But, I do think its fair to talk about whether gender plays a role in this saga. Whether we view the desperation of moms differently than the desperation of dads. Whether there’s a reason B-lister Lori Loughlin’s photo has accompanied stories about the scandal far more often than photos of her massively successful designer husband. Huffman’s “Housewives” character spent one episode trying to bribe her twins’ way into a private school, BuzzFeed points out (for $15,000 – is that how Huffman knew it was the going rate?), and so, the story goes, of course Huffman would do the same in real life.
In terms of outrage, the Varsity Blues affidavit reveals more egregious sins than the ones committed by Huffman. She did not, for example, shell out $500,000 and Photoshop her daughter into a water polo uniform. But in terms of moral dissonance, Felicity Huffman is the most surprising villain, and the one whose motives I keep trying to unpack.
While other celebrities started lifestyle brands dedicated to jade vagina eggs (Gwyneth Paltrow) or butt-sculpting yoga pants (Kate Hudson), Huffman created the website, What The Flicka, dedicated to parenting. Specifically, to being a mom. Even more specifically, to being a real, relatable, imperfect mom.
WhatTheFlicka.com is a land of sardonic coffee mugs and wine-o’clock-Wednesdays, and scented candles with names such as “Juice Cleanse” that purport to smell like “greens, mint, and regret.” The articles about parenting have headlines such as “10 ways I’m totally screwing up my kids” and “10 reasons to dread summer with kids” and “9 ways parenthood is like ‘Game of Thrones.’ “
In other words, the site buys into a children-are-a-battlefield theory of parenting. Parenthood is impossible, and making it to bedtime without becoming an alcoholic is an excellent reason to reward yourself with a martini. We are all a hot mess!
In Felicity’s mind, did she do something at odds with her theory of motherhood, or was the alleged scamming an extension of it? Was allegedly buying her kids’ way into school a twisted, privileged version of, Ladies, amiright, sometimes we serve frosting for dinner and sometimes we bribe Georgetown?
“Ruh Ro!” she chirpily wrote in an email to her contact in the scam. “Looks like [my daughter’s high school] wants to provide own proctor.”
It was a problem to be solved, practically and without much fuss.
Every woman I’ve gabbed with this week, at least the ones who read the whole affidavit, mentioned that breezy, cheeky line. Because in the middle of their own kids’ applications, and their own work-life imbalance, and their own parenting partners who occasionally receded into the distance – SPOUSE!! – that line threw something into quick relief. It was one thing to joke about being a bad mom. It was another to actually be one.