How would you feel if your mother sold out your privacy for a mere $3,333 an episode?
This, no doubt, is the question the children of The Real Housewives of New Jersey are going to be pondering for many, many years to come.
In the court paperwork relating to Real Housewife Teresa Giudice’s bankruptcy filing, it was revealed all the New Jersey housewives are being paid $3,333 per aired show. That sum of money isn’t even going to pay for all the future psychotherapy these kids are going to need.
After all, as Steve Almond pointed out in an essay recently published on Salon.com, the ever-elegant New Jersey housewives have suggested to other housewives that they “knock the shit” out of their children. They’ve also bad-mouthed the kids themselves, with housewife Caroline Manzo referring to the children of housewife Danielle Staub as “socially … awkward.” Danielle’s kids must have had a blast at school the day after that show aired. But Danielle certainly didn’t take any lesson from her children’s likely severe social embarrassment: in this week’s episode, she accused the daughter of housewife Jacqueline Laurita of harassing her via Facebook.
Now I firmly believe that if you wish to humiliate yourself on national television by tossing a coffee table at another woman while the cameras are rolling, that’s your business (not to mention the business of all those watching your filmed temper tantrum). But do you have the right to do that to your children? No doubt you are going to answer this question with a firm “of course not,” and tsk tsk over what bad mothers Teresa, Danielle, Jacqueline and Caroline are for offering their families up as entertainment in return for a brief shot at fame. But before you reflexively badmouth the housewives, ask yourself this: what does it say about most of us that we’re avidly watching a program that is likely causing serious harm to cast members too young to give legal consent for their own exploitation? Hell, they aren’t even being paid for it. Not even a measly $3,333.