During the 18th century, a fashionable pastime among London's rich and royal was to visit Bethlem Royal Hospital, most commonly known as Bedlam, and watch the antics of the mentally ill. In the 21st century, it is the rich and famous who are gaped at, their habits and habitats reveled in and reviled through the lens of reality TV.
What started as an aspirational experience, epitomized by the gushing "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," has become a cottage industry of class schadenfreude, the crown jewel being the "Real Housewives" franchise. Just look at the size of their closets and their neuroses, see how their children sass them and their "friends" disrespect them, how their marriages rot in front of our shocked and grateful eyes.
Now even ABC Family has gotten into the act with "Beverly Hills Nannies," which premieres on Wednesday. Created by Evolution Media, the company behind the "Real Housewives" ("You've met the housewives, now meet the help" is the official tag line), "Beverly Hills Nannies" uses a group of attractive and articulate young caregivers to frame the excesses and eccentricities of the moneyed class.
As with any reality show, participants are not quite A, or even B, list. We will take Kristin Lancione (and ABC Family's) word that she is "one of the top nannies in Beverly Hills" and certainly the young women and men she is trying to corral into her nascent placement agency appear capable. But the families are mostly not names most viewers will know. Lancione nannies for model-actress Cindy Margolis, whose claim to fame is being "the most downloaded woman of 1999"; Justin Sylvester works for new mother Marika Tsircou, and Amber Valdez joins the household of Ariane Bellamar. In the second episode, we see Sylvester interview with Lindsay Faulk, who is separated from NFL Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, while Lucy Treadway tries to get a job nannying for Tricia Fisher,Carrie Fisher's half-sister.