“I think [Bravo] found a seam of these upper-middle-class women who were highly vulnerable,” said Mr. Hirschorn. “You had that sense that at any point they could fall through to the lower classes. There was a certain sense of grasping and striving and very human quality of holding onto the ledge of affluence. That made the drama quiet compelling.
“Also they’re sort of unencumbered by taste,” he added.
Bravo programming executive Andy Cohen said that when casting The Real Housewives of New York City, the producers sought out charismatic mothers, preferably with big personalities, little self-consciousness and—cue the real estate porn!—huge houses in the Hamptons.
The cast includes a brassy clique of New York go-getters. Jill Zarin: a fast-talking fabric mogul with a penchant for playing matchmaker with her friends. Bethenny Frankel: a seen-it-all 30-something socialite with her own health food company and a yearning to settle down. LuAnn de Lesseps: the onetime Vanna White
of Italian TV-turned-wife of a French aristocrat looking for more broadcast exposure. And Alex McCord: a Brooklyn—gasp!—brownstone-owning graphic designer, fighting feverishly to get further ahead.
Ms. Zarin, for one, said she thought the new series would diverge from the original. “Sociologically, Californians are different than New Yorkers,” said Ms. Zarin. “We talk faster, we move faster, I don’t want to say we think faster, but some of us do.”
“We’re all a bit of a train wreck,” said Ms. Frankel, who is undergoing her second tour of duty on reality TV, having already survived The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. “I’m a train wreck sometimes, too. That’s life. People like to stop and watch. When they stop talking, start worrying. I don’t read the blogs. Who cares? It’s fun. And you never know what you’re going to get out of it.”
Back at the Italian restaurant, Ms. Singer ordered a second glass of wine.
She told a story about how early in the series, her husband was out on the town, and happened to forget his wedding band. “So this other girl was talking to him,” Ms. Singer said. “She was like, how was I supposed to know? He wasn’t wearing a ring.”
She grinned and pantomimed a backward slap to the head—whose face, husband or hussy, it wasn’t clear. The Observer chuckled and asked about how her husband had reacted to the scene in the Hamptons in which Ms. Singer and her friend flirt with their well-toned, shirtless tennis instructor.
“My husband hasn’t seen that one yet,” she said, laughing. “But he knows that I love and adore him. We’ve been married 15 years. I think we have a very healthy relationship compared to most people. We’re still very attracted to each other.”
To judge by the first few episodes, Ms. Singer isn’t exactly shy about showing off her amour. Along the way, she grinds on the dance floor with her coquettish husband, claims that making her own money is an aphrodisiac, observes that you can never have too many short skirts in the Hamptons and debates, poolside, with her bikini-clad friends which one of them dances more like a stripper.
Eventually, one of her friends sizes up their shapely posse and declares their crew a bunch of straight-up MILF’s. All of which had the adults in stitches, and Ms. Singer’s 13-year-old daughter in a huff. “You’re so embarrassing,” she called out. “What’s your problem?”
Ms. Singer looked out the window at the taxis cruising by on Third Avenue. The sun had set. The next morning, she and Avery and Mario were going on vacation in Palm Beach. She was looking forward to some warm weather.
“We have the same problems as everyone else,” said Ms. Singer. Balancing work with family. Scheduling time with your husband. Working through issues with your daughter.
“She’s 13 now and judging me,” said Ms. Singer. “She never judged me before. She always worshipped me. Now she’s like, Mom, that outfit is O.K. Or, Mom, why are you wearing that. At this point, I can’t look too sexy.”