#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV, RHONJ, Women

The Reality of Reality TV Friendships

I often marvel at how perplexed fans are by the demise of a “friendship” between women on reality television. While casting directors often choose people who are familiar with one another, they also look for personalities that are dynamic enough for on-camera clashes and fireworks.

Sometimes a televised kinship is just that, a business arrangement of sorts where the women go back to their real friends during the months of no filming. In other instances, like colleagues in various professions, true personal bonds are formed and cast members do get together when the cameras aren’t rolling.

However the fates of these reality TV friendships are always uncertain due to group dynamics ahead, seeing one another in new environments, and after being asked dozens of questions about the other person by persistent (and often meddlesome) producers.

Last season of Real Housewives of New Jersey, Margaret Joseph was seen bonding with Danielle Staub and this season, according to Staub’s recent appearance on The Wendy Williams Show, the two had a massive falling out during the filming months. We also had the terse and painfully tumultuous “breakup” of Carole Radziwill and Bethenny Frankel on Real Housewives of New York, that left the viewing audience taking sides. On this season of Real Housewives of Dallas, currently airing, Leeanne Locken And D’Andra Simmons seem to be falling apart at the seams. With the latter, as Locken explained on the podcast Everything Iconic With Danny Pellegrino , there had been some particularly hurtful drama when they tried to work together on a prior reality show four years ago. Until this interview, most of us were unaware of the deep wounds and buried grudges that date back to that earlier project. Having a chaotic history coated by several layers of Southern politeness may have finally brought simmering resentments to a boil.

In many of our lives – the lives of regular people who will not be featured on television – we have lifelong friends as well as people who were once friends who we’ve lost touch with. Then there are friends we’ve lost – not to death, but to life circumstances, differences in lifestyles or geographical distances.

Sometimes women become too close and confide their deepest darkest secrets and a confidence is broken. Other times, we may come to see something in a friend that compels us to pull away. We don’t have producers asking us to articulate exactly what is going on in those moments or encouraging us to hash it out. If we did, we might be able to salvage those friendships through communication we wouldn’t otherwise employ – or more likely, an all-out screaming, glass smashing row would ensue.

The point is that although we all want to be part of a Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda dynamic a la Sex in the City, the headlines about longtime colleagues SJP and Kim Catrall not being able to stand one another attest to how fraught and complicated female relationships can be when you strip away the fictional script.

As a child I always thought it would be incredible to have a huge group of friends, but today I have about 6 or 7 really close friends. According to Facebook, I have 1,361 “friends” though I think I have broken bread with about fifteen percent of that contingent.

Like Leeanne and D’Andra, Margaret and Danielle, Bethenny and Carole, I have had my own friend fallouts over the years and although they cannot compare in volatility to the televised versions, I still wish all friends and acquaintances were life-long ones.

The notion of having everybody adore you forever is a childhood fantasy. As adults, we grow and change, our priorities shift. Fallouts inevitably result from differences in politics, beliefs and the loss of commonalities we once shared.

Whether a producer is in our ear or not, intuition dictates when it is time to walk away.

(Photos courtesy of: Bravo TV/NBC Universal, Us Weekly, People)

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