The Heart of Fools

Published: November 30, 2009

By Jim Lichtman
Read More

The House of Mirth is a dark and depressing Edith Wharton novel about a self-absorbed young woman obsessed with fitting into the upper-crust of wealth and society in turn of the century New York.

Lily Bart is a striking woman “to the manner born.” Although she’s been ready for her close-up since she was 18, her perennial talent seems to be putting herself into morally and socially questionable situations.

Lawrence Selden, besotted with Lily, goes around mocking the upper-crust, but “hypocritically adheres to their code of behavior,” (Cliffs Notes).  He knows he hasn’t a snowball’s chance at marriage with Lily due to his lack of wealth.

Bertha Dorset,“a cold-hearted, conniving woman,”(Cliffs Notes,again), “cuckolds her husband and sabotages Lily’s marital opportunities.”

The latest incarnation of the Wharton classic, carries a new location, Washington D.C. and “clever” new title, Real Housewives of Mirth. This new version has the Lily character already married to wealth, now seeking the “fitting into the upper-crust” part in turn of the century D.C.

Michaele Salahi is a striking woman born without manners.  Although she’s been ready for her close-up since 16, her talent lies in putting herself and her hopelessly besotted (possibly cuckolded) husband into morally and socially questionable situations. (See how TV cleverly combines characters here.)

Tareq Salahi is her husband.  Although we’re never quite sure if he’s mocking anyone or knows anything, it is his wealth as well as his besottment that allows his wife to do the things she wishes to do in order to fit into anything that carries a D.C. logo.

Bravo has judiciously cut the rest of the characters in order to make room for more morally/socially moronic situations as well as beer commercials.  The opening episode, How to Crash a State Dinner, begins with a bang.

Full Shot – A stretch limo turned away by the Secret Service –

Cut to:

Follow Shot – NBC News anchor Brian Williams –

Williams (off screen): “After their vehicle was turned away, they hopped out. Then, there was at least one camera trailing them. And a makeup woman got out and fixed the woman’s
hair and then started powdering the man’s forehead.”

Cut to:

The Magic Couple with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel –

Unknown Aid (o.s.): “Wait, where’s Rahm’s wife?  Can someone please find Mrs. Emanuel for the photo?”

Cut to:

The Magic Couple with Vice-President Biden –

Michaele: “It’s so nice to meet you, Joe.  Do you mind if I put my hand on your chest for my Facebook photo?”

Cut to:

Announcer (voice over): “Don’t miss the next episode of a reimagining of Edith Wharton’s classic tale of duplicitous hijinks… Real Housewives of Mirth exclusively on Bravo!

At the end of House of Mirth, a bankrupt and depressed Lily Bart commits suicide.  Sadly, the only equivalent in “reality TV” is a mid-season replacement with… Really Desperate People Seeking 15-More Minutes of Fame staring Monica Lewinsky.

In spite of their celebrity-obsessed, do-whatever-it-takes to get noticed scheme, the Salahis do manage to live up to the quote the novel takes its title from.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.  – Ecclesiastes


  1. Author

    Jim, this is fantastic! Your best ever. Isn’t this the silliest episode in DC yet?

  2. Author

    As a fellow sinner, it is difficult to throw stones at the harlot. The [State Dinner] crash was rather brilliant, in its execution and celebrity, and there will probably be heads that roll in Secret Service and dinner engagement folks. However, if Presidents now (as they have for 50 years) have to rub their noses with the thousands of well-attached, hollywood and sports figures that equate with Presidentiality, then this is the obvious consequence. The couple was audacious, bold and pulled it off. The Secret Service, was, as usual, wanting.

    We have a president, currently, whose popularity is falling like a rock (and it isn’t over yet), and he is the most “wanted to be killed” president I have ever served under. His naïveté is unique, as is his experience. I will not comment on his honesty or politic for fear of offending you with my prescience, but I know if we really knew the volumne of hate mail and death threats received every day, it would probably fill a dumpster.

    Parenthetically, the Afghan surge directly parallels the Surge of November 1965 requested by President Johnson in Vietnam; “up it to 500,000 in-country” he told McNamara. Old Mac told him: “This is not winnable, with any number of troops.” Date: November 30, 1965

    The final death occurred in [March 29, 1973] his name is on The Wall, I believe, and have from the day Bush bombed Iraq in “Shock and Awe” (what a moniker), that we [are] DOING IT AGAIN.

    Afghanistan is just Vietnam spelled differently.

Leave a Comment

Read More Articles
The Latest... And Sometimes Greatest
We Need the Strength of Heroes
The Date: September 28, 1955 The Place: Yankee Stadium The Event: Dodgers/Yankees, Game 1 of the 1955 World Series Every baseball fan has seen the...
April 19, 2024
A Time of Troubles, A Time of Opportunities
It’s getting harder and harder to see the light at the end of a dark, relentless tunnel of anger and war at home and abroad....
April 16, 2024
Conscience of the Senate
Continued from Tuesday’s commentary, I offer two Senate leaders from the past. Tuesday, I spoke of the integrity of Republican John Williams. Today, I offer...
April 12, 2024
A Long Time Ago in a Washington Far, Far Away. . .
. . . two U.S. Senators, one Republican, one Democrat, showed us the meaning of duty and character. Republican John Williams, a chicken farmer and...
April 9, 2024
This is The America I Know
We Americans have many grave problems to solve, many threatening evils to fight, and many deeds to do, if, as we hope and believe, we...
April 5, 2024
We Need Moments Like This
Embed from Getty Images Let’s face it, we’re a mess. We’re living moment to moment, crisis to crisis at home and abroad. Every time you...
April 2, 2024