City.
“I’m definitely very in touch with my Judaism in a cultural and historical way and I am so proud to be Jewish.”
As a footnote, Reid, who works in New York, was on the Team Chicago 16-and-under basketball squad at the JCC Maccabi Games in 2013 and Brooks, who is gay, has already announced his fashion line on RHOSLC. Why wait would be my attitude, too, after a year like this, so if they ever make Real Housewives of Barnet I’ve got the childrens’ book, knitwear line and a singing daughter ready to market.
Until that happens, Keep Well.
Be Safe. Repeat.
• Real Housewives of Salt Lake City is on Hayu
Final shout out for the year for Izzy Stream, where you will find Shira Haas in the short film Lost & Found and the warm and consuming drama series Where Do You Live? (Eifo Ata Hai? starring Rivka Michaeli, which is about Israel’s Bukharan community and its struggles with a traditional life and building a new one. Think of it as Central Asia’s Shtisel.
Men in Black
Just when you thought Israeli television couldn’t get any more addictive, along comes The New Black (Shababniks).
In what could loosely be described as American Pie meets Yentl, this comedy-drama created by Eliran Malka and Danny Paran is about four hip, happening and sometimes struggling Orthodox students trying to master their mojo.
The New Black is definitely green in Israel, where it has gone ahead in the ratings and picked up four television awards. With actors who look as good as Daniel Gad, Meir Sabag, Dov Lazer and Gedaliah, the appeal of these young men in black is not surprising. Take a good look at their good looks in The New Black at ukjewishfilm.org and tell me I’m wrong.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.
By Joe Millis