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  • Category: Damien Barrett
2438206839 promo217040357 648x365 2438207801-heroOk I have succumbed. After religiously avoiding the real housewives franchise in all of its incarnations – Orange County, Beverly Hills, Miami, New York City, New Jersey, DC, Atlanta and Vancouver, I have to admit that when it comes to the Real Housewives of Melbourne, they got me hook, line and sinker! And here’s the reason – it is such appalling television that it is absolutely and completely compelling and has caused me to scour social media for my next #rhomelbourne fix. It’s completely insane!

Here we have a group of 5 wealthy and privileged women (mostly from the “effluent” suburb of Toorak in Melbourne) behaving with all the class of a group of bitchy schoolgirls.  The target of their furore is housewife number six, Gina Liano – a successful Melbourne barrister. Liano is a self described Glamazon, is never seen in anything less than completely matching couture (indeed in a recent episode she was even colour coordinated with the helicopter she was about to step into in her 9 inch heels). She is a no nonsense, straight shooter who in the program’s opening credits is quoted “I’ll give you my opinion, but you’d better be ready to hear it”.

The other housewives are Jackie Gillies, wife of former Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies and ex Novocastrian – a professional psychic who constantly tells everyone that she is married to a rock star. Newsflash Jackie – he was a rock star – 20 years ago and hasn’t had a successful record since.

Janet Roach is a twice divorced cougar with more plastic surgery than Cher who will switch sides at the drop of a hat.

Chyka Keebaugh is the owner of the successful Melbourne based Big Group and has earned the nickname Switzerland on the show because she refuses to buy into the bitchiness of the other women. She is the most warm of the “ladies” and in many ways the most likeable, stating that the secret to her fabulous life is love and laughter.

Lydia Schiavello – vapid, vacant,  stupid  and just plain nasty– according to a recent episode, Lydia thinks that the Louvre is in London. Need I say more?

And finally, Andrea Moss, the wife of Melbourne plastic surgeon Dr Chris Moss and founder of Liberty Belle – a skin clinic. A recent episode saw Moss meet with publishers about having her book on raising children (well raising children with nannies) published. She was politely told to go away and write a blog. She evidently is now thinking of “self publishing”.

What started as a seemingly harmless sneak peek into the lives of some wealthy women from “planet Toorak” has very quickly morphed  into a bitter social media war. Week after week, viewers have seen the tension between Liano, Moss, Schiavello and now, Roacch, escalate.  What started out as a tiff between Liano and Gillies over a throw away comment about Gillies’ psychic abilities, has developed into an all-out war on every platform – radio, tv, social media and water cooler gossip.

Evidently, Moss and Schiavello took issue with Gina’s tardiness and tendency to speak her mind. I mean why wouldn’t you be upset if Gina arrived an hour late to a tennis day at your beach house and then proceeded to spend an hour fixing her makeup followed by wearing her 6 inch stillettos on your $40,000 tennis court? Forget about the middle east, the disappearance on flight MH370 and the global financial crisis. Who’s going to clean up Gina’s makeup from the bathroom? Certainly not Andrea Moss – and she doesn’t even have a cleaner at the beach house!

The behaviour, particularly of Moss and Schiavello has degenerated each week to spiteful, school girl bully name calling at Gina Liano. Last Sunday’s episode saw Schiavello roll her eyes when discussing Gina’s “brush with cancer”.

Name calling? I can cope with that – after all I was a drag queen in a former life.

Bitchiness – so what?

Criticising an individual’s fashion choices? I do it every time I flick through Woman’s Day and play flashy or trashy with the fashion pages.

But bullying, harassment and belittling an individual’s battle with cancer? That is not ok.

Moss and Schiavello have copped a battering in social media over their treatment of Gina whose cause has been taken up by anti bullying groups across the nation. I suspect that at the end of the day, Gina will be the only housewife to come out of the series with her dignity still intact and hold gay icon status to boot!

If you believe Andrea and Lydia’s twitter feed, all will be revealed in the reunion episode moderated by Alex Perry, and airing in the coming weeks.  They claim it will show the nasty side of Liano and a few home truths will come out that will validate their behaviour. But the question that needs to be asked is what could Gina have done that was so bad that it warrants the sort of vicious bullying that all of Australia has been witness to? Is there ever an “excuse” for bullying? Did the recent passing of Charlotte Dawson not shed light on the effects of bullying? Apparently  it Toorak it did not.

But despite what comes out in the reunion episode, I am #teamgina til the bitter end. Finally, a woman on Australian television who knows her own mind and is not afraid to stand up for herself. To quote a recent tweet “Unless it is proven that @GinaLiano kills puppies for fun, I am #teamgina all the way”.