So, if jump the shark is indeed getting long in the tooth (or two sets of teeth), what could succeed it as a way of describing an outlandishly fake and grasping, attention-seeking gimmick? How about “toss the leg”?
That’s as in “toss the prosthetic leg” -- the one with the hellaciously pricey Jimmy Choo shoe attached to the foot that "Real Housewife of New York City" amputee Aviva Drescher actually used as a projectile weapon on RHONY’s recent season closer. Apparently having the limb disengaged and at the ready, she hurled the latest designer accessory across the table at Le Cirque, in the direction of her fellow housewives, while announcing that it was the only “artificial” thing about her. (Changing the expression from “ladies who lunch” to “ladies who launch.”)
Where to begin? With the fact that Bravo actually promoted the shot of the well-shod device lying on the floor, poignant and bereft like a sad orphan, all season, so it was no great surprise? (But it was still a shock in this, um, well-heeled context.)
Or that the producers and casting execs apparently hired Aviva last year with the famous Chekhov line about the revolver in mind (If you see it in the first act, it has to go off by the third)?
Otherwise, she hasn’t contributed much to the story line, except for all her various complaints and neuroses, and the fascinating revelation that asthma can be caused by reflux. (Her disgusting, sex-crazed, X-rated father and creepy, sex-crazed ex-husband are another story.) But you see, I’m already getting in too deep.
I’m not proud that I know way too much about it, but by now watching has devolved into a guilty non-pleasure. And I swear I’m not going to continue. (Really, I mean it!)
I got pissed at Aviva when she and Carole Radziwill (a respected journalist and TV producer, who probably made a big mistake agreeing to be on the show at all), sunk to new lows by engaging in an epic on-camera fight. That’s when the single-limbed one, who probably lied about not using a ghostwriter for her own book, “Leggy Blonde” accused Carole of having a ghost for her books. Aviva maintained that writing her memoir in one summer was "easy," just like "writing a long email." And Carole, a real writer (and no housewife), burned.
A writers’ fight on RHONY? This was not only a “toss the leg” moment, it practically sunk the show and our entire civilization. Because as people have stopped reading books, celebrities are the only ones who get to write them.
Since it started in 2006, the whole franchise has become a
revolving door of narcissistic, ever-desperate, variously false-eyelashed, hair-extended, nipped-n-boosted contenders, all ready to put their crumbling marriages/ felonious or cheating
spouses/embarrassed children on camera in exchange for the promise of possible book/
fashion/liquor/music/underwear/handbag/microwave oven tie-in deals and the possibility of being worshipped. This makes watching the actual “reality” of the show rather tiresome. Also, they have learned from their predecessors that brawlers get more screen time. So if they are not monsters to begin with, these Housewives-come-lately all learn to play them on TV.
The series was actually misnamed from the start, as these characters were neither real nor housewives. The gold standard is Bethenny Frankel, one of the original "Real Housewives of New York" -- a single workaholic entrepreneur, a chef by training who barely eats but had a rabid appetite for work, fame and fortune.
After several seasons of filming, she was able to sell her SkinnyGirl Margaritas line of for $100 million. (It has since expanded considerably.)
Also during that time, viewers got the pleasure of seeing her sitting, pants down, on the toilet waving a pregnancy wand, freshly out of her urine stream, to announce to the cameras that she was pregnant. This augured a special wedding program, (she married the father, Jason Hobby) and a new family series, “Bethenny Ever After.” But the show was cut short as the marriage turned into an epic divorce battle. You’d think that the reverse fairy tale of Bethenny’s life would dampen the ardor of some of the others, but it has not.
Then again, “toss the leg” is an outgrowth of the scene that put the whole series on the map: “Toss the table” with Teresa Giudice, the New Jersey Housewife who overturned a table at a dinner with the force of ten men, while calling fellow Housewife Danielle a “prostitution/whore” in front of her children. Even Teresa, the mother of four daughters, would probably admit to not having a terrific grasp on the English language or grammar, but to the chagrin of writers everywhere, her books are on the bestseller lists of the The New York Times, and she constantly adds to her food empire. She needs to: she and her husband Joe have been indicted for tax fraud and other crimes in the off-season, and the pall of a possible prison term hangs over this season of the Jersey Housewives like a blingy sword of Damocles.
A cautionary tale? Never.
Indeed, Aviva understood that each episode has to have at least one table-tossing tentpole event -- and she, okay, went out on a limb. The promo material for her book says: “When Aviva was six years-old, she was in a farm accident when her left foot got severely hurt at a friend’s upstate New York dairy farm. A few months later her leg was amputated as a result of that accident. Aviva has never let this tragedy define who she is.”
No, she hasn’t. Except for having scene after scene on RHONY in which she talks about removing her leg to swim, or falls. In another episode, she is sent to have a pedicure. Then, of course, she came up with the projectile stunt as a way to deal with her fellow sharks.
But as Woody Allen said: “A relationship is like a shark. It has to keep moving. And what we have on our hands is, unfortunately, a dead shark.”
Actually, with RHONY, what we have on our hands is a dead shark, with a Jimmy Choo shoe on it. Indeed, there are enough last-legs joke to go around.
Whether she is a nightmare or just playing one on TV, Aviva is one cold fish. And the whole leg-toss has sunk the show, and the franchise. RIP, Real Housewives. You’ve got no more legs to stand on.