If you’ve seen enough “Real Housewives” type reality shows starring wealthy women, you know the drill: The characters are introduced. Feuds are established. The trash-talking begins. Someone suggests an “impromptu” trip to Vegas/the Bahamas/Hawaii. Everyone agrees. The fights start. The backstabbing continues.
E!’s new reality show “WAGS” followed that formula in its first episode on Tuesday night, but there are some new twists to this series: Namely, it’s very educational. First, WAGS stands for “Wives And GirlfriendS” of professional athletes. (A distinguished group including Carrie Underwood, Iggy Azalea and Victoria Beckham, producers want you to know.) This series chronicles a group of women either dating or married to sports stars, with as much real and manufactured drama as you would expect.
However, you do learn a lot about the apparently frightening world of being with a professional athlete. Or as E! puts it, “These WAGS are playing the most competitive sport out there: getting and keeping that pro-athlete man.” Or as we put it, this is a show that will make feminists weep. Here are some of the teachable moments from the premiere:
1) The WAGS lifestyle is extremely glamorous.
Like, extremely glamorous. “Private jets, vacations, parties, photo shoots, black cards,” ticks off Ashley North (girlfriend of Washington Redskins safety Dashon Goldson). “You name it, we got it.” Some of the women have careers — as a model, a makeup artist, a stylist– but they are primarily defined by their lives of luxury in the pro athlete world.
2) Rule of being a WAG: Be beautiful at all times. Or else.
“There’s a need to be perfect,” clarifies Barbie Blank (fiancée of Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray). “There’s always competition of who looked the best.” That means designer clothes, blowouts and lots of makeup, especially on game day, when your No. 1 responsibility is to show up and support your man.
“For a lot of women, that’s all they have. Sundays, going to the game,” Ashley says. “That’s their moment to shine.”
3) Wives rule the WAGS world. The girlfriends? Not so much.
The WAG hierarchy is official and vicious. “The Queen WAG would obviously be the wife,” explains Sasha Gates (wife of recently-suspended San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates). “Everyone’s aspiring to be a wife.” Below that, there’s fiancée, which is also acceptable because at least you have a ring on it. Then, there’s the less-coveted “girlfriend.” Below that? “Jersey chasers,” one of the kinder euphemisms attributed to the women who strive to date sports figures.
“The wives definitely tend to look down on the girlfriends,” Ashley explains. “There’s always this feeling like, you might not even see this girl next week.” Sure enough, Autumn Ajirotutu (wife of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu) confirms she only prefers to hang out with wives instead of girlfriends.
This leads to much drama in the first episode, as Natalie Halcro (girlfriend of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaun Phillips) and her cousin, Olivia Pierson (not currently attached but has previously dated athletes) are invited on a group trip to Vegas. Needless to say, the wives are not pleased, because Natalie and Olivia do not act very classy. To put it mildly.
“That’s what makes us wives and that’s why they’re not,” Sasha explains. “Cause we’re up here and they’re [lowers her hand practically to the floor] down here.”
4) Certain sports are more prestigious than others.
Olivia, for example, will never again date an NHL player, because her first hockey player boyfriend cheated on her. Barbie, of course, thinks Olivia’s implying that all hockey players are cheaters — and is extremely offended by this assumption.
5) Women are always going to try to steal your man.
This is the most important rule and drives most of the episode. “Millions of people want your man,” says Nicole Williams (girlfriend of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Larry English). “It’s like a war zone.”
The women agree that even though men cheat all the time, their husbands and boyfriends are far more tempted because of all the ladies throwing themselves at them at all times, mostly for the money and potential fame. During a day at the salon, the WAGS trade stories about the most egregious examples: Sasha, for example, “snapped” after a woman started flirting with her Antonio in a VIP area at a club right in front of her.
Some go to extreme measures: Nicole sets up a camera in the bedroom where she can watch Larry at all times. (Okay, it was a camera for the dog, but she says it works just as well as extra security.) Later, they get in a fight during the Vegas trip when Larry wants to go out with the boys — but she doesn’t trust what will happen if she’s not around.
Luckily, her pals Natalie and Olivia completely understand. “You know that the girls are going to be there and be all over him,” Natalie tells the camera.
“Women throw themselves at these guys,” Olivia confirms.
Natalie agrees. “Then the fact that they’re dating someone pretty like Nicole, that –”
“Just ups their stock,” Olivia interrupts.
“It makes Larry a lot more attractive than if he were single. It’s just the reality,” Natalie says.
“It sounds sick,” Olivia concurs sadly. “But that’s the reality.”