How to Fix the Real Housewives Franchise for Bravo
The Real Housewives franchise is in trouble. Bravo used to have a charming show that dealt with the families of these insulated women. We found joy as they slowly began to tempt the threads of a genuine life in real time and sometimes feel the shallow tenderness of, perhaps, eventually becoming human. The ironic twist of the show has always been that these monstrous women were neither “real” nor “housewives” and we, as viewers, knew that — while they still do not.
There’s an old Reality TV Chestnut that claims these shows have a realistic lifespan of three seasons. The first season is always the best, because nobody knows anything and everything is honest and genuine. The second season is more phony because the “stars” begin to realize how the game is played in the editing bay. The third season is ruinous because every “star” now wants the star treatment and they begin to script and direct their every intention — including instructing the cameraman where to set up a shot.
The Real Housewives franchise has turned into something ugly over the last season. We now have shows based in Orange County, New York City, Atlanta and New Jersey. Washington, D.C. will debut this Summer while a Hollywood version is allegedly in play for the Fall.
The Real Housewives used to be about dealing with families and the unrealistic wants and wishes of these misbegotten women. It was fascinating watching them try to deal with realities they could not comprehend because of their pseudo-privilege and intellectual incompetence.
Orange County was ruined when Jeanna Keough left. We loved and adored her. She had money, but she was also dealing with two strangely disconnected and angry sons, a disabled husband, and a smart daughter. With Jeanna gone, the heart of the show was lost and the awful Vicki Gunvalson became the epicenter of the self-centered shatstorm and she unnecessarily twisted lives akimbo just because she could — and then played the put-upon victim in the end. We loathe Vicki, and if the OC has any chance of recovery, they need to get rid of the current cast of losers and start all over again.
The New York City franchise just finished its worst season ever as the Real Jill Zarin was revealed — to be a double-faced, backstabbing, hoary, shrill, stereotype of a crumbling person. Jill Zarin threatened people, allegedly faked her identity, and repeatedly made enemies of friends. We used to love Jill Zarin. Then we met the Real Jill Zarin this season and we all now must confess we had been bamboozled. Jill is a real pro at spin control — but she cannot mask, or take back, or even begin to remedy, the nasty, cruel, and vicious words we heard coming out of her mouth this season. She will never be able to hide from the show or its archives. Jill Zarin is infamous now, and I suppose the only good thing we can take away from the heartbreak of seeing who she really is — is the fact that she cannot forever spin the reality of the episodes shown to us. Those self-evident truths will live forever long beyond her and any failed effort she will continue to make to remask what really happened.
The Atlanta housewives began to fail when they got rid of the one spot of sunshine in the cast: DeShawn Snow. She had heart, was a good person, and made a difference in lives outside her financial circle. Now the show is about arguments and who has what and cheating and adultery.
The New Jersey Housewives are a caricature of all the other shows. There’s Big Mafia Talk — “No, we aren’t! WINK WINK!” — and picking on one person. It’s tiresome, and if I hear “bubbies” used as a synonym for “breasts” one more time, I will scream until my head implodes! These aren’t housewives! They’re infants! I stopped watching this season after two episodes. I finally had enough.
The Washington, D.C. show is already a verified liar and a loser. I won’t watch. What is Bravo thinking? Does only attention matter — even if it is cumbersome, punishing and negative? Why aren’t values and morality given a higher stake in these shows?
The Real Housewives franchise is now a cesspool of deceit and clever cunning — and we do not want to invite that trash into our homes. It isn’t fun or entertaining to watch people try to destroy each other for cable TV fame and posthumous fortune. Our stomachs turn as the scheming reaches new lows of mendacious cruelty. We’ve had enough with the faux and the phony and the entire franchise. Cancel all the Hausfrau shows and give us more Top Chef spinoffs.