I've been talking a bit about the Pioneer Woman lately. I met her in NYC and I made her doughnuts. Here is a really interesting article about her from the New York Times magazine. I love all this talk of "Real Housewives" and peeling open the plastic on the tapioca pudding as a huge contrast to Ree Drummond's life:
" It takes only a few minutes of voyeuristically perusing Drummond’s
pastoral pleasuredome, with its gorgeous photographs of Drummond cooking
dinner for her rugged cowboy husband or home-schooling her four
towheaded children, before you realize that you are a failure. Gazing at
photos of Drummond’s kids riding their horses under a cloud-dappled
Maxfield Parrish sky, you can see that, in comparison, you fail your
brood every day. Because as you grumble and boil mac and cheese from a
box and your kids beg to watch the latest Katy Perry video on your
laptop, this woman fries chicken and teaches her children algebra and
shakes her luscious mane of red hair in the Oklahoma sunshine."
I've thought for a while the appeal of the Pioneer Woman is mostly fantasy. In a society where most people are very calorie conscious, isn't it more fun to just imagine you live on a ranch where you've spent all your calories on herding the cows and so can eat whatever you want (as opposed to sitting at a computer screen all day)? The fact that she used to live in a city makes women in other parts of the country feel able to relate to her, but her life is foreign enough to feel exotic.
More from the article:
" Even though readers are well aware that The Pioneer Woman may not be a
portal into a simpler, better life so much as a carefully art-directed,
commercially sponsored fantasy, they are happy to suspend their
disbelief. Even as the Web site’s popularity grows beyond 23 million
page views per month, and Drummond shills for Babycakes Mini Treat
Makers and shoots spots on the “Today Show” and wraps her cooking show
for the Food Network, the blog continues to outline the unending tedium
of home-schooling and cooking and housework (with an occasional episode
of “The Real Housewives” mixed in for good measure). The fantasy
presented here is a nostalgic vision of hard work in isolation, far from
the curses of urban life, with its concrete playgrounds and its
indifferent teachers and blind institutions. Physical labor, exposure to
the elements: these are the things that free you from the compromises,
the distractions, the mediocrity of city living. With The Pioneer Woman,
all of these urban indignities dissolve into a haze of homemade
doughnuts and pretty sunsets and a house packed with mothers-in-law and
uncles and cousins."
I have got to admit, going to see her in NYC - I was more fascinated by her success than I was particularly a hardcore fan. I think her success says something interesting about our society that this article helps to pin down a little more. There was an interesting article about her in the New Yorker a while back too - and how she does not highlight the fact that they are uniquely wealthy in that area, and basically ranching royalty.