#RHONY, public figures, Reality TV, Television, Women

#RHONY: Does Bethenny Want to Be Here?!

Last year, there were numerous reports about Bethenny Frankel threatening to quit Real Housewives of New York during filming. Press outlets stated it was due to the fact that she and Carole Radziwill, her former on-camera comrade, were not getting along. Allegedly, Bethenny was at her wit’s end, devastated by the whole debacle.

Ultimately, we saw how the demise of that friendship played out. It went from tentatively terse to flat-out terrible. While Bethenny seemed to tantrum rather than ice out her friend (Carole was the one to act too cool for school), Carole is now speaking out bitterly via Twitter when there’s really no need to. Unlike Bethenny, she’s not coming back to RHONY next season.

Which brings us to the point of Bethenny returning. Several seasons ago, RHONY fans expressed frustrations with the Skinny Girl when she didn’t show up to filmed parties and other events captured by cameras.

“So, Bethenny can just dial it in this season?” one recapper lamented to me at the time.

Since Bethenny was considered the Queen Bee with the clever quips that kept the franchise feisty, she was still contributing to the storyline even as it seemed unfair that she could bow out of events at her choosing. That season and this past one – when she was a no-show at Ramona’s skincare line party – she telepathically conveyed to the audience: I’m too good for this. I’m a REAL businesswoman, not a “Real Housewife.”

One friend told me she completely understands Bethenny’s stance: “She’s the only one who really had to pull herself up by the bootstraps, work hard and acquire her wealth all on her own. There was no rich husband. She didn’t have a dime from her parents because they are estranged. Bethenny, therefore, cannot relate to all the other women on this show.”

Although at times it seems Bethenny really doesn’t want to be there at all, this show has given her a platform to promote her products and the visibility of her brand. Overall, she does have many hardcore fans who will defend her to the death (it’s reality TV, but this is only slight hyperbole). Her one-liners are always original and off-the-cuff, and when she’s in the wrong, she knows how to play her cards right, garnering sympathy and armed with defense tactics.

At this past reunion, host Andy Cohen hardly seemed the fair arbitrator with fans crying “Bethenny bias”, and Bethenny stans firmly on her side, deeming Carole Radziwill to be the devil.

Bethenny looked pained and severely constipated (in fact, she had talked about the latter in Colombia on the cast trip) throughout the season – again, a season during which she had reportedly threatened to quit the show altogether. However, she appeared confident at the reunion, vicious even and ready to tear Carole apart. She seemed to take a deep breath of fresh air in vindication and while Carole could have creamed her with a barrage of receipts, complaints and having other ladies on her side, Bethenny shouted the loudest, stood her ground and with Andy Cohen clearly in her corner, she appeared triumphant at the end.

Bethenny Frankel has a love-hate relationship with reality television, specifically with RHONY and with fame overall. What makes her most miserable is what she is inspired to confront…again and again. Walking away is not an option. The successful businesswoman didn’t make a name for herself by being a quitter.

When it comes to Bravo, she is either a glutton for punishment or a genius who feels that all risks – and all hassles, like business parties so “beneath her” that she’ll decline without hesitation- are worth the ultimate rewards. She is smart and shrewd enough to know what those rewards are, and furthermore, what they could be, and see that she gets them at the end of the RHONY journey.

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#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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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: ‘A Star is Born’ with Babs Kavovit? Looks Like Everyone Is Getting Along (For Now)

The ladies of Real Housewives of New York seem to turn on a dime and do astounding 180s on the regular. Everyone was feuding last we checked. Dorinda Medley and Sonja Morgan were at each other’s throats, and the Queen B (Bethenny Frankel, of course) was on the outs with everyone except Luann De Lesseps and Sonja when the RHONY reunion was filmed.

Well, that was then and this is now. Today, it seems the dysfunctional clique – sans the recently ousted Carole Radziwill- is living it up in the Berkshires and having a grand ole time filming RHONY’s upcoming season.

With them to liven up the party is new “Housewife” Barbara Kovovit, a construction CEO who was caught on camera disparaging Lu and Tom’s ill-fated union two seasons ago. Her predictions were proven to be correct, but now it seems all is forgiven from that awkward hot mic moment.

I am always curious as to how producers determine who will make a great “Real Housewife” and there must be something particularly alluring about Barbara when it comes to Shed Media and Bravo’s standards.

I think one major draw is that she is someone who is greatly committed to her work, has made a name for herself professionally, and because of that, can confidently go toe to toe (and tit for tat) with Bethenny.

Expect that duo to get along impressively for at least Babs’s initial season, giving new meaning to the phrase “A Star is Born.”

In the meantime, check out Bethenny’s Instagram stories from the Berkshires. The notorious love-hate dynamic between her and Ramona is currently set to “love.”

…Or at least that’s how things appear on social media – for today.

This goes without saying, but I’ll utter the terribly banal phrase anyway: STAY TUNED.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: Tinsley Is Taken-Aback (As Is Team Carole), Casting a Newbie

In the process of being incredibly flummoxed by Bethenny Frankel’s outspoken gripes, Carole Radziwill goes to great lengths to disprove them. In the third installment of the Real Housewives of New York reunion, Carole decides to harp on the Skinny Girl’s words about her friendship with Tinsley Mortimer, stating that they’re “not that close.”

Mortimer appears to take issue with these words and expresses her hurt.

See the video here: Carole Disses Tinsley

OPINION ALERT🚨: Carole often conveys that RHONY is the platform calling for honesty and telling it like it is, but it is in these instances where Carole comes across as insensitive and too immersed in the fight. I hated it earlier in the season when she told Dorinda that Sonja referred to her (Dorinda) as fat. Perhaps Carole’s rationale was that the camera footage would later be shown anyway. Either way, she only came across as Callous Carole and an unnecessary harbinger of mean girl gossip.

Because of how intense and unmerciful Bethenny’s fight has seemed, I’ve tended to side with Carole while witnessing the duo’s demise. But seeing Carole cavalierly toss her friendship with Tins into this ring enforces the point that all of these ladies take individualized turns being atrocious.

I’ve seen other “Team Carole” tweeters respond in a similar fashion. “This only reminds me that Carole is…maybe…15 percent better than Bethenny,” one wrote me in a direct message.

NOW, BACK TO THE SCOOP: While rumors have circulated regarding who will replace Carole, with speculation surrounding Jill Zarin, a source close to production tells me that Shed Media is focused on bringing a newbie into the mix rather than a former Housewife: “It would most likely be someone who is, or would be, a friend to Tinsley. The audience and critics feel that Tinsley makes zero sense on this show, but she has this chance to prove herself by returning next season. The most logical thing is to bring someone in who would be a friend to her, especially now with Carole gone.”

The source adds that “the Jill Zarin thing is incredibly far-fetched” and that production found rumors about Jill’s return as a full time Housewife to be amusing.

OPINION 🚨: If the new cast pick is someone strong, intelligent and accomplished in business, viewers will be more incentivized to keep tuning in. Bethenny needs a cast mate who challenges her or she will eventually check out altogether. She has made it clear time and again, and emphasized it by not attending Ramona’s skincare party, that these are people she films with rather than individuals she respects IRL.

I’m all for a casting curve ball that disrupts the RHONY Queen B’s game…and calls for new moves.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Psychology, public figures, Reality TV

#RHONY Psychology: Is the Bar Set Low for Your “Bethenny”? (Opinion)

Disclaimer: The following post may be deemed “psychobabble” as it reflects thoughts of a former psychology major, rather than psychologist or licensed mental health professional.

It is a residual learned helplessness from elementary school interactions with mean girls. When we come across someone brash, opinionated and intimidating, it’s somewhat instinctive how we set the bar lower, how we’ll lap up the love we do receive – between thorny barbs that prick us repetitively – like a little lost puppy dog.

As with an A-Plus student, someone like Bethenny Frankel has a podium to stand on so we are at a loss for words during debates. The little girls inside of us, upon recognizing approval from the harshest of critics, prize the praise of a “Bethenny” over the kind words of someone softer and more sensitive.

Because she is one who suffers fools lightly (so to speak), her moments of tenderness and vulnerability stand out more prominently than they would in an easygoing individual, and a fortress of respect surrounds her.

While I did not agree with certain actions of Carole Radziwill this season of Real Housewives of New York (RHONY), – her need to repeat atrocious things said to people behind their backs could perhaps be justified by the fact that cameras were capturing everything – I had compassion for her after witnessing her evisceration by cast mate and former buddy Bethenny Frankel.

No one on this show is without faults and the argument about “setting the bar lower” could be applied to other cast mates too. However, that would entail several other separate, lengthy articles. I’m going to stick to Bethenny in this particular one, while bearing in mind the argument about allowances made for Ramona Singer. We can save that Megillah (and ones devoted to Sonja, Luann, Dorinda…) for another time.

Think back to your days vying for the popular classmate’s attention and wishing you were in “the clique.” Remember laughing at the girl in the back brace who the cool kids were taunting? Would you put up with and participate in that sort of behavior now? I’m sure you are saying “no”, but if you think hard, you have probably made other mental adjustments for rude people.

You may know someone blunt who won’t back down and listen to you finish your points in a discussion – even when what they’re spewing is entirely wrong. It may be because they’re so often right and regarded as the “voice of reason” in other instances.

Despite some aggravation, you say to yourself, consciously or subconsciously, “She’s tough, but has chosen ME as her friend…ME!!!” So you listen and bite your tongue to keep from objecting.

This does reflect a collective self esteem and the desire we have to be appreciated by people we see as accomplished, authoritative and determined. As confident as one could argue that Manhattan socialite and bestselling author Carole Radziwill is, she is not above succumbing to another’s flattery and adoration of her.

Avid RHONY viewer and reality TV blogger Essence Capp observes: “When Carole met Bethenny at Luann’s during Season 7, she was almost ‘star struck.’ She really did seem in awe of her during the early period of their friendship.”

Bethenny called Carole the “cool girl” during that time and Carole (no doubt) loved it. I cannot blame her at all: I’ve been a a part of this type of dynamic in my own social life. Who doesn’t appreciate and value the praise of a highly discerning individual? Bethenny had already set herself apart as being that fussy, fault finding judge whose BS detector was extra fine-tuned.

My husband will say to me “Forget elementary school! That was 100 years ago!” However, it is the experience of playground and classroom interactions, including past swift assessments made by teachers and peers alike, that shaped who we are today. Whether we are willing to reflect and admit to it or not, the social and academic scrutiny in our formative years can affect us throughout young adulthood and beyond.

Knowing this allows us to ask ourselves “Why exactly do I need this person in my life? Why does their opinion of me matter so much?”

Unfortunately, as the Carole-Bethenny breakup attests, it can take a falling out for us to step back and decide what is worth fighting for…and what isn’t.

As I write this, Carole is still tweeting about the fights with her former friend. In doing so, she comes across to many as the Bitter Betty of the duo. Perhaps it’s because she feels that now that she won’t be returning to RHONY, she has nothing to lose and can totally go rogue.

It is best, when there’s no reality show in the picture, to be the better person. In the fashion of those beloved by Bravo who can look scornfully upon the Housewives and laugh at them, Carole could bow out gracefully and opt to “plead the fifth” instead.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: Luann De Lesseps Talks “Taking Sobriety Seriously”, Disses Dorinda

They say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but Luann De Lesseps must feel she’s just built a fortress.

In an interview with Michael Cook for Out In Jersey, the Real Housewives of New York star says cabaret has been a lifeline. She discusses her show Countess and Friends and says she’s committed to the staying power of her sobriety this time around.

As if her partying ways were documented 25 years ago, she even alludes to cast mate Dorinda Medley as being in a category of people that “drink too much and get sloppy.” So, we can understand why the two of them aren’t so close – as opposed to Bethenny Frankel who is “not a big drinker.” My, how the tides of Bravolebrity alliances have turned!

“Since I have quit drinking-I am thirty five days sober today by the way-I feel so much better and I just feel really good,” De Lesseps told Cook, “I feel in control, empowered, happy and ready. I am really not tempted to drink right now. That is my state of mind.”

The Countess also refers to her relationship with family members as being in a much better place (from when reports surfaced earlier about her children suing her). She says her kids are most important to her above all else, which solidifies her adamancy about not abusing alcohol again.

“Listen, I will be honest, I had my own hiccup with my children which we all know about because it was very public. We have reconciled and everything is cool.”

Fans will have to stay tuned and watch next season of RHONY to see how De Lesseps maintains (what she describes as) a “lifestyle change.”

“I am not perfect, although I try to be. But I am not. What happened to me happened. I dealt with it and now this time…I really feel that it is sticking for me this time around.”

(Photo Source: Bustle.com)

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, public figures, Reality TV

#RHONY: Crap with the Countess…& Chicago?

A source tells me that Luann De Lesseps’ personal publicist recently fired her. This is ALLEGED, please note, but the source goes on to add that it was because Lu wasn’t being totally truthful about her troubles — and was, generally, a handful to deal with.

This report explains why Bethenny Frankel stepped into the role of spokeswoman for Lu, and why she was the one to give Dave Quinn at People talking points for an article about Luann not attending the reunion (to undergo round two of rehab for alcohol addiction).

The source adds that the folks at Bravo “don’t want to handle her shit anymore.” An interesting Twitter handle to follow that keeps up with the RHONY-Lu shenanigans, and appears to be impressively in the know and legitimately well-connected is @myfeetonfleek.

Celebrity gossip columnist Rob Shuter (The Naughty Gossip) recently expressed to podcast host Kate Casey (Reality Life with Kate Casey) that Luann is at a point where she doesn’t “need” RHONY and has a very full life outside of the show with friends, a packed itinerary and a successful cabaret show.

He said fans should not be surprised if Lu departs the RHONY franchise to focus on family, health and sobriety. Shuter also mentioned that producers from the longstanding Broadway production of Chicago were at one of her #CountessAndFriends (cabaret) performances.

Luann De Lesseps starring in Chicago in the near future? Could that actually happen?

For now, without official personal PR representation, the best person to ask might just be Bethenny!

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