Can 'The Real Housewives' Be Saved?

The Real Housewives has been on television for over 16 years now, and while it is a staple within pop culture, I feel like there’s been a decline regarding the authenticity, and many seem to agree, pointing to the manufactured drama causing it.  What was once a show that gave us hilarious one-liners, authentic storylines, and over-the-top moments has now become stale, overproduced, and a bit lost. Let’s get into how we got here and what we can do to fix it. 

Out With The New, In With The Old

Listen, I understand that there’s always a need for a bit of a refresh from time to time, and I am absolutely here for it. But, if we’re being honest, I don’t necessarily think that firing OG/veteran cast members has been in the best interest of the franchises. For example, losing Tamra and Vicki was a big mistake (huge) for RHOC. The show lost some of its authenticity, and to introduce new cast members 16 seasons in doesn’t give me any excitement. We love The Real Housewives mainly because of the dynamic between the women, and when the women start to come across as co-workers instead of an actual friend group, it’s incredibly inauthentic. Obviously, because these franchises have been on for so long, it can be challenging to cast people that are genuinely friends. I think bringing cast members like Vicki and Tamra back to RHOC, Dorinda back to RHONY, and even Caroline Manzo back on RHONJ could bring the realness that some of these franchises so desperately need.

The Theme Of Each Franchise Should Stay Consistent

What makes us love The Real Housewives is that each city has its own theme. When you think of RHONJ, you might think of family, and when you think of RHOA you might think of laughter and shade. Recently with the RHOC reboot, I felt like the show was becoming something that it was never intended to be. When I think of RHOC, I think of really dramatic yet real storylines. From the Brooks cancer scandal to Shannon Beador’s divorce, RHOC was consistently good because the women were showing us their authentic selves. This last season, I felt like the women wanted to give us high glam and drama, when that’s more RHOBH‘s domain

Shorter Seasons Are Better

While I love watching Housewives, there comes a point where some episodes are just flat-out boring. For example, the most recent season of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City was 24 episodes, and the main storyline of the season that we were waiting for (Jen Shah’s arrest) didn’t arrive until episode 10. The season felt drawn-out and was incredibly boring at times. I believe that each season should contain no more than 18 episodes, including the reunion. That way there isn’t a lot of filler and the fans can actually enjoy the season without feeling like the show has become a chore to watch.

The Women Have To Like Each Other

While we love a good feud, there still has to be some sense of sisterhood within the group. The reason why franchises like RHOP and RHOA work is because while the women may feud from time to time, there’s still this sense that they have a love for one another and are friends outside the show. Watching RHOSLC and RHOC, you get the vibe that the women aren’t friends outside the show, and that the friendships that they portray as “close-knit” are all for show. Even RHOBH and RHONJ who both have ensembles that have “teams” within the cast (Fox Force Four, Teresa and Jen, etc.) still have some sense of real friendships on the show.

Even with the last two seasons of RHONY, I felt like women were trying to shift the show into something that it wasn’t before. What was once a show that gave us belly laughs, genuine friendships, and sort of a Sex and The City vibe became a show where the women seemed to hate each other at times and there didn’t seem to be any genuinely fun moments, like we were used to before. 

I do believe that there is potential for the franchise to go back to what we loved in the glory days of housewives, especially with the new season of RHOA, which looks incredibly promising. For that to happen for other franchises, however, the network will have to go back to the basics with its formula for producing its shows. We need authentic drama, organic chemistry between the cast, and to let every franchise stick to what made it popular in the first place.  

Images: Nicole Weingart/Bravo

Jonathan Chandler
Jonathan Chandler
Jonathan Chandler is a Los Angeles based poet and writer. Between juggling college life and advocating for social issues, Jonathan finds himself maintaining his sanity by binging old episodes of The Real Housewives+ Parks and Rec. You can follow him on Instagram @jonathanchandler_