By Betsy Abraham and Jennifer Fauci
The North Shore of Long Island is oozing with glamour and wealth. But for six women living in this world of blowouts, bling and Birkin bags, they want to show America that there is more to them than just their zip code.
Bravo’s new reality show,Secrets and Wives, follows the lives of six affluent women in their 40s and 50s from the Gold Coast—Amy Miller, Andi Black, Cori Goldfarb, Gail Greenberg, Liza Sandler and Susan Doneson—who are not only beautiful and funny, but also strong, independent women who are all about girl power. (To find out more about each woman, click here.)
The show rings similar to the Real Housewives franchise on Bravo, which also follows the lives of wealthy women in various cities, including New York City, Atlanta and Miami. But don’t expect to see table-flipping and hair pulling in this show.
“There’s no jealousy between us; we’re all really supportive,” said Black. “Most of the time when you have all these gorgeous women, you think you wouldn’t be supportive of each other, but there’s a love there.”
The show was initially Miller’s idea. “I worked for a woman whose niece was a producer and I told them that I had a great idea and I thought of Liza right away,” she said. “And then I told them all about my friends and we all met and they were blown away by the group and said it was exactly what they were looking for. This all happened about three-and-a-half years ago.”
Black said one of the motivating factors for her to do the show was to help empower other women. A three-time divorcée, Black said that she wanted to share what she has learned through that hard experience with others.
“We all have had our weak times, and when you see all these other women being strong and lifting each other up, you realize you can get past anything,” she said. “There’s not an issue that someone can’t relate to on the show.”
One of those friends Black credits most for getting her through the tough times is Sandler. The two went through separations at the same time, and said they spent a lot of time crying and laughing together. Sandler said she saw the chance to do the show as a fun experience to embark on and wanted to meet new people.
“I figured it would be something positive and new to bring to the table,” she said. “Coming from an affluent neighborhood, people automatically think that we don’t have issues or that we don’t understand problems and pain and difficulties and I wanted to show them that it’s not true.”
Doneson, a career woman, wanted to show other women who have had setbacks that they can move forward and be happy.
“I am proud of the mother, wife and businesswoman I am and wanted those who passed judgment to see they were wrong,” she said. “I wear my heart on my sleeve, so it wasn’t weird at all to put my life on display because I do it all the time.”
While some of the women are closer than others—all have known each other for more than 30 years and have grown closer the last few months during filming—Goldfarb said she feels she and her group of friends can set a positive message for women of all ages, from all types of backgrounds.
“I knew who was coming on board and knew we all had something to say. We all take care of ourselves and live a healthy lifestyle and we’re all in different places,” said Goldfarb, who owns the high-end spa Truth and Beauty in Roslyn Heights with her husband of 20 years.
For Greenberg, the shopaholic and fitness guru of the group, the show was everything she expected.
“Our group is like a sisterhood and we’re all about girl power,” she said. “We don’t know what’s going to make it onto the show, but everything you see is organic. We are just in sync with one another.” (To find out more about Gail Greenberg’s husband, Dr. Stephen Greenberg, click here.)
While these ladies expect a bevy of negativity and haters, they’re not focusing on the critics, and said so far they’ve received a positive response. They even interact with well-wishers on social media.
“I don’t care about what people think. I know the reason I did it and I feel good about it,” said Sandler. “I just go about my business and keep my head up. If people have something to say, they either don’t know me, are jealous or have their own insecurities.”
All of the women said their families have been supportive. Black said she was happy that her daughter and the other girls would see the group as strong, supportive women.
“My kids were a little ambivalent and a little protective because they wanted to make sure how I was portrayed was how I am,” said Goldfarb. “My family comes first and at the end of the day, I’m hoping they’ll be proud of what we put out there.”
“My father and siblings were skeptical at first, but my kids were happy for me, especially my daughter,” said Doneson.
The show delves into the messy details of the women’s lives, including Goldfarb finding suspicious texts on her husband’s cell phone; Miller’s frustrations with her 20-year-old son who lives at home; Sandler’s quest for love and Doneson trying to fit into the Long Island social scene. It’s a vulnerable thing having your issues out in the open, said Goldfarb. But the women said that all the emotions and issues on the show are real.
“We have issues and don’t act like everything’s rosy and perfect,” said Sandler. “We’re all moms with families and have failed at one point or another. We’re completely relatable.”
“When you see us cry, we’re crying. We really touched on some sensitive issues that other women have,” said Black.
“You’re not watching a fabricated show. The camera stops and we keep going.”
But the show isn’t all tears; there’s a lot of happy, fun moments, too.
“We have a lot of fun and we just act like kids,” said Black. “You don’t die at 50; you really continue living.”
Ultimately, the women agree that Secrets and Wives is about showing people how friends can help you through whatever life brings.
“Friends are the family that you choose and these women have really, at one time or another, been crucial in my path,” said Black. “It’s hard to admit to a lot of people you have these failures, but to have women around you going through the same thing, it helps.”