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Maria Hess: The Housewives of Delaware


Some people detest reality TV. Others don’t understand it. The reality TV genre that invades our airwaves today was born of The Writers Guild of America strike in 2007, which left some 12,000 movie and television writers out of work, and spawned a proliferation of unscripted shows featuring so-called real people.

The concept is not new, and there have been other strikes. “Candid Camera” was the first reality TV show. The beloved 1948 series starring Alan Funt played tricks on real people who became superstars in their communities. PBS offered “An American Family” in 1973. Game shows and other “normal Joe” series followed, leading Margaret Mead to note that reality TV “moves from observation to storytelling in a way traditional documentaries have not.”

Today’s airwaves are ruled by real-life characters you’d never let in your house. It’s not all bad. “Dancing with the Stars” and other shows require actual talent. And I admit to an obsession with “Celebrity Apprentice.” But others should come with a warning: This program kills brain cells. 

Other shows fall somewhere in the middle. “The Real Housewives” franchise premiered in 2006 with the bourgeois ladies of Orange County, Calif., then brought into our living rooms the well-accessorized women of New York, Atlanta and Miami. They missed Delaware. And that’s where we come in.

We used Facebook to find the women who appear in “Fabulous Housewives of Delaware” on page 68. Our feature is not about turning over tables, crying over broken fingernails or betraying BFFs. It’s just a celebration of some great women. But we did have questions: How do you define a housewife in 2012? Does she work outside the home? Does she have children? Can she be a single mom? Can a divorced woman still be a housewife? In the Bravo series, the answer to all these questions is yes. But we writer types struggled. Merriam-Webster defines a housewife as “a married woman in charge of a household.” 

Some women we feature fit that definition; some do not. And that’s liberating. We have no right to pigeonhole these women into 1950s stereotypes. They call themselves housewives, and that’s good enough for us. One thing is certain: They are fabulous.

How would you define a housewife? Send us a note at mhess@delawaretoday.com.

Enjoy the issue.


Team Notes

Kelly I had the best time at our 50th Anniversary VIP Party. There were so many Deleb’s in attendance that by the end of the night my head was spinning, and I didn’t even have anything to drink. It was great to be able to visit with people that I have worked with over my career here. Past editors Marsha Mah and Lise Monty, Cindi Dwyer and Michele Rollins, who hosted us when we went to Jamaica for a couple of fashion shoots back in 2004. Good times.

Drew After all of these years, I still feel good when someone tells me they saw something I wrote in the magazine. But why do they insist on sharing the fact that they saw the magazine at the doctor’s office?

Louise  The April issue was a pretty big deal for us—50th Anniversary and all—but a lot of my efforts for the anniversary went into designing and building eight exhibit walls that were displayed at our 50th Anniversary VIP Party (and a few other places along the way, this year). It was six months of hard work but with the support of a great team, the walls far surpassed my expectations. If you haven’t seen them yet, check ’em out at delawaretoday.com/Delaware-Today/April-2012/2012-Delaware-Today-50th-Anniversary-Party. I am very proud of them and my team!

Jared This month I got to shoot all of our housewives for the feature. It was fun meeting all of them. They were all excited to be photographed.

Katie I recently got the chance to see Buddy “The Cake Boss” Valastro at the DuPont Theatre. For those familiar with his TV series, Buddy’s not as tough as he seems. Confident and humble at the same time, with personality to spare, he was a real treat, and couldn’t have been sweeter or more encouraging to the youngsters in the audience. He can be the boss of me anytime—of course, it wouldn’t hurt if he brought cake.

Mark It was a real pleasure to judge the Delaware’s Best Amateur Chef Contest at Deerfield with manager Jeff Robinson, chef Paul O’Toole, sous chef Mark Rutt, and Delaware Today’s own Monica Weber. Someone had to eat six delicious meals in three hours. This crew was up to the challenge. The amateur chefs and their food were outstanding.

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