Real Housewives of New York City debuts tonight

Bravo extends one of its reality shows into a franchise tonight with the 11 p.m. ET debut of The Real Housewives of New York City.

Like its Orange County, Calif., counterpart, the show follows a group of women–Alex, Bethenny, Jill, LuAnn, and Ramona–who Bravo calls “an elite and powerful set of New York socialites” who have to “juggle their careers and home lives with busy calendars packed with charity fund-raising galas, the social whirl of the Hamptons, and interviews for elite private schools. These driven and ambitious women show everyone what it takes to make it in the upper echelon of society, where money and status are an essential way of life.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, New York-based critics are not kind to the series–but then again, neither is The Los Angeles’ Times Mary McNamara, who says the show “[is] porn, if not sexual then psychological. Here is a camera giving a mass audience glimpses of what, under normal circumstances, should never be glimpsed.” The New York Post’s Adam Buckman says the women “in no way represent the vast majority of women – married or single – whom most of us know.” The New York Daily News David Hinckley says the show “is as shallow as its subjects.”

The New York Times Alessandra Stanley is the only New York critic to dissent, saying the series “is an eye-opening look at the economic realities of New York at the dawn of the 21st century.” Then again, Alessandra Stanley is often criticized for not actually watching the TV she writes about.

Real Housewives of New York City [Bravo]