“Real Housewives of Dubai” has just finished its first month on Bravo Television as the latest entry in Bravo’s Real Housewives series. The program that started about 20 years ago with “Real Housewives of Orange County" has become extremely profitable, but controversial.
An American-based international reality series, it has produced and distributed 12 installments in the US, and a few more from around the world, with “Housewives” in Australia, Britain and Greece.
From the first one about the women of Orange County (in California), the concept has been clear: it documents the lives of upper-class women who lead glamorous lives in a picturesque Southern California gated-community where the average home has price tag of about two million dollars. Residents there include top corporation presidents and directors, famous television and cinema stars, and rich retired professional athletes.
Dubai’s six Houswives are: Sara Al Madani, divorced, Emirati, who said she was a proud Muslim, but also a “fusion” between her culture and her rebellious personality; Chanel Ayan, born and raised in Kenya, who said she was Dubai’s first Black supermodel; British Caroline Stanbury who has lived in Dubai for seven years, divorced and remarried; Nina Ali, Lebanese American, the most beautiful among the six, and mother of three; Caroline Brooks, an African-Latino-American; and, Lesa Milan, a Jamaican-American, with a British husband and their three children.
The series has had two seemingly opposite responses – on one side, a large popular audience, and, on the other side, criticism from the elite. Built on old television “soap opera” series, like “Peyton Place” and “Desperate Housewives,” the shows have profited from expected human interests in the lives of the rich and famous.
The Dubai program is the first American-based but overseas-staged series and, therefore, has attracted many American comments, particularly in major television networks, magazines and newspapers.
An overwhelming portion of the responses were negative, for the clear reason of glamorizing the lives of the rich. But the responses were even more negative because the Dubai’s women were millionaires, living in a place that has become famous because of these very factors.
The only positive response in the major media outlets that were checked here, was on “Yahoo News,” by a Black commentator who praised the presence of three Black women among the six.
“The Daily Beast”: Jordan Julian: ‘Real Boring”:
“We’re devastated to report that ‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’ is tragically boring.
The ‘Housewives’ series have gone international, the first overseas iteration of the franchise to be produced by Bravo …
The problem with The Real Housewives of Dubai is not that it is problematic, whitewashed or tone-deaf—well, at least not any more than the other Housewives installments. It is brutally mind-numbingly and boring – and deceiving.
We all noticed that the sale of alcohol is restricted in Dubai, but champagne flows in nearly every scene.
First, British Stanbury was angry because she could not perform an obscene act during a bachelorette party,
Second, Lesa, the Jamaican-American, has giant $1200 blocks of ice delivered to cool down her swimming pool.
Third, Ayan, the Kenyan, is the most annoying cast member by a mile. She proudly said: “Whoever comes here, don’t try to steal my stardom because, honey, I’m the star in this city.”
Fourth, Sara, the Emirati, obsessed with modernization, declared: "This is an opportunity for me to show the Western world, or the world in general, how a modern Arab woman can be’ …
‘The Housewives of Dubai’ has fancy modern houses, and expensive designer wardrobes, that straddle the line between enviable and absurd …”
“The Los Angeles Times”: Lorraine Ali: “No Terrorism”:
“This show is not about war or terrorism. The only Middle East conflict here is among the women … But, there is no swill of Orientalism and xenophobia.
The Persian Gulf metropolis is their home rather than an exotic tourist destination, or a war zone. This, itself, is a victory for a TV series set in the Arab world …
But, among designer boutiques and high-end restaurants, we see women and men, moving around the city with the same arrogance and hubris of spoiled folks in New York and Orange County…
Occasionally their South Asian and East Asian nannies, servers and maids make it into the show …
In expanding their junk-food franchise, Bravo has run into protest from a coalition of human rights groups who’ve called for the network to publicly oppose the violence against women and homophobia …
Like the treatment of race and religion in “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” or “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” Dubai's series is no different. It’s still about wealthy female ferneries treating one another like trash …”
“Yahoo News”: Brenda Alexander: “Three Blacks”
“‘The Real Housewives of Dubai’ is here and it quickly became the most-talked-about show on Bravo TV. The opulence displayed on the show, along with the expected drama that ‘Housewives’ brings, is a perfect combination …
But the Black cast members are getting the most reactions, and we are here for it!
Aside from Housewives of Potomac and Atlanta, the Housewives of Dubai are the most colorful or diverse, and they all bring something different.
First, Model and businesswoman Chanel Ayan has worked for top fashion houses like Chanel, Tiffany, Cartier, Valentino, and Dolce & Gabbana.
Second, Caroline Brooks is an Afro-Latina from the U.S. who relocated to Dubai with her now ex-husband …
Third, Lesa Milan is a fashion designer and entrepreneur from Jamaica, and is a former Miss Jamaica Universe contestant.
The level of wealth and access displayed on this show is unprecedented, even for a Housewives series. Some Twitter users even commented that the Dubai cast makes Beverly Hills look broke.
It makes it even better those Black women are at the center of it all.
Seeing Black women this beautiful and who’ve obtained this level of success was also inspirational for viewers …”