We TV is rolling out the fifth batch of its docuseries The Secret Lives of Women, which rummages through the dirty laundry of the fairer sex. Munchausen moms, phone-sex operators, and Wiccan priestesses reveal their unorthodox lives and the lengths to which they go to maintain them. There's no equivalent show for men, and if there were, even the title The Secret Lives of Men would sound silly. Men, it seems, don't have interesting secrets, and as TV fodder, they're worthless.
There's no better evidence than Fox Reality's new series Househusbands of Hollywood. It's a gender-flipped version of Bravo's eminently bloggable Real Housewives franchise, and on paper, Househusbands sounds like it could be compelling. How do these men reconcile their domestic roles with the societal pressure to be the breadwinners? I had those questions going in, but as I watched the husbands—former baseball player Billy, ex-Marine Grant, sometime actor Danny, etc.—I found myself wondering what their wives were doing. The supposedly funny moments, most of which have the husbands ticking off their "honey do" lists, fall flat. I would have more enjoyed watching them be pecked by actual hens.
The chasm in watchability between Househusbands and Housewives bears out what we've seen on other gender-mirrored reality series before. The Bachelor, fun; The Bachelorette, considerably less so. The View, worth making an appointment for; the short-lived The Other Half, worth making an appointment to do something else. One of two theories explains this: women's lives, opinions, and interactions are more fascinating than men's—or the women cast on reality shows are selected to hew to a mean-girl stereotype. Women such as the characters in Sex and the City— who are polished, professional, and can support another woman, rather than tear her down—exist in real life (though maybe in -quieter outfits). It would be nice to see what was going on in their lives, if they weren't too classy for a reality show.