Below Deck, Reality TV

#BelowDeck: The Life of Rhylee

When Rhylee Gerber stepped on board this season of Bravo’s Below Deck, she was confident she had an advantage as a junior member of the yacht crew. She, unlike her crew mates, had actually been a captain on a ship. She will go on to remind us of this fact continually throughout this season, in each of her confessionals.

Ballsy and from Alaska, where the population of Y chromosomal individuals outweighs the XX, she was used to being in charge and was easily “one of the boys.” However, a fishing ship (which can be fraught with its own dangers, requiring a capable captain) is completely different than a super yacht chartering guests.

When Rhylee is told to respect rank and ends up arguing with her superiors, it is difficult for her as someone who has been in charge and is used to being the one to make decisions.

Some viewers feel that Rhylee is a woman surrounded by men who are treating her poorly, and as the only female in that particular group, she is in the right to stand up for herself. Others opine that – just like Chief Stew Kate Chastain and Captain Lee said to one another privately- Rhylee needs to be mindful of the ship’s hierarchy, listen more and respect those with yachting experience.

It is always difficult, as well as frustrating, to come to a job in a junior position when you have been the boss in a related profession. If we were to take genders out of the equation, we could easily say Rhylee needs to step in line and realize she is not a senior member of the crew now. The problem is that viewers have noticed some misogyny with regard to how crew mates Chandler, Ross and Ashton talk (down?) to and about Rhylee.

The audience is divided with some saying “poor Rhylee” and others positively frustrated with her, wishing she would swallow her pride and respect rank.

What are your thoughts?

How do you feel Rhylee’s male crew mates are treating her, fairly or unfairly?

Are you Team Rhylee or Team Everybody Else?

(Photo courtesy of Bravo TV/NBC Universal)

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Below Deck, Reality TV

#BelowDeck: Storminess on Land

This season of Bravo’s Below Deck is off to a great start. I personally prefer Kate Chastain’s cool demeanor as “Chief Stew” to Hannah Ferrier’s penchant for flying off the handle. Hannah tends to get a little too snippy and snooty with her crew for my liking, which is why I view Kate as a breath of fresh air. It is totally a subjective thing, a personal preference and you can feel free to disagree: Kate is more my speed.

I also had an incredible interview with Kate for Huffington Post during last season of Below Deck. We came away from that discussion with mutual admiration and respect, and exchanged some tweets afterwards. I’ll admit, that probably makes me somewhat biased and in Lisa Rinna fashion: I own it, baby.

So it’s been disheartening to hear about an overall miserable experience with Kate!

A source conveys that this is a season that resulted in more bad blood than any prior season of Below Deck. A myriad of simmering resentments have made their way over to social media, so look for clues there.

Furthermore, if my sources are correct, I only see it getting worse from episode to episode. Keep in mind that we are only at the start of the current season.

Previews indicate someone will be fired. There is already some speculation (let me emphasize that it is not confirmed at this point) that the “offense” – if that can accurately characterize what transpired – could be as grave as what put the kibosh on Real Housewives of Auckland.

(In that case, a cast mate uttered something racist that launched a scandal inviting legal involvement.)

It is my hope that the Below Deck debacle is NOT actually that grave and that these rumors will be disproven.

At this rate, I would not be surprised if we have a no-show at the upcoming reunion due to heightened residual bitterness. You might come away entirely sympathetic towards a slighted character, feeling their reactions are justified

…or you might not.

The yacht may have docked months ago, but on land there is continued storminess, and Twitter has only added fuel to the fire.

Could this scenario involve one of the “Friends”? Or is it someone outside of that subgroup?

Update: Bravo enthusiasts have helped to find these images. It appears as if an alleged “replacement crew member” (after havoc reportedly ensued) is a young woman named Laura Betancourt. She is spotted in photos with cast members.

For clues about the unknown, be on top of who follows who, and always read Kate Chastain’s tweets.

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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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Bravo TV

#BravoTV: Women Supporting Women? Maybe Not…in This Case

Southern Charm got a little too dark and convoluted behind the scenes several months ago. At that point in time, I decided I would write about other shows and take a hiatus from a subject that provoked far too much ire on social media. (I mean, hey, that’s what politics is for and I don’t intend to stop tweeting about national developments.) With Reality TV and the myriad of fantastic blogs devoted to Bravo TV shows, I felt I could pick and choose what to write about versus what to read about. I would refer friends to my favorite websites when there was something I didn’t want to touch. I intended to adhere to my resolution about Southern Charm, but a recent development now compels me to weigh in:

Months ago, I interviewed TRav accusers Ashley Perkins and Nanny Dawn. After a lengthy police investigation, an arrest was made earlier this week. What some are not aware of is that investigators had unbricked Dawn’s old cell phone as part of their investigation. (Police actually use the word “dumped” rather than unbricked. The latter is modern slang.) The discovery was that it contained incriminating data against Nanny Dawn’s former employer.

Fans of Southern Charm who thought nothing would ever come of the reported “ongoing investigation” were shocked by news of the arrest, but apparently one shouldn’t underestimate an old cell phone’s prowess. After sifting through messages, there was sufficient evidence to make an arrest.

Now, in a strange twist, accuser Ashley Perkins is turning on accuser Nanny Dawn (Dawn requested that her last name be withheld from all media reports).

Perkins claims that after speaking to Dawn for several hours months ago, she doubted the other woman’s credibility and the consistency of Dawn’s details.

Interestingly, in her interview with me, Nanny Dawn credited Ashley Perkins as the inspiration for coming out and disclosing her own experience. Since both had seemingly taken a stand against sexual assault, it is odd that one would now, seemingly, turn against the other.

Fans of the show are questioning Ashley Perkins’ motives from the very beginning, wrestling with her credibility and whether this about-face is the result of a monetary settlement reached with TRav.

This story is still developing….

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Bravo TV, Psychology, Reality TV, RHOC

#RHOC: How would YOUR Husband Fare on a Show Like This One?

As a lawyer and party planner, new “Housewife” Emily Simpson thought her unique dual careers would provide ample fodder for reality TV…Along with the fact that her sister surrogated her kids following her own fertility struggles. There was also the interesting family she had married into of Persian Mormons.

But what Emily did not expect was for her husband Shane to be attacked so viciously by show fans on social media.

That’s the risk you take when embarking on a project like RHOC: One should expect anything, everything…everyone to be brutally dissected in the public arena. In general today, even people who aren’t famous can be torn apart for writing something divisive, or uttering a phrase without significant forethought. Of course, this only intensifies for individuals starring on reality television shows.

I hate to highlight certain gender stereotypes, but unfortunately some do exist. There are men out there who act as if they’re allergic to arguments women have. I’m married to a man who will take a pass when it comes to my recaps of PTA drama (and yes, there are some men on the PTA…lest you think I’m singling women out too severely) or the cliquish chaos that transpires between parents on the playground. I frequently want to share the deets of a hard day with interpersonal dynamics gone awry…and he’ll suggest I complain about it to my (other) BFF. I hate that and I’ll tell him so in no uncertain terms. I’m not always successful in this regard. It’s as if these accounts are too migraine-inducing for him to endure.

“Ugh can we not talk about those Housewives?!” he’ll ask as I start to divulge a fascinating development regarding Bethenny Frankel. At least he’s consistent: “Ugh, can we NOT talk about reality stars?!” he exclaims, when I bring up anything related to Donald J. Trump.

Emily Simpson’s husband Shane seems to be afflicted with that same malady. Knowing my own husband, and how he would NEVER sign release forms for a reality show, it boggles my mind that Shane somehow agreed to take part in this season of Real Housewives of Orange County.

When Emily hosted a poker party in their home, Shane told her friend Gina Kirschenheiter (the other RHOC newbie) at the end of the night, that she was incredibly loud and needed to leave.

This made no sense to viewers since the party was obviously planned beforehand and slated to be filmed. My guess is that Shane never thoroughly thought things through. Had he done so, he would have either sent the children to sleep elsewhere, where they’d be undisturbed by raucous partiers, or requested that Emily find a special venue for the poker event.

So now, of course, Shane, who is diminutive in stature, is being lambasted publicly as the “little dictator” married to Emily Simpson. Some have questioned whether or not he’s “controlling”. This past episode, we saw him sparring somewhat with Kelly Dodd at Tamra Judge’s party. This was after Kelly confronted Vicki Gunvalson’s boyfriend Steve Lodge (while he was busy chatting with Shane) about statements Steve made to Page Six.

Shane has made it known that he has very little tolerance for “loud women” and drama…..I have to admit to being utterly baffled by this on-camera revelation. Had he never watched the show he’s now on?!

I can tell you that my own husband has walked in on scenes featuring Vicki Gunvalson (RHOC) and Ramona Singer (RHONY), and scurried out of our bedroom faster than a mouse chased by a broomstick. For him, the interactions are stressfully jarring. These are the aunts at bar mitzvahs cornering you about finding a spouse…when you’re only 13. This isn’t something he wants to watch in his leisure time.

It is convenient that we have more than one television in our home so he can find solace in some other program. It doesn’t matter that he has the entire series of MASH memorized and can quote each episode verbatim. If Klinger is on, he’s elated. It’s the same deal with Cheers and Seinfeld.

Try as I may, I’m unable to persuade him to join me for some Vanderpump Rules…or EVEN an episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen when one of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tending bar!

This will bug me at times, though I’ve come to know my mate: I wish we could jointly revel in the hilarity of those harried Housewives, the Ramona eyes, the drunken Dorinda slurs about Lu’s alcohol issues, Bethenny telling Carole to act her age and not her shoe size (or whatever the hell she said – I have PTSD from that), the infamous incident of a prosthetic leg thrown across a dinner table….

I wish that together we could analyze bizarre interactions between ladies whose problems pertain to the one percent. In my fantasies of such spousal interactions, we easily share the same anthropological viewpoints and are able to wax philosophical about Bravo shows….

As one does.

Alas, there are trade-offs in life and in marriages, and I should be thankful that he keeps things tidy (more so than I do), is an excellent cook and baker and most importantly, hands-on dad.

Although my husband isn’t Persian or Mormon, and he’s more likely to come up with an excuse for a trip to Costco rather than confronting my loudest girlfriend from Long Island, there’s no way he’d be able to film a scene that requires listening to recaps of frenzied fighting between filming friends and foes.

We see time and again with each of the Housewives franchises, that the husbands are obligated to listen and weigh in. To his credit, Joe Gorga of Real Housewives of New Jersey has mastered the art. He will, at the very least, act as if he’s listening and then offer some type of solution to his wife Melissa (she seldom takes his “advice”, but let’s grant Joe an “E” for effort). Jim Marchese of the same franchise overstepped his bounds in bellicose fashion and lasted a mere season.

I realize this is a highly unpopular opinion, but I have to give props to Shane Simpson for simply showing up…thus far. I know several husbands who would have found the largest plants or palm trees to hide behind at Tamra’s party before cameras surrounded them, catching instinctive eye-rolls and frantic – but flailing – signals for rescue.

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Bravo TV, public figures, Reality TV

#FlippingOut: Jenni Pulos is Staying Mum, Not Taking the “Radziwillian Route”

Last Friday, Jeff Lewis took to his eponymous SiriusXM radio show Jeff Lewis Live to address the People report about a rift between him and his Flipping Out costar and longtime pal Jenni Pulos. It turns out, the former besties haven’t had a simple “falling out”: This was a breakup and it looks like there will be no reconciliation any time soon…if ever.

Why? Because Pulos – according to Lewis – reported him for verbal abuse and harassment to the production company and network (Bravo, of course) behind Flipping Out.

In a follow up article in People, reporter Dave Quinn writes:

Lewis, 48, addressed PEOPLE’s report that he and Pulos had gone their separate ways Friday on an emotional episode of his SiriusXM radio show Jeff Lewis Live. “It’s true,” the house flipper and designer said. “Jenni and I did have a fight which then resulted in a rift. … I haven’t spoken to her in three months.”

Quinn later adds:

According to Lewis, there’s more to their fallout. He said that Pulos allegedly reported him to Bravo and the show’s production company, Authentic Entertainment, for “abuse and victimization.”

Fans of Flipping Out can fully acknowledge that what makes Jeff Lewis fun to watch is how he balances work with his unpredictable temperament,and how, as hilarious and entertaining as he is to observe on TV, he probably “isn’t the easiest person to work with in real life.” Many would label that as an Understatement.

In past seasons, Pulos seemed to be the one to roll with the punches and cheer while riding the roller coaster of Lewis’s erratic moods. Her brand of humor struck many as ideally suited to his obsessive compulsions, idiosyncrasies and meltdowns…So now fans are wondering how things got this bad between them.

From the account Lewis provided on his Radio Andy show, one can surmise that Pulos was unhappy for quite some time, but did not effectively communicate her issues directly to Lewis. In turn, this resulted in Lewis feeling completely blindsided by the ensuing complaints.

Last year, I interviewed Lewis and Pulos within the same week. It was prior to the 2017 season premiere of Flipping Out. I found each of them to be quick-witted, charming, charismatic and surprisingly down to earth in our conversations. Since Lewis has now had the chance to share his side of the story about their breakup, I recently reached out to Pulos to see if she would share hers.

As I write this, I’ve received no response (and candidly, as well as humbly, given the extinction of Huffington Post’s Contributor Platform which afforded me the opportunity to interview her last year, I don’t expect to hear back). Another reason we should not expect to hear from her side right now: LAWYERS. This whole shebang is a developing story, but what makes it most interesting is that we’ll see the demise of the Jeff-Jenni friendship play out this season of Flipping Out — which has just begun airing.

Pulos has been active on social media posting about events like the recent deaths of John McCain and Burt Reynolds, as well as happy occasions, including time spent with children and extended family. There have been no instagram posts pertaining to Flipping Out in recent days, nor is Pulos going the Radziwillian Route of bashing her former cast mate on Twitter.

Interestingly, Pulos issued a benign promotional tweet for Flipping Out three days before Lewis revealed this bombshell: Pulos hasn’t been an employee of Jeff Lewis Designs in ages (Rather, she’s an employee of Bravo).

Lewis shared with listeners that it had bothered him for quite some time that this was the one insincere and not true-to-life aspect of their “reality show.”

Despite nasty missives hurled her way, Pulos has been staying mum, resisting the urge to reply to mean tweets from Lewis stans.

In time and as things calm down, we may hear her side of the story.

For now, silence is the smarter option. It is also likely to be the route advised by a legal team. Regardless, Pulos must sense that she’s taking the high road by resisting any urge to address reports.

We recently witnessed how Carole Radziwill struggled to get a word in edgewise next to her adversary Bethenny Frankel on the Real Housewives of New York reunion. If you check out Radziwill’s Twitter timeline, it seems she is carrying on an argument with Frankel post-show that Frankel has backed away from. After years of working with Jeff Lewis, Jenni Pulos knows that his powerful voice will drown hers out in a similar fashion to Frankel’s over Radziwill’s.

Independent of any legal protocol, Pulos appears more dignified by remaining mum, admirably swallowing her pride and letting Jeff Lewis have his say….for now.

(Photo Source: Us Weekly)

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Bravo TV, Reality TV, public figures, Bachelor Nation

#BachelorNation and #BravoTV Stars: Kim Biermann Said WHAT?!

I had this same reaction when Kathryn Dennis said something similar:

I’m familiar with #BachelorNation, the culture surrounding ABC’s The Bachelor franchise and many of its antiquated notions with regard to casting.

Weeks ago, Kathryn Dennis claimed to have been courted by production to be an upcoming Bachelorette (People Magazine article), and now, Kim Zolciak Biermann is saying she too was once considered for the title roll.

The Bachelorette may have finally welcomed its first black lead with Rachel Lindsay during its thirteenth season to help reject rumors related to racism, but CLASSISM still marks the franchise. I don’t envision that changing anytime soon.

Lindsay was an accomplished attorney with a stellar reputation overall. Single mom Emily Maynard (Season 8’s Bachelorette) was a gorgeous widow who had tragically lost her young husband. However, a trash talking, cussing, chain-smoking single mom (Biermann) wouldn’t have fit the franchise’s “brand”, particularly at the time she claims to have been approached. That brand is about having a wholesome as apple pie image (or one as close to it as possible for a show that concludes with a “Fantasy Suite” catering to the final three contenders and lead).

Dennis’s turbulent, televised and highly publicized history with the scandalous Thomas Ravenel could not feasibly have garnered such an invitation by ABC. Simply put, they are just not that open minded. It boils down to viewership demographics and ratings.

I have to wonder about WHO was actually talking to these women and scamming them into believing these were valid offers.

In the interim, I am all for a Bravo show encouraging men to step up to the plate and vie for Kathryn Dennis’s affections. After all, Bravo gave her a platform and allowed fans to witness her maturations from season to season on Southern Charm.

Because of how Biermann was received on Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA), as well as unresolved havoc following the show’s reunion, I cannot imagine Bravo and its viewers would be on board for something similar with her as the lead.

Tamara Tattles brings us more information here about Zolciak Biermann’s recent remarks.

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