Real Housewives Get Personal is reminiscent of MTV’s ’90s Real World books

If there was any doubt in my mind that The Real Housewives is the new Real World–or at least, The Real World for people who’ve outgrown the MTV show–it was erased when I read the new book about the Bravo franchise.

The Real Housewives Get Personal is a beautifully designed, full-color encyclopedia, basically, of all things Housewives, profiling the women from the first four seasons: O.C., New York City, Atlanta, and New Jersey.

And it is almost exactly like a book I still own: The Real World: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide. I remember buying it at Barnes & Noble in 1997, and burying myself in its pages. MTV released a few of these books, and they even included applications for the next season. It had some mild behind-the-scenes stuff, like Q&As with the cast and a timeline of a day of production in Boston. Just looking through it now reminds me of those early seasons that I loved so much. Of course, since it was an MTV book, it wasn’t exactly a critical examination, but it was totally a great way to look back at the seasons and get some new information in the days before the Internet fueled our need for this kind of information every moment.

The new Bravo book, published by Chronicle Books, is similar: It’s lightweight but fun, and while there’s nothing here a die-hard fan wouldn’t already know, nor is there anything that’d make Bravo look bad, it’s still a good overview of the cast and the seasons. Like the MTV book, has amusing infographic-like spreads (check out page 88; search for “maintenance”, like a list of parties thrown by the Atlanta cast members, and a chart asking “Who’s the highest maintenance?” among the New York women, illustrated with a syringe for Jill because of her Botox treatments. And there’s lots of great photos, including some of Kelly Killoren Bensimon that are truly odd. In 2010, I’m not quite sure who the market is for a book like this, but I know my pre-Internet self would appreciate it.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.