The debut episode of Sweet Home Oklahoma hasnt even aired yet and already Jennifer Welch, one of the proud Oklahoma City women in the reality series, is getting recognized around town.
I dont think I have felt anything more surreal in my life, she says. I took my boys to an Oklahoma City Thunder basketball game and we were eating in one of the restaurants at the Chesapeake Arena. The waitresses came over and asked, Are you the girl from the show?
It was unexpected, but my kids thought it was pretty cool.
Meanwhile, the spike of activity on Welchs Facebook page boggles her mind.
Maybe, come Monday, once the show airs, it will start feeling more real, she says. But for now, when I see that I have all these notifications on my newsfeed, Im like, Oh, my god, this is not happening.
Sweet Home Oklahoma premieres at 9 p.m. Monday on Bravo.
The network is probably best known for its over-the-top Real Housewives reality shows, but there are none of those antics in this kinder, gentler slice-of-life series.
Welch and her two best friends, Angie Pumps Sullivan and Lee Murphy, simply arent the types to throw wine in each others faces or talk trash behind the others backs.
Thats something we addressed right away when we were approached about this, says Welch, who was born in Dallas. We are friends and our friendships are more important to us than being on TV.
The show is a story about women and the strength of our friendships. Its about being adults and being moms and having jobs. Its about this crazy walk that we all go through called adulting.
Welch is a high-end interior designer. She and her husband, Josh, a lawyer, are divorced but living together with their two sons, ages 14 and 10.
Sullivan is an attorney practicing marriage and family law. She and her ex-husband share three kids, ages 16, 14 and 11.
Murphy, a medical device sales rep, is divorced and dating. She has a 12-year-old and twin 10-year-olds.
They all live in the same neighborhood in the suburban city of Nichols Hills.
There might not be Real Housewives-style bad behavior, but theres plenty of self-deprecating humor.
Pumps is the source of most of the laughs. She has many quirks. Wait until you see her donning a smoking glove and hear her explanation for it. She also has no self-edit button. When Lee confesses that she hasnt has sex in six months, Pumps immediately shares that, for her, its been six years!
Welch, who has seen the first three episodes, is pleased that Oklahomans are not depicted as rubes.
I think theres an attitude on the East and West Coasts that theyre somehow superior to us and were just flyover states, she says. Whats completely lost on them is that there are places like Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, St. Louis, Kansas City and Little Rock where there are huge pockets of sophistication.
Its worth noting, though, that Welch didnt always love Oklahoma the way she does now.
Ill never forget the morning that we moved here, she says. My dad came into my room and said, Wake up, you Okies. Were moving to Oklahoma. I was mortified. I was 7 years old and thinking, No way am I leaving Texas!
My parents met in Dallas and I was born in Baylor Hospital. My mother was a legal secretary in Dallas the day that John F. Kennedy was shot. She saw the presidents motorcade go by, she waved and swears that Jackie Kennedy looked at her and waved back. So these Dallas ties were deep.
Her parents, now retired, actually moved back to North Texas. Theyre living near Denton.
But Ive lived in Oklahoma for such a long time now, I am definitely a proud Okie, Welch says. In fact, I feel much more Oklahoman than I do Texan.