Now Streaming: “The Housewife and the Hustler”

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In the real world, the one in which people are not regularly buying accessories that cost as much as middle-class homes, people are often working too hard for not enough money. Therefore, reality television and its characters are easy to hate simply out of material jealousy. But, there might be more to the outrage. Now streaming on Hulu is “The Housewife and the Hustler.” The documentary details how a reality show diva and her super wealthy attorney husband played a role in adding insult to injury to everyday people.

“The Housewife and the Hustler”: an eye-opening perspective

At the center of “The Housewife and the Hustler” is Tom and Erika Girardi. Erika is probably best known for her participation on the show, “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” The show began in 2010, and Erika joined the cast in 2015. Known for her perfect looks that are maintained by a small group of people she calls “The Glam Squad.” As a performer, Erika is known as Erika Jayne. Her shows and messages are overtly sexy and in praise of excess.

Certainly, there is an audience for this as more and more audiences clamor for songs that express brash confidence. Erika is also known for making quips that relate that her looks are expensive. She is also famous, or infamous for saying, “Being poor sucks.”

The gist of the documentary is that Tom Girardi is a powerful attorney who is famous for winning big settlements for his clients. The problem became that after awhile, his clients were not being paid. In the meantime, his clients are watching “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and seeing Erika’s massive walk-in closet, her glam squad, foreign sports cars, and various perks of the super-rich: a role in an acclaimed Broadway musical, albums well-produced and promoted, etc. In the meantime, Tom’s clients who have suffered life-changing injuries, often disfiguring, through no fault of their own, are left to wonder where their money is.

Watching the show only depicts a fraction of how well Erika and Tom were doing financially. Justice has started to be served, audiences find. Tom files for bankruptcy, and Erika files for divorce. Someone has the idea that Erika could sell her designer items to pay down their debt. Erika maintains the items are gifts and had not been purchased with the clients’ money.

The justice that the former clients are beginning to enjoy has been brought about by a friend of one of the victims. She takes a job as a legal assistant at Tom’s firm. A little research on her part helps bring about change.

The takeaway that some people will have to “The Housewife and the Hustler” is that the greedy rich have gotten what they deserve. Although, Erika maintains to her friends on the show that she did not know about what Tom was doing. Still, the big idea here is why is it so appealing to be an everyday person who works for a living? The lack of respect for working-class people is what seems to be the heart of the “Real Housewives” franchise. And, it is that disrespect that apparently tempts people to maintain a lifestyle, or at least the facade of a lifestyle, even if they have to steal to do it.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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