“Real Housewives” character lives in McMansion only by fraud

A “Real Housewives of New Jersey” character lived in a McMansion and its accompanying lifestyle – but it was all a fraud:

On TV they live large — in a 10,000-square-foot McMansion full of garish baubles and expensive toys in an ode to the bad taste and excessive spending that has made “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” a Bravo hit.

It’s the lifestyle Joe and Teresa Giudice — who grew up together as working-class Italian-American kids — always hungered for but could never truly afford, sources said, even when they convinced themselves and everyone around them they could.

The Giudices’ shaky facade of massive personal wealth — increasingly fragile since a 2009 Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing — finally imploded in a spectacular way last week when they were hit with a 39-count criminal fraud indictment.

The federal charges range from allegations that the two conspired to forge W-2 forms, tax returns, pay stubs and other documents to trick banks into lending them money, to accusations of perjury and false statements in their bankruptcy proceedings.

This won’t do the reputation of McMansions any good. See the picture of the Giudice’s home about halfway through the news story: it looks like everything McMansion critics would hate including a large wrought-iron fence and gate, an elaborate front door, a roof that looks like a castle, and plenty of rooms. Yet, critics would like the symbolism: the home may have been impressive on the outside or looked good on TV but ultimately, it literally all a fraud.

So if and when they lose the home, who is going to buy it?

Question from Real Housewives: is getting evicted from a McMansion worse than living in one?

From the Real Housewives of Atlanta comes this intriguing question: is getting evicted from a McMansion worse than living one in the first place?

There have been plenty of things said about Kim Zolciak’s sudden move from her “dream home” (which she was actually renting from Kendra and Antonio Davis), but she want’s everyone to get one thing straight: her family was not evicted from the McMansion.

In one of her last BravoTV.com blogs of her career on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kim drives that point home yet again. “We were not EVICTED! We ALWAYS paid our rent. Our lease was up; it’s that simple,” she declares.

And in a direct response to what some of the other Housewives have been saying about Kim’s housing situation, she writes, “Yes, Kandi, NeNe, and Cynthia, it was once my ‘dream home’ and my credit has NOTHING to do with me moving. I’m blessed to have never had trouble financially unlike some of the other girls, but they can make whatever comments they’d like.”

McMansions are often thought of as status symbols: their owners want to show they have plenty of money and can afford a large house. Some critics of McMansions have argued that the purchase of such homes is all about new money and displaying status. The architecture of the McMansion tends to feed into this as they have imposing entryways and fronts with less attention paid to other parts of the house.

But, getting evicted from such a house suggests the owners can’t afford this lifestyle. In a country that tends to promote homeownership, getting evicted for financial reasons is usually not a happy topic for people but it could be even worse for people who have lived for years with the appearance that money is no problem. From what I’ve read about the various Real Housewives shows, their participants tend to fall in this group: spending money to keep up appearances matters so not being able to “keep up with the Joneses” in terms of their house would be a big deal. In other words, for some Americans, living in the McMansion in the first place is not a problem but not being able to live there long-term is.

A note: the various Real Housewives shows have generated a number of mentions of McMansions over recent years.