There’s nothing more painful than watching a Real Housewives trailer or mid-season teaser and realizing it’s packed with groan-inducing storylines. You know the ones—the vow renewals, drinking interventions that are totally cringy, straight-up boring, and so overdone that they’re more tired than me after attempting to run a mile.
So here are some scenes where I wish someone yelled “Bravo, Bravo, f***ing Bravo!”, so that production would have trashed the footage rather than making us suffer through it. These are the Bravo storylines that need to stop.
Their Kid’s Driving Test
Four words, 17 letters: Where’s the value add?
There’s no reasonable explanation for why precious on-air time is used on a storyline that advances zero actual plot. If you really want to announce that your kid is practicing for their driving test, that can be done via a single tweet or Instagram story (that’s right, it doesn’t even deserve a static post).
And besides, watching a 16-year-old learn to drive triggers the trauma I developed from taking my own test, while simultaneously making me jealous AF that they’re learning using their own Mercedes, and not a passed-down 2004 Honda.
What makes it even more boring is that the story is always the same, no matter the franchise and no matter the season. The Housewife/Househusband is nervous for the kid to drive, the kid does something “cute” like hit the curb, the kid takes their test. End of story.
And I’m not against seeing the kids on screen, but in order for me to care, it needs to be something ridiculous, like Luann and Ramona planning Victoria and Avery’s over-the-top sweet sixteens (I’m reminiscing about vintage RHONY, sue me).
A vow renewal is a glorified “look at me!” party that’s undeservingly given a multi-episode buildup. Like seriously, despite how much party planning they do, it somehow always ends up looking like a cookie-cutter ceremony inspired by a 2013 Pinterest board.
So, Housewives, stop trying to make vow renewals work. Viewer entertainment (or lack thereof) aside, renewing vows during a season has a success rate of about 3% (my math sucks, but according to my calculations, it’s only worked for Whitney Rose… so far).
And I get that the Housewives are trying to be respectful to the institution of love during the ceremonies… blah, blah, blah… BUT, I’d prefer a boozy party where the ladies feel open and free to be dramatic (versus at a buttoned-up ceremony). Think more Kyle’s White Party or Heather Dubrow’s Hoedown, and less Vicki/Don re-tie the knot.
The Cast Doing Outdoor Athletic Activities
A good Housewives scene either: is dramatic AF, includes new info, advances the plot, and/or shows the ladies doing something aspirational.
Watching them do outdoor activities like bocce or an adventure course is none of the above. Let’s be honest, if I wanted to watch someone zipline or hula hoop, I’d start viewing my friends’ Instagram stories.
And I get that these outdoor activities are usually filler footage. But honey, there’s so many other options that would be so much more fascinating to watch… like the ladies shopping with the dollar amount spent flashing on the screen, or even ordering at a restaurant. That’s right, I want to sit in my thrift store college hoodie and judge how XXpen$ive it is to be them.
The only exception to this is if it’s RHONY. Because let’s face it, no matter what they’re doing, Sonja and Luann find a way to flirt with the hot instructor—and as a single gal, that’s something I take notes on as I watch.
Finding Long-Lost Family
I’m not saying cast members shouldn’t find their long lost family, I’m just saying I don’t want to see it on my screen. Not only is it an extremely isolating storyline because it pulls the cast member away from the group, it’s also overdone and never really results in anything positive.
It’s the classic “expectation vs. reality” meme. Producers expect that this will pull on viewers’ heartstrings, but what really happens is that we end up watching boring one-on-one convos between the cast member and whatever family member/detective/family-finding-specialist they’re consulting for episodes on end.
And I hate to make this comparison, but it’s like RHONY this season. You tell yourself to keep watching because maybe something good will happen this episode! but you’re disappointed every time. Mainly because it leads to a dead end (Melissa Gorga and her “sister”) or a situation where the long-lost family member clearly doesn’t want to be found (Ashley Darby and her dad).
All which begs the point: what’s the purpose of this?
The only thing more uncomfortable than accidentally watching an episode of Sex/Life with your parents is a Housewives drinking intervention.
There’s something undeniably depressing and hypocritical about a group of drunk women confronting another drunk woman about how much she’s drinking, and speculating that she may have an issue (while being one sip away from slurring their words as they do so).
Besides being extremely cringey, it usually results in the group inevitably feeding fuel to the tabloids to speculate about that person’s drinking/substance abuse habits, which is so not fair, especially if the cast member has kids and businesses that’ll be affected by the rumors.
What happened to the days of lighthearted (but juicy!!) storylines like Adrienne Maloof’s chef Bernie versus Lisa Vanderpump? Bring back more of that, and stop trying to force these overdone plotlines down our throats.
Images: Heidi Gutman, Paul Morigi/Bravo; Myles Aronowitz/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images
The Real Housewives of New York City, affectionately known as RHONY, is a staple amongst Housewives fans. It’s known for the silliness, directness, and overall cohesiveness of its cast. However, viewers like myself have felt a void for the past few seasons, especially with the current one. The vibe just seems off, and it’s not for one particular reason or cast member. To be frank with you, RHONY has been on the decline for a while. It’s not that the show is necessarily boring, because there wouldn’t be so much social media conversation surrounding it if it were. However, there seems to be something missing with this season, and it’s been subtly happening for some time now. So the question that is on everyone’s mind is, what exactly is wrong with RHONY? Let’s take a deep dive into how the casting, direction of production, and the lack of resolution has put the show in an awkward place.
The cohesiveness of RHONY’s cast is what initially set it apart from other Housewives franchises. At its peak, the core cast members seemed to be an actual friend group, even if they were not necessarily friends before the show. The women would hang out when the cameras went down and when the show was in off-season. They would even grab dinner together after going in on each other at reunion. It made their on-screen chemistry absolutely fantastic and gave us arguably the best seasons of RHONY (7-10). I’ve never watched Sex and the City (and I probably won’t, so please don’t start), but I feel like they gave real-life SATC vibes: women with ambition who know how to have a good time.
And then, there was a shift. While The Real Housewives is supposed to depict women who are part of the same friend group, we know this is not the case anymore, especially for franchises that have been on for years. These women are hired to be friends, and honestly, they show it more and more as the season progresses. There’s no way in hell that the five main cast members on the show would hang out in real life. Ramona, Luann, and Sonja are used to their Upper East Side bubble. Leah and Eboni are used to dealing with women like the other three, but they don’t have enough in common to form a genuine friendship.
In essence, it feels like we’re watching two shows, one about women who like to have fun on the Upper East Side and another about women who have influence on NYC and its culture. They’re both amazing groups of women, but they all give off the vibe that they are contractually obligated to hang out with one another, and that makes for a disastrous season of Housewives. This is why you need that one person who acts incredibly enthusiastic about being there, the person you can tell loves doing the show and will welcome new people to the group. Someone who can be in a room with people from all walks of life and fit right in. The bridge between the veterans and the newbies.
That person was Dorinda. What are we doing here without her? She was the middle ground between Leah and Ramona when they would feud, and she also felt like the glue to the group. Her absence is incredibly felt this season, and Bravo would be out of their minds to not hire her back. Also, we’ve seen everything we could see out of Ramona, Luann, and Sonja. One of them has to go next year. They’ve done a lot for the show, but their stories are not as intriguing as they once were.
You Need Your Narrators
With all of the differences and the drama of any Housewives franchise, you need your narrators. Every city has them. They are usually the ones who come across as the individual(s) with the most common sense and the least amount of delusion. (The keyword here is *least* amount of delusion, as every Housewife has to have to be a little delusional and kooky. That’s why we love them.) But your narrators should also be neutral. During its peak (seasons 5-9), Carole and Bethenny were the narrators. And listen, I’m not a fan of the margarita lady—she runs her mouth about Black women a little too much for my liking. However, I do know that it’s hard to replace her presence on the show. Last season, the network tried to make Dorinda and Leah its narrators, which didn’t work because they were the two most embroiled in drama. This season, it’s setting up Leah and Eboni, which doesn’t work either because their conflicts this season are with the other three women. Their takes are obviously going to be more biased. To fill this void, production should have hired one more Housewife—someone unbiased, witty, and the most “calm” one in the group. Someone like Carole.
Conflicts Aren’t Resolved
Despite what some viewers might think, this isn’t the first time RHONY has tackled serious topics. As Eboni has publicly stated, RHONY has had conversations surrounding divorce, abuse, depression, alcoholism, financial loss, and the process of grieving, to name a few. However, the handling of these conversations is different this time around. In layman’s terms, production and the women made the space for these topics to be covered without awkwardness. They acted sympathetic to each other’s situations and seemed like they cared about what was going on in each other’s personal lives. That is not the case this season. We are watching these conversations unfold without resolution. Obviously, race is always going to be an ongoing conversation, but the way it’s being handled is what makes it hard to digest. It’s created this snowball effect of awkwardness, which then makes the viewing experience uncomfortable. What we used to love about RHONY is that the women would go all the way off on each other and then immediately hug and make up. Now, the “resolutions” we do get feel forced and disingenuous.
Conversations About Race
I feel like Eboni came onto the show wanting the women to understand her on a deeper level, being the only Black woman in their group of white women. She probably wanted the women to take a moment to step outside of their bubble and understand her. Imagine that you were hired as the first Black cast member on an incredibly popular reality show that only featured white women for 12 years straight. The show is set in one of the most diverse cities in our country, and you are filming your first season during one of the most critical elections in modern American history. On top of that, there is a global pandemic and a massive uprising for the rights of Black people. So, there’s going to be pressure. Not just pressure from viewers, but perhaps pressure that you put on yourself.
I don’t blame Eboni for wanting to see where the women stood on political and social issues. As someone who has been the only Black person in spaces such as academia and work, I tend to ask the same type of questions. To some, it’s taboo to talk about serious issues in formal settings, such as dinner parties. However, this isn’t a formal setting. This is The Real Housewives. These women are filming a show where they are paid to be a part of a specific friend group, and these conversations are vital in order for a friendship to start in the first place. The issue is, the women don’t give a f*ck because they’ve never had to experience racism, and therefore they don’t comprehend the severity of the conversations being had. From Luann repeatedly calling Eboni angry, to that god-awful conversation about the election with Ramona, Eboni has been put in a position in which she has to cater to white fragility.
As a Black viewer of the show, I do feel uncomfortable watching these conversations because not only does it look like the burden of having these conversations is placed on Eboni’s shoulders, but they’re also triggering to watch. Having to deal with white people constantly talking down to you in the most passive-aggressive way is overwhelmingly frustrating, mainly because if we are reactionary, we are labeled as “aggressive”. On the flip side, I do think these conversations could be enlightening to white and non-Black POC viewers of the show. This is an actual glimpse of what Black people, Black women in particular, have to deal with in workplaces that are predominantly white.
I’ve seen conversations from white people about how the political issues and social issues discussed are “ruining the show”, and to be honest, it puzzles me. I can understand why Black people might not want to watch such triggering conversations, but I can’t seem to wrap my head around white people blaming Eboni and her willingness to have these conversations for the demise of the show. It seems to me that the fragility that we’ve seen on the show has extended to its audience. When all is said and done, should the blame be on Eboni for the reported decline in ratings, or on the “offended” audience who can’t sit through a few uncomfortable scenes?
RHONY is iconic. You can’t deny the fact that the franchise has a stamp on pop culture. You also can’t deny that this season will probably go down in history as one of the most polarizing seasons in reality TV. I think that for RHONY to get back on track, some things need to happen. The network needs to rehire Dorinda and possibly the margarita lady. The production team needs a clear understanding of what direction they want the season to go in, and they need to give us more of a balance between the serious topics and fun. Finally, the fandom needs to realize that we will never have the glory days of RHONY and a lot of popular Housewife franchises back, and the demise of the show isn’t on one particular person.
Also, give Bershan an apple, she’s incredibly entertaining.
Obviously, a revamp, à la RHOC, can steer the show in the right direction. It’ll give us a refresh that the show desperately needs, while still keeping the overall vibe of RHONY that we love. However, if you are yearning for the glory days of RHONY, binge the old seasons online. Problem solved.
Image: Heidi Gutman / Bravo
As a dedicated Bravo fan, I can’t help but feel that over the past few years, Bravo’s decisions have become as questionable as Scheana Shay’s (previous) choices in men, and its content as boring as Teddi Mellencamp on screen. It’s no secret that the network’s come under fire for multiple problematic cast members and its lack of diverse representation… also, after confusing viewers’ requests for juicy content with Lucy Lucy Apple Juice content. And what has this resulted in? Low ratings for even the network cornerstones like RHONY and RHOBH. No bueno, Bravo. But I’m not here to sh*t on the network. After all, Bravo’s given me endless laughs over Sonja’s shenanigans, defined “real friendship” for me via the Witches of WeHo, scared me sh*tless into never committing a crime thanks to Teresa/Jen/Erika, and has taught me everything I know about fashion through Dorit’s confessional looks. So instead of jumping on the boycott Bravo wagon, I’m here instead to use my PhD in reality TV to offer guidance and recommendations on how to reinvent the network and bring in a bigger, better, more engaged audience.
Promote The Hidden Gems
As a die-hard Bravo fan who chooses to watch TV over having a social life, reading books, or generally bettering myself, I don’t sleep on any content. And because of that, I know Bravo has hidden gems that the average viewer is completely oblivious to, like Shahs of Sunset, Family Karma, and Married to Medicine. These shows bring it all: diversity in race, religion, and sexuality; messy drama; and heroes and villains that you both want to be and love to hate. But I can’t blame the viewers for not knowing what they don’t know. So my recommendation for Bravo is to promote the sh*t out of this content. Viewers are begging you for diversity, reckless casts, and something fresh to pass the time with. It’s not like you have to start from scratch to build this… literally, all you have to do is reallocate your advertising budget.
Pick A Star and Build Around Them
In the early days of Bravo, the network would often pick a star and build a show around their personality, friend group, and/or vocation. Exhibit A: The Millionaire Matchmaker with Patti Stanger. Exhibit B: Vanderpump Rules with Lisa Vanderpump. Exhibit C: The Rachel Zoe Project with Rachel Zoe. This formula completely put Bravo on the map in the ’00s—by finding someone who had either the glam, aspiration, knack for confrontation, or chaotic family/workplace dynamic, the network was able to build an empire around stars like the Manzos and Bethenny Frankel. Now, don’t get me wrong: as a dedicated Housewives fan, I’d never be able to live without my ensemble casts that bring together a bunch of messy, middle-aged women who take lavish trips, get dressed up for game night, and live by the motto “everyone is jealous of me.” But my suggestion to bring back this old formula, pick a star and build around them, would be a fun alternative to punch up the current ensemble staples.
Copy The ‘VPR’ Formula
Vanderpump Rules was the sh*t in its early days. The concept of filming a broke, IRL friend group that had zero expectations for the show created the perfect hurricane of messy AF drama that you seriously couldn’t dream up. Need I remind you about Jax sleeping with Kristen, Laura Leigh (no elaboration required), and “suck a d*ck Diana”? Using early VPR as a case study, my expert recommendation is this: find an unknown group of friends who happen to work at the same establishment and who have less than 1,000 Instagram followers each. Let them be their petty, scrappy, desperate, and jealous selves and the show will write itself. Make note that this cast doesn’t have to work at a bar/restaurant (although the element of late nights and alcohol definitely helps fuel the fire). Whether they’re at a retail location like Very Cavallari or a real estate firm like Selling Sunset, the most important thing is to cast the right people—the location/industry is simply a backdrop to the drama. So what’s next? Bravo has announced a show featuring Kandi Burruss’ Old Lady Gang restaurant is in the works, but why stop there? How about building a show around Southern Charm star Leva Bonaparte’s new restaurant/bar… I mean, the crossover opportunity is built in.
Stop Leaking Sh*t To The Press
You used to be able to expect the unexpected when it came to storylines and conflict. Think Kim Richards v. Lisa Rinna in Amsterdam, Scary Island, Brooks faking cancer, or Manzo v. Manzo v. Manzo. There was a sense of intrigue and anticipation for a new season or episode to premiere, because besides the season trailer, you literally had no idea what madness was about to ensue. But now, thanks to social media, leaked news stories, and cast members spilling tea on podcasts, the element of intrigue that made (nay, forced) you to tune in in real time to watch an episode has been minimized. For example, before RHOA premiered, we already knew that someone allegedly hooked up with a stripper on a cast trip. And, before last year’s RHOP, we already knew the main conflict was going to be Monique and Candiace’s fight, and that it ended in police reports and the group being ripped apart. Sure, having some idea of the conflict can get viewers excited, but it also dulls the element of surprise. So this leads me to my next recommendation: lock down the content. And I know this seems like an impossible task in today’s current media landscape, but hear me out. There’s stuff that fans generally don’t care is “leaked”, like reunion outfits or where the cast goes on their annual filming trip. So continue not giving AF if the ladies post or podcast about that. BUT, when it comes to major feuds and main storylines, I’ll stand firm on (a) stopping the cast and crew from leaking information (The Bachelor franchise’s tight NDAs prove you can prevent people from spilling the tea); and (b) having the cast and their family/friends refrain from engaging in social media back-and-forth that gives away who is pissed at whom, and from speaking on podcasts that give away details before the season airs. And trust me, if fans can’t can’t get their content from social media or the gossip headlines, they’ll put down TikTok on a Tuesday night to tune into RHONY for 43 minutes with no questions asked.
Retire—Or Replace—The Sh*tty Franchises
It’s time to retire the sh*tty franchises. I’m looking at you, Dallas and Orange County. Why? Well, we’ve reached a new level of Housewives saturation because Bravo’s failed to trim the fat—AKA, get rid of the boring/problematic franchises – and some viewers are suffering from Housewives fatigue. And sure, I get it, if you’re a diehard Housewives fan you’ll take PuppyGate and the RHOD crew road-tripping to Oklahoma over no content at all. BUT, this is about Bravo upping its ratings and engaging the casual viewer… which can only happen if the content isn’t a dumpster fire of controversial cast members, repetitive plotlines, and the same old tropes over and over again. Let me take a step back. You know how each friend in your crew has a role? For example, there’s the one who can do makeup, the one who has the hot guy friends, the one who acts like the mom of the group, and so on. I use this friend group analogy as my litmus test to see if a franchise is worth keeping or not. IMO, each franchise should bring its own unique twist to the network… like how RHONY brings fast-paced entertainment, RHOBH brings aspiration, RHOP brings spicy drama, etc. etc. But others, like RHOD and RHOC, bring less to the table than Teddi Mellencamp did in season 10… so retire them quicker than Rinna turned on Denise. Now that Heather Dubrow is coming back to Orange County, they get one more season to turn the ship around, but that’s it. And even if Bravo does retire a couple franchises, they have Miami and Nashville (allegedly) in the pipeline. So, fingers crossed that these new groups of ladies bring the same unfiltered theatrics and enjoyably out-of-touch ego that the early New York and Beverly Hills ensembles did, before self-producing became a thing.
Images: John Tsiavis / Bravo
Presented by SkinnyPop
Summer has arrived, and that means you’re probably in the process of planning numerous exciting parties and gatherings. A friend’s birthday park hang? A long weekend at a family lakehouse? A beach day that will require leaving the house at 8am? So many fun things to do, but wtf are you supposed to drink? I always struggle with the rosé vs. seltzer vs. liquor conundrum, so I decided to make a fun little guide to steer your beverage choice in the right direction.
If you’re planning a day of drinking, just choose which Bravo show’s vibe you want to emulate, and then go with the corresponding drink. This is a totally scientific list, so make sure to choose carefully… or just say f*ck it and drink four different things in one day—what could go wrong with that choice?
‘The Real Housewives of New York City’ – Overpriced Vodka Soda
Nature is, as they say, healing, and that means it’s time to get back out there and spend $14 on a barely drinkable vodka soda. Now that you can finally return to the bar scene, you’ll need all the bottom-shelf liquor you can get to suffer through small talk with finance bros and guys who think their stories about their cryptocurrency investments are a little too interesting. Pro tip: if you want your vodka soda in a wine glass, just ask for The Ramona!
‘Southern Charm’ – A Beer That’s Been In The Sun A Little Too Long
Patricia has long made fun of Austen for his startup beer company, but if TropHop isn’t available near you this summer, any beer will do. Grab a six-pack, a 30-rack, whatever—just make sure it doesn’t get too cold. Your warm can of whatever your boyfriend has lying around the house will go down nice and mediocre, just like this franchise that’s several years past its prime. It’s not fresh, but it’ll get the job done, I guess.
‘Summer House’ – Anything In A Can
If your local liquor store carries Loverboy, that’s obviously ideal, but any alcoholic beverage that comes in a can (excluding beer) will automatically make you feel like a Summer House tenant whose main objective is to cause drama. An ideal day-drinking choice, these drinks go down like water, because they sort of are, and you’ll definitely arrive at dinner sunburnt, tired, and ready to eat everything in sight. Just save a sandwich for Lindsay, we don’t need to get her activated.
‘Vanderpump Rules’ – Cheap Tequila
Nothing says “I wish I was still 23” like choking down a sh*tty tequila shot in your friend’s kitchen, and that’s the exact vibe that the Vanderpump Rules cast has given off for the last few seasons. Just be careful to pace yourself and drink water, because you don’t want Hot Girl Summer to turn into Tequila Katie Summer. No one wants to deal with your rage texts, I promise.
‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ – Expensive Tequila
What’s it like to invest in liquor that you can actually sip without wanting to die? I’d love to know one day, but if you’re already there, congratulations. I still think about Denise’s classic Casamigos reposado order on a daily basis, and you know these women don’t touch anything that’s not top-shelf. Goals.
‘Top Chef’ – Red Wine
Ok, I see you Miss Adult! While your less-mature peers are still pounding tequila shots, you’re having a chill night at home, cooking dinner with a luxurious glass of wine in hand. And not just any wine—you’ve probably assessed which red will pair best with whatever you’re making for dinner, and Padma Lakshmi would be impressed. Congratulations on having your sh*t together this summer.
‘The Real Housewives of Potomac’ – Champagne
We all have that one friend whose entire personality is built around “popping bottles,” and honestly I respect the dedication. If I have too many bubbles, I get a headache that lasts approximately 3-5 business days, but you might be the one who’s over there chugging Veuve like it’s nothing. A nice champagne buzz always inspires 1) fun times and 2) messiness, and the women of RHOP are constantly bringing both. Cheers!
Images: Heidi Gutman/Bravo; Giphy (7)
To My Dearest and Realest Housewives,
Thank you for being there for me during this turbulent time in our country. Pre-pandemic, I used to love to get together with a large group of my girlfriends. Brunch, after-work drinks, dinners, you name it—I was there. But when the pandemic made hanging out with the girlies unsafe for my immunocompromised self, I turned to you, The Real Housewives, to fill the void of my missing girl squad, and you did not disappoint. Not only did you keep me entertained, but you satiated my need to socialize—quite possibly forever. Thank you for your service.
Listen, before I discovered your life-changing franchise, I actually missed going to brunch with my gal pals, but now thanks to Ramona and LuAnn, I know that brunch is code for blackmail and should be avoided at all costs. The same goes for cocktail parties and all vacations. I never want to see my friends again.
Watching you fight with each other incessantly didn’t make me feel less alone, but it did make me appreciate my loneliness. Sure, I might have been completely by myself, but at least no one was yelling at me or calling me a “prostitution whore” in front of Andy Cohen. Once I found you, I no longer cared that I couldn’t experience my own life in present day New York. Turns out, watching you wreak havoc in the before times was all I’d ever needed. I fell in love with you immediately, ya habibi.
Unable to see my own friends because my rare immune disorder made even outdoor hangs risky for me, there was something so healing about watching your friendships unravel right in front of my eyes. After going months without seeing a single friend, there’s something very cathartic about watching Ramona Singer berate Bethenny Frankel on the Brooklyn Bridge in a moment that was so peak 2008 that I didn’t even have anxiety about them not wearing masks. Ditto for when Kelly Bensimon told Bethenny, “I am up here and you are down here” when they met for cocktails in Manhattan. So this is what I’m missing? This is what female friendship looks like?? Thank God I’m quarantined with my brother then! He would never scream “Jovani” at me during my cabaret (mostly because he doesn’t know what either of those things are, but still). I love being a guy’s girl, it’s so fun and interesting and I don’t miss my girlfriends at all!
I used to think it was a red flag when a woman said “I’m not friends with other girls. They’re just way too much drama.” But now? I’ve seen the light. Girls really ARE too much drama. I mean, you throw a ravioli in someone’s face ONE TIME and suddenly you stop getting invited places? Grow up, drama queens. It wasn’t even my fault that I upstaged that charity event for a sick baby by bringing twenty Hell’s Angels as my plus-ones. I said I was sorry, what else do they want me to do? Actually donate to the cause? Whatever, I guess it’s true what they say, money really can’t buy you class.
So when my healthy, non-high-risk friends all got covid tests and safely rented a cabin in the Catskills together last summer, I was relieved not to be invited! I’ve seen season 6 of RHONY, okay? I saw how they treated Aviva, and I was not about to let my medical pump suffer the same fate as her prosthetic leg. Besides, I don’t even care that I wasn’t invited, I’m having way more fun watching my brother watch the Michael Jordan docuseries anyway! Have fun in the Bezerkshires, bitches! I don’t need your Scary Island energy in my life, I’ve got the back of my brother’s head to keep me company.
Now that I’m fully vaxxed and the pandemic is seemingly coming to a close, I’ve transitioned into a different state of fear. No longer am I afraid of Covid, now I’m scared of something much more insidious…women. Go to dinner with my friends??? Why? So they can accuse me of having a drinking problem? I don’t think so. Support my best friend’s charity event? What, and get ambushed with questions about my husband’s financial problems?? I don’t care that I “don’t have a husband,” you bitches have had it out for me since I threw those tiki torches in the Hamptons. Get over it already! They were barely on fire and what Ramona did to the Fish Room is way worse. So what, I “ruined your engagement party” because I said your fiancé was cheating on you, are you really still mad about that? And no, I do not want to attend your son’s christening, ok? It’s hard to have FOMO for a party that’s going to end in handcuffs.
Why would I ever choose to venture back out into a world of conflict when I could stay at home and finish bingeing RHONJ? Those ladies would never judge me for flipping a table and unlike some people in my life, they don’t mind a little hair pulling. Plus I’m pretty sure Joe is about to go to prison and I wouldn’t miss that for all the maskless parties in the world (that I’m totally invited to). Screw your brunches, I’d rather hang out with my real friends, The Housewives.
With Love From Your Biggest Anti-Socialite Fan,
After 13 long years, we finally got our first Black Housewife on The Real Housewives of New York, Eboni K. Williams. I was so excited because I finally got to see a Black woman on one of my favorite shows ever. However, I quickly noticed that the fan reaction to Eboni being cast wasn’t necessarily about her and what she could bring to RHONY. Rather, people were excited that someone would call out the ignorance on the show. I had the same sentiment when Tiffany Moon was casted on The Real Housewives of Dallas and when Garcelle Beauvais was announced as a cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Adding diversity isn’t going to automatically solve the ignorance within your shows, nor is it the responsibility of women of color to solve the issues for you.
Let’s be honest, Eboni, Garcelle, and Tiffany weren’t hired because they were close friends with the women on their respective shows. Bravo noticed that there was a severe diversity issue within the franchises. I mean, it’s not like people of color don’t exist in these cities, although many of the white women in these franchises have friend groups that are, for the most part, very, very, white. So, when you throw in a person of color, it’s bound to change the dynamic a bit. However, casting a woman of color for the sole purpose of diversity doesn’t do any justice for these shows, especially when their white castmates aren’t aware of their internalized ignorance.
Let’s take Garcelle Beauvais for example. Beauvais, an actress and talk show host, is the first Black woman ever to be cast on RHOBH, and many people, including myself, were very excited. RHOBH is known as the Housewives franchise that represents opulence, glamour, and women simply existing in luxury. It’s not often that you get to see a Black woman simply exist without stereotypes being pushed upon her. Beauvais seemed to feel disconnected with the ladies, though, and later stated that it was possibly because the ladies did not want to feel the wrath of Black social media had they come for her. (Also, yes, I know she missed some events, but Kyle Richards and Lisa Rinna have also missed events, and one complained then.)
Beauvais’ disconnect with Kyle Richards especially was a point of contention. Things got extremely heated between the two when Richards accused Beauvais of not paying a $5,000 donation. Beauvais was rightfully upset, especially since Richards waited until the reunion to bring this up. This was problematic because there is a common stereotype that Black people do not pay their bills on time or do not have as much money as they “flaunt. For Richards to bring up the donation not being paid in a public forum feeds into that stereotype. Does this make Kyle a racist? No. Did she subconsciously feed into a microaggression? Yes. But more than anything else, it shows me that the women, especially Kyle, did not get to know Garcelle on a personal level. Had Kyle done that, regardless of the tension between the two, she probably would have reached out to Garcelle directly to eradicate the issue at hand. Now, because she did not, the conversation about her microaggression had to be had.
Eboni K. Williams, an attorney and notable news anchor, joined RHONY as its first Black cast member. Eboni is brilliant, fashion-forward, and has a remarkable personal story. Yet, I felt like the only thing people wanted to talk about when she was announced to be on the show was her dynamic with Ramona Singer. Singer, who is known to be rather standoffish, came into controversy this past summer due to her COVID and All Lives Matter comments. While Singer did apologize, some people felt as though she was not reprimanded enough publicly. While Singer’s comments were reprehensible, it is not the responsibility of Williams to educate her. Williams has been asked constantly about her dynamic with Singer, rather than her whole dynamic with the cast itself. While the topic of race has come up this season, and personally, I think all of the women (so far) have done a great job of listening and wanting to learn. However, I do think there is something that needs to be pointed out. RHONY, for 12 years, centered around white women, so if Eboni makes a criticism or observation about her dynamic with white women—such as confronting Ramona about her comments on “the help” or sparring with Luann over supposedly implying the other ladies don’t have an education—it’s not so much a dig, more so her perspective as the only Black woman in a group with only white women. This might come as a culture shock to some of the women on the show and viewers; however, as a Black person who is sadly used to being the only Black person in a room, expressing our dismay or observations isn’t meant to start an issue, but to authentically express our feelings.
Dr. Tiffany Moon, an anesthesiologist and entrepreneur, is the first Asian woman cast on RHOD. Tiffany’s case is a bit different from Garcelle’s and Eboni’s. Dr. Moon was cast after the controversy surrounding cast member Brandi Redmond. Redmond came under fire after a racist video of hers resurfaced of her imitating and mocking Asian women. Suddenly, when Dr. Moon was cast, there was this unspoken pressure for her to speak to Redmond about this video. Why is that Tiffany’s responsibility? Why is it that the other cast members, with the exception of D’andra Simmons, coddled Redmond instead of publicly reprimanding her for her actions? It’s apparent to me that while Dr. Moon might have been someone the producers of the show were thinking of casting already, but it wasn’t until Redmond’s video that the actual casting took place.
Let’s make this clear. No matter how many conversations Tiffany has with Brandi, Brandi’s actions are still out there. Dr. Moon cannot be the “fix” for Redmond’s blatant racism. As a viewer, I felt terrible for Tiffany, especially with the constant microaggressions and racist remarks thrown in her face by castmate Kameron Westcott. Westcott compared Moon’s native food to dog food, a rather racist stereotype. Westcott also called Moon ignorant and implied that Moon was ignorant to her own race, and even as of recently, in a now-deleted tweet, Westcott compared a clown emoji that Moon used to “white-face”. It would be an understatement to say that Westcott has internalized racism towards Asian people. This is what happens when you cast people of color for the sake of meeting your diversity quota.
It is not the responsibility of people of color to educate white people on racism. To assume that casting Black, Brown, and Asian people on your shows is the ultimate fix to the racism issues within your cast is incredibly ignorant. Especially because this creates an awkward atmosphere between people of color and white people who obviously have different experiences. To leave the POC that you’ve casted out to dry, and unconsciously force them to educate white people, is not okay. This is a call for Bravo to use its resources to educate its talent on racial biases and stereotypes, especially being a network that celebrates inclusivity. Do not cast people of color just for the sake of casting them; it’s redundant and offensive.
Images: Sophy Holland, Jonathan Zizzo, John Tsiavis / Bravo; KamWestcott / Twitter
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When it comes to TV viewing habits, we all have our own routines, and it can be difficult when anything—or anyone—encroaches on your sacred (couch) space. But unless you live alone and don’t let anyone into your space (which like, respect), inevitably you’re going to have to watch TV with others at some point. And unfortunately, that even includes watching Real Housewives with the straight men in your life. Whether you live with a significant other, are staying with your parents for a while, or just happen to be in the vicinity of any non-Bravo-watching man, just know that you are so strong. Today, we’re bringing you a vital resource to make it through this trying time: ideal responses to some FAQs that your dad/husband/male friend will undoubtedly be asking over the course of a 43-minute episode. Godspeed.
Who are these people?
When faced with a question like this, it’s easy to overshare and dive into the origin story of each Housewife, but that’s not what your dad/boyfriend/brother/pizza delivery guy who got too sucked in is asking. He probably doesn’t even know what city you’re watching, so start with broad strokes (are we watching New Jersey or Beverly Hills?), and get more specific (which woman is planning a vow renewal as a last-ditch attempt at saving her marriage?) if he signals interest. If one of the women has been arrested or married to an athlete, I recommend dropping that into the conversation at the first opportune moment.
Who’s the blonde one?
If your male viewing companion asks the name of a specific cast member, this is a fundamentally different question than a general “who are these people?” Whoever he’s asking about, he thinks she is HOT, and he’d like to look up her Instagram to see if she’s worth a thirst follow. I won’t tell you how to live your life, but if it’s your boyfriend/husband/significant other, shut that sh*t down and tell him he doesn’t need to know. If it’s your dad, just let him have this one.
Is she the one that sells alcohol?
This is a bit of a trick question. Based on the sheer volume of Bravolebrities with liquor brands, chances are whoever he’s asking about does sell alcohol. This could apply to women on nearly every show on Bravo, so it’s kind of like asking if a millennial in New York has a leopard print midi skirt. Like, probably! But he’s actually thinking of Bethenny Frankel, so unless you’re watching seasons 1-3 or 7-11 of RHONY, the answer is no.
What are they fighting about?
If he’s inquiring about the source of tension within the group, congratulations, you’ve gotten his attention. He might pretend not to care about what’s happening, but now he’s invested enough to want the backstory so he can form his own opinion about whether What’s-Her-Name was being shady to The Tall One. He’s no longer trying to grab the remote to change the channel to “check the score of the game” every five minutes, and if you do a good enough job selling him on the storylines, he might even tell you to play another episode when this one ends. Good work.
How do you watch this stuff?
As a dedicated Housewives viewer, it’s important to stand your ground, and not to let anyone disrespect the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve put into this journey. If a man in your life is spewing negativity, feel free to remind him of the many hours he’s spent watching Bitcoin YouTube videos, or random strangers play video games on Twitch, or *shudders* golf. We all have our different viewing habits, and trust me, there are way more embarrassing things to be obsessed with than Bravo.
Images: Steve Dietl/Bravo
Who doesn’t love The Real Housewives? Many focal points of pop culture have come from this incredible franchise, and the gift keeps on giving with every season and every new city. However, as a faithful viewer of this iconic reality TV phenomenon, I’ve noticed that there is a huge double standard in the handling of each franchise from the network. As a viewer of the shows for years, it’s become more apparent that the Black women on the network are being held to a higher standard than their white counterparts, and that has to change.
Listen, let’s be real: We love a good confrontation. That’s why we indulge in reality TV, and The Real Housewives is no exception. The issue, however, is how fights on different franchises are framed and handled by the network. Let’s use The Real Housewives of New Jersey vs. The Real Housewives of Atlanta, for example. Teresa Guidice has built a brand for herself, mainly because she “flipped a table” (it was a push, by the way) at her fellow cast member Danielle Staub. This outburst is considered iconic and is remembered by many as a defining moment in pop culture. Teresa also pushed down reunion host and executive producer of The Real Housewives franchise, Andy Cohen, during the season two reunion, once again during an argument with Staub.
But when you look at The Real Housewives of Atlanta and the physical altercations that have occurred, none of them are defined by media outlets as “iconic”. From Porsha pulling Kenya’s hair to Kenya and NeNe arguing, any time the women on RHOA show any passionate emotion, they get labeled as contributing to a stereotype. In this clip, uploaded by Bravo, Andy Cohen proudly asks the women, “Who is the most ratchet?”. The word ratchet, in this case, is to describe “ghetto” behavior. It’s culturally offensive, and it’s mind-boggling to me that the network would choose such rhetoric to describe the women who played a key role in putting The Real Housewives franchise on the map. RHONJ, meanwhile, has had several physical altercations between cast members, including hair-pulling and drink-throwing, and yet they are not labeled in such an egregious manner. The Black women on the network have to uphold this rule about not being violent, but the white women on the network do not, and instead are praised for the same behavior.
Casting: Always Having To Bring It
It’s no secret that in order to be a Real Housewife, you have to be on your A-game. That means keeping up with the group by sometimes stirring the pot and having an impressive personal storyline. But, as any viewer knows, not every single Housewife has consistently brought it. I’ve wondered over the years why RHOA “friend” and fan-favorite Marlo Hampton has not been promoted to a main cast member (given a peach). Marlo brings the drama; she’s also hilarious and has an incredible personal story. Marlo was raised in foster care and is the legal guardian to her two nephews, who lovingly call her “Munty.” It’s been speculated that she does not have a peach because of past legal issues. I find this odd, because there have been plenty of women cast on Bravo shows with a less-than-spotless record. A few months before Kelly Dodd’s inaugural season as a Housewife, she was caught making racist remarks towards Black men outside of a restaurant. Tinsley Mortimer boasted about her arrest and mugshot that happened just months before she joined the RHONY cast, and I personally believe her arrest is what got her cast in the first place. RHONY newbie Leah McSweeney spoke openly about her arrest, and Luann de Lesseps’ assault on a police officer was a focal point of season 10. I do think that whether you like Marlo or not, it is clear as day that the network picks and chooses what is “acceptable behavior” to become a Real Housewife.
It’s not just legal issues—there are also double standards in what the Housewives are expected to divulge about their personal lives. Porsha Williams, another RHOA star, was demoted in her seventh season, because according to Andy Cohen, she was not very open about her personal life. I find that ironic because, in the ninth season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, fans complained that some of the women were not open about the impending lawsuits against them. At the season 6 reunion for RHONY, Ramona Singer was adamant that she wouldn’t comment on her divorce, even though the split was already public information. Yet, none of those ladies were demoted for not sharing enough. It seems to me that the Black women on the network are held to a higher standard in terms of how much they share about themselves and how they’ve conducted themselves in the past.
The Perception Of Black Wealth
At the season 5 Real Housewives of Potomac reunion, Andy Cohen brought up the fact that the ladies had become more financially independent due to the show. I somewhat understood the segment’s intent until a very uncomfortable exchange between Cohen and former cast member Monique Samuels occurred. Cohen had insinuated that Monique’s husband, Chris Samuels, was not well-off after playing for the NFL so many years ago. I found myself scratching my head because Monique was very open on the show about the financial successes that she and her husband had acquired after his NFL career through investments. Viewers are also aware that Monique was very wealthy and was one of the only women on the show to live in Potomac, a very prestigious and expensive community. So why is it that Andy Cohen felt the need to try to contest that? There is a stereotype toward African Americans that we cannot manage our money and rarely make smart financial decisions. This stereotype ignores the economic disparities that Black people have faced as a result of our being.
Andy’s conversation with the women of Potomac exemplifies a vast double standard, especially when the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are involved in lawsuit, after lawsuit, after lawsuit, and are still seen as a franchise that promotes opulence and wealth. Whether Andy Cohen knew it or not, by questioning Monique on how she obtained her wealth, he was feeding into a stereotype. In my opinion, we should uplift and celebrate Black people that have acquired their own wealth, especially in an economy that white people dominate due to systemic racism.
I am not here looking to cancel anyone. I believe in accountability and progression. With social justice movements becoming amplified more than ever in the past year, I hope that Bravo changes its treatment of the Black women on its network. These women have given Bravo so much in terms of content and notoriety that it is only right for the network to go out of its way to ensure that this type of rhetoric and treatment stops.
Images: Sophy Holland/Bravo