Here we go again. Another show about conspicuous consumption for the debt-riddled masses.
If you love the cardboard mansions of “MTV Cribs” or the botox-heavy cat fights of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” shows, chances are you’ll love this: “Wall $treet Wives,” a reality show about the fabulous lives of the women behind the men of Wall Street, is coming to the small screen. Maybe.
Co-producers Devon Fleming, a Connecticut-based author and “lifestyle guru,” according to the New York Times, and her friend Sammi Mendenhal haven’t yet landed a network deal, though they’ve launched a casting call. They’re on the hunt for four or five women who “are or were married to someone who is working/previously worked on Wall Street.” Here’s the casting ad, for anyone interested. And here’s the caveat that will make the show a dud: “This one will be fun and not about crazy women having cat fights!”
There are a few things that would make a show about Wall Street wives interesting/different from all the other shows about high-flying +1 females. One is if the show captured the seedy, gratuitous habits of all those Wall Street hubbies who haven’t yet learned how to handle their cash — the cocaine, DUIs, high-end strippers, the painstaking efforts to expunge their records and hide their vices from their loving (or more likely un-loving) wives. The other would be if the show captured ugly details about the disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street — the indignation about bringing home a bit less bacon this year (Wall Street pay dropped nearly 22% last year, according to New York’s Independent Budget Office), the foreclosed third home in East Hampton, the shameful treatment of Park Avenue maids. But neither of those scenarios is what these producers, one of whom is part of the Wall Street set (she’s married to a Deutsche Bank wealth manager), want for the show. “These are not idiots. These are the intelligent women who hold it down,” says Mendenhall of their ideal candidate. “Some of them have M.B.A.’s!” There’s the show’s biggest problem, if it ever gets off the ground.
Women who are intelligent enough to “hold it down” aren’t likely to offer high drama. Not only would they be better at hiding their problems from the camera. If these women are actually putting their M.B.A.’s to use, they’re probably also happier spouses than the dithering dollies of the Real Housewives shows. A recent study found that busier working mothers tend to have better marriages than their non-working and less-busy counterparts, and they have husbands who tend to help out. So let’s assume these women aren’t high-strung psychos. Then what are we watching for?
The only other draw to the show would be boatloads of beautiful money. But there’s another snag. The truly rich, everyone knows, prefer to enjoy their riches off-camera. Indeed, a show about “Wall Street wives” may bring to mind trips to Henri Bendel followed by Krug Clos du Mesnil champagne. But chances are, the people desperate enough to sell their privacy for a mere $30,000 an episode (that’s what the Real Housewives of New York got paid, apparently) can’t afford that level of luxury. After all, there are plenty of Wall Street workers who don’t make as much as you’d think. Wall Street incomes for the rank-and-file averaged around $300,000 in 2009, which is crumbs compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars raked in by the top dogs each year. The top 25 hedge fund managers, for instance, averaged roughly $460 million a pop in pay in 2009.
If the show ever does make it onto TV, don’t expect any juicy revelations about the Wall Street world. In the vein of Real Housewives versions 1 through 6, we’re in for more of the same.