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Archive for Tuesday, May 12, 2009

‘Housewives’ reach bottom of the barrel

May 12, 2009

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In the first two minutes of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” (10 p.m., Bravo), we watch Teresa try on clothes and underwear that might give Liberace pause while fending off suggestions from her “friends” to get breast implants. The women on this show talk about their breasts a lot. And that’s the least of their problems.

Teresa’s husband’s construction business allows her to drop $120,000 on faux-rococo furniture without batting a fake eyelash. She’s aware of the bad economy. “That’s why I buy with cash.” Teresa is probably the most well-adjusted of the group.

Caroline claims to be an old-fashioned mother. She’s so protective of her family that she urges her son to open a “classy” strip club. Her baby sister, Dina, runs her decorating business out of Caroline’s husband’s wedding hall. She would like to play tennis well, but her breasts keep getting in the way.

Her best friend Jacqueline is a Jersey girl by way of Vegas. And she’s the most conservative dresser of the group. An idealist who sees the best in people, she cultivates a friendship with Danielle, a feral creature in her mid-40s obsessed with her body and the fact that she was the first woman in the Garden State to receive an American Express Black Card. She only said “I do” to her ex-husband after getting engaged to 19 other men. Apparently, the 20th time is the charm. Except when it’s not.

All vestiges of ethnicity, religion, education and culture have been extracted from “Real Housewives” — yanked out and discarded like some unwanted cyst. Too depressing to rise even to campy distraction, this trash-fest may mark the outer limits, or the bottom of the barrel, for this popular Bravo franchise.

l The “Frontline” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) special “The Madoff Affair” chronicles investors from the smallest fish to the crowned heads of Europe who just couldn’t say no to the convicted con man’s investment schemes.

One rather colorful associate from the old days convinced himself that it was “God’s will” for Bernie Madoff to bring in so much money. How nice of God to come through.

While small investors had various explanations for their delusion and fancy hedge funds were given big incentives for their collusion, the SEC had no excuses. “Frontline” provides a timeline of red flags and warnings about Madoff sent to the SEC dating back to the 1990s.

Tonight’s other highlights

• A winner emerges on “Biggest Loser: Couples” (7 p.m., NBC).

• The top three compete on “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox).

• The founder of Massive Dynamics (Leonard Nimoy) appears on the season finale of “Fringe” (8 p.m., Fox), recently renewed for a second season.

• Meager returns prove mystifying on “Deadliest Catch” (8 p.m., Discovery).

• Hannah’s boyfriend vanishes on “Without a Trace” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Ruminations on 9/11 evoke different reactions on “Rescue Me” (9 p.m., FX).

• “Crips and Bloods: Made in America” on “Independent Lens” (9 p.m., PBS, check local listings) looks at the cost of a gang war.

Cult choice

The Wachowski brothers’ (“The Matrix”) long-anticipated and visually dazzling 2008 adaptation of “Speed Racer” (6:45 p.m., Cinemax) divided critics and repelled audiences.

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