#politics, Bravo TV, Reality TV, Vanderpump Rules

#PumpRules: Yes, We Care About Politics

Exactly two years ago to this date, November 8th 2016, the site Jezebel posted an article titled Why Couldn’t We Interview the Cast of Vanderpump Rules About the Election? The author Ellie Shechet stated her desire to ask cast mates of the show their thoughts on the former reality star who would eventually go on to become president.

“I mean, don’t you want to know what Lala thinks?” she wrote.

She continued: “But when I reached out to Bravo to request interviews with the cast on the 2016 election, I was politely rebuffed. We were later told that Jezebel could only attend a ‘pub crawl’ event with the cast if we refrained from asking political questions.”

Bravo’s communications department may have the same stance today, keeping politics off the table in press interviews, but some cast members of various shows on the network are outspoken anyway.

When I asked Shep Rose his thoughts on Donald Trump several years ago, the PR rep interrupted and then Shep very assertively interrupted her: “No, I want to take this one.” As one can see from Shep’s recent tweets, he’s no fan of the president’s but on the phone, I got the sense he was Libertarian (and of course, there was no Trump love there as he explained an otherwise moderate position).

But back to Vanderpump Rules. In the past, we had gotten to know that Stassi Schroeder was the offspring of a gun-loving Republican dad and she would sometimes put her foot in her mouth, getting flack for criticizing some of the #MeToo stories. She was quickly schooled by her cast mates (in particular, Ariana Madix) and angry listeners of her podcast. She became terribly remorseful and some wondered if it was because advertisers had pulled out of her show, while others noted growth and maturation.

On the show, she showed her support for LGBTQ rights. Off air and in social media land (a place my 12 year old has vowed to never go and has deemed evil), Stassi incurred the wrath of many, including her very “woke” and liberal cast mate Ariana Madix, who was always outspoken about politics.

Ariana’s longtime boyfriend Tom Sandoval said in a very nonchalant way in 2016 that he would probably vote Democratic. This casualness reflected a collective mindset of these kids two years ago, who many viewers feel, have grown up on camera (never mind that they’re in their 30s. I do contend that political growth can spurt as part of one’s quarter life crisis).

Vanderpump cast member Kristen Doute now has a pinned tweet that reads “We voted. Did you? Get out and make your voice heard” and an earlier Twitter exchange she had with Ariana shows the latter teasing that she was an influence of this new outspokenness. Perhaps 2016’s Jezebel piece was making the rounds again before this year’s Election Day.

Another “Vapid Rules” (what I used to affectionately call the show) cast member, Tom Schwartz, who I had the occasion to interview multiple times for Huffington Post, tweeted out “I voted my balls off” on Election Day.

Today, his wife Katie Maloney, another integral member of the VPR clique, tweeted: “It’s fantastic that the Trump administration is standing up for a woman after she was ‘struck’ apparently being ‘grabbed by the pussy’ is AIGHT but Acosta trying to block the crazy chick grabbing at his mic is ASSAULT? I need a walk….This can’t be real life.”

Jax Taylor has made statements in the past that have reflected liberalism, not without his own share of faux pas, and the Grand Dame Lisa Vanderpump is a known LGBTQ advocate who has officiated gay weddings.

There are of course, numerous Bravo fans who are conservative and will hop on Instagram and Twitter to argue and defend President Trump to these Bravolebrities, or ask them to refrain from discussing politics. Katie was recently met with this response: “It’s cute when reality tv girls comment on politics.” To which another fan responded:

“It’s cute when tv personas become president too. Like super, SUPER cute. 🙄”

Touché.

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#politics, Judaism

Mixed Views on UN Ambassador Nikki Haley

As you can see here from this little blog I started -one I’m hoping to devote more time to so it becomes more than “this little blog I started ” – I’m a pop culture junkie. You’ve probably surmised that I watch and comment on reality television…a lot. I’m not the biggest fanatic when it comes to politics. However, every once in a while, I weigh in on the state of our nation and the people in government. I do not really have many opinions when it comes to the current UN ambassador Nikki Haley, but around me I hear the voices of so many weighing in. For I live in a Jewish community where Israel is foremost on people’s thoughts and they have recognized Haley as a major friend, advocate and defender of the land. Following is an article I wrote for FitsNews.com that captures the opinions of many people around me, some who adore the ambassador, others who view her as problematic, and some with mixed feelings.

https://www.fitsnews.com/2018/05/10/nikki-haley-righteous-gentile/

nikki haley

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Podcasts

“What’s Your Podcast Pleasure?”

When I asked friends “What are your favorite podcasts?”, I was not expecting Nell Kalter, a teacher and writer, to send over two pages. People really like their podcasts and they’ll tell you exactly why, but then there are those who have never yet listened to one. In my experience, which is thus far limited to informal polling, those people are mainly high school students, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Many of my friends in their 40s, who are essentially 9-7 professionals, are just beginning to take an interest in podcasts. Yes, believe it or not. They’re just beginning. Others caught Serial when it was the “not-to-be- missed” sensation, but haven’t listened to another podcast since.

“Do you listen on the computer?” is a question I’ve gotten from a few individuals I shall not name.

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I think it’s a little embarrassing in this day and age post-Serial, but I DO get it. I’ve been told brashly by others “I have a life. I have a job” – only the most insulting thing you can say to someone as they too toil away (with a podcast in the background for good measure, of course).

I’ve also been the recipient of the side-eye from folks who have listened to podcasts since they began cropping up and regard me as a dinosaur. The act of creating podcasts, “podcasting”, was first known as “audioblogging” and its genesis predates to late 2004.

There are currently hundreds of thousands of podcasts (and counting!) to listen to if you are an English speaker. My own interests vary from true crime (i.e. Sword and Scale, Criminal, White Wine True Crime, Suspect Convictions, My Favorite Murder) to reality TV-related interviews and recaps combined with light chitchat that distracts me from national news (Watch What Crappens, Reality Life with Kate Casey, Adderall and Compliments, Realizing Stuff with Kara and Ryan, Emotionally Broken Psychos, Feathers In My Hair ,Everything is Iconic with Danny Pellegrino,  Grants Rants, Things We’re Too Lazy to Blog About, Buttered Pop and so many more).

I also delight in listening to a podcast about politics that is actually more about two funny ladies giving their comedic perspectives on the current presidential administration (Dumb Gay Politics with Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard from Bravo’s The People’s Couch).

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Here is what two of my friends had to say about their own podcast preferences. Nell Kalter is a Gen Xer who helpfully broke hers into categories. Rachel F. is a Millennial who spoke about her favorites (and requested anonymity due to the nature of her profession).

I. NELL KALTER – Gen Xer

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The Reality TV podcasts: The very legitimate need for escapism from the latest news about whatever horrifying thing the ‘head lunatic in charge’ just said on any given day has multiplied recently – much like that creature in Human Centipede 3 – and there’s perhaps no greater escapism than listening to intelligent people yank and pull reality television apart. I’ve written recaps of reality shows for a few years now (Vanderpump Rules, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Are You the One?, etc.) and I’ve taught Film and Media for even longer, so the podcasts I gravitate to in this arena are those that explore how manipulated these shows truly are in a manner that I seriously hope every person watching fully understands.

I listen to Reality Life with Kate Casey because she scores timely subjects for interviews and she asks probing questions that often make me appreciate certain participants of reality shows in a way I haven’t before. Shep Rose, a key player on Southern Charm, came off as far wiser and more politically aware than he does on his series when he spoke with Casey, and knowing he has those attributes somehow enhances the show for me. I’m not an avid fan of The Bachelor – I watch the first episode each season before suddenly remembering that seeing a grown woman named Lindzeeee cry in a corner about feeling rejected by a man she met ten minutes ago could potentially stunt my growth – but I have written on Reality Steve’s site for some time and I crazily respect his unparalleled ability to spoil the show. He started a podcast a while ago and I don’t know every person he interviews because I don’t follow The Bachelor closely, but he still manages to pull me in because his interview style is effortless and quite charming. If you haven’t listened to him yet, check out the episode he did with Michelle Money. She exhibits a level of real bravery while discussing the choices she’s made throughout her life that may end up inspiring you.

Kate Casey

The Erudite Pop Culture podcast: How was Your Week with Julie Klausner was the first podcast I ever listened to and she hooked me immediately with her hilarious takes on of subjects as varied as serving on jury duty and the Met Gala. Klausner, the creator, writer, and star of the brilliant and subversive show Difficult People, is sort of my idol; she literally has completed the trajectory of the exact career I’d chant for if I actually believed something like chanting worked. She used to write scathing and hysterical reality TV recaps before she moved on to writing her own television show, and though she hasn’t done as many podcasts as she used to, she came back recently with a brand new episode that is laugh out loud funny. (And I swear I’m not just complimenting her work in the hopes that she’ll send me one of those snack blankets she trotted out on the most recent episode of Difficult People – but should she be reading this, I’d like a Savory Blanket in pale pink.)

julie klausner salon

SALON.COM, Julie Klausner

The True Crime podcast: Like everyone else I know, I consumed Serial like it was arsenic-laced candy. I’ve had an interest in the most bizarre crimes that have ever occurred throughout the annals of history since the day I accepted my own double-dog-dare and finally read my sister’s copy of Helter Skelter, a book I’d peek at constantly but shied away from because I feared the stark black and blood red cover and the warning scrawled on the first page that the book I was about to read would scare the hell out of me. The cautionary note was accurate, but I realized that what I found most fascinating about Charles Manson ended up being not the man himself, but his followers.

As someone who is not religious and not fanatical about anything except Springsteen, the devout belief Manson’s followers had in him intrigued me, as did the line within them – the one that grew shadowy and pale after months spent gobbling acid on the dusty terrain of Death Valley – that delineated those once light sides from their growing dark sides. It’s an internal line we all have, and I guess the perverse side of me is drawn to understanding what causes someone to hop over that line in a spectacularly cruel fashion.

After obsessing over Serial, I moved on to the podcast version of one of my favorite shows, 48 Hours. The podcast may not be hip, but the stories are explored in a taut, compassionate, and totally consuming manner.

The Best Interviewer podcast: A friend turned me on to The Tim Ferriss Show a while ago and I’ve perhaps never heard a finer interviewer who has been able to delve into so many subjects with verve and legitimate enthusiasm. This guy examines the life of a Navy Seal in one episode and ponders how to live without limits in the next. His interview with Jamie Foxx made me wish my own name ended with at least one “x” because Foxx was revealed to be patently ambitious, beautifully wise, and wildly funny all in the same breath. My guess is that Ferriss’ podcast would have the greatest mass appeal of all of my favorite podcasts because he examines everything within the zeitgeist exactly as it’s occurring. Want dating advice? Ferriss has you covered. Ever wonder what spiritual fuel Tony Robbins downs instead of Adderall to achieve enlightenment? Ferriss will be your guide as you wade into that crystal water of wisdom. In short, Ferriss manages to instantly relate and form a rapport with every person with whom he speaks and he knows how to hone in on what will interest his listeners the most in each moment – and he keeps those listeners thinking long after each episode ends.

The My-Obsession podcast: Listen, I don’t love anything more than I love Bruce Springsteen. Seriously, I’d give up Twix bars, iced coffees on August mornings, my favorite six-inch heels that make my feet bleed, and several family members just to have a five minute meeting with the man I believe to be the single finest songwriter in the stratosphere – and I’d give up those people and those things without even a smidgen of guilt. I’ve been to countless shows and there were many months when I was in my twenties when I couldn’t afford my rent because my priorities were: 1)Springsteen tickets 2)Huge pretzel at the concert 3)A roof over my head. I appreciate fellow fans who worship him as the deity I believe him to be, and Tramps Like Us is a podcast for Springsteen aficionados. Lee McCormack’s appreciation for Springsteen’s artistry is evident in every single episode, and if you’re a Springsteen fan, I recommend you check it out. And should you snag the tickets to Bruce’s upcoming appearance on Broadway that I feel deep in my soul are MINE, I also recommend that you hire yourself several burly bodyguards.

Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle. Her Twitter is @nell_kalter

 

II. RACHEL F. – Millennial

Okay, I thought hard about this because I listen to about 20+ podcasts. Here are my top 5:

 

1. Bowery Boys: New York City History

This was the first podcast I ever listened to. My dad recommended it when I moved to New York 4 years ago. Before I started working, I binged its episodes to get acclimated to the city. I grew to love my new city with every episode. The creators Greg Young and Tom Meyers recently published a book of New York City history and of course, I went to one of their signings. Meeting them was a dream come true and I expressed how appreciative I was for their work.

 

2. The Black Tapes Podcast

This podcast is a serialized horror story about a young reporter teaming up with a paranormal expert to investigate unsolved paranormal activity. The story-line is very compelling, but unfortunately, it is ending after 3 seasons this year. The mystery gives me the creeps, but I cannot stop listening.

 

3. You Must Remember This

This is another history podcast, but it is about old Hollywood. The creator is Karina Longworth, a Hollywood enthusiast, and every few months she posts mini-series about Hollywood’s history. This season she focuses on the parallels between Jane Fonda and Jean Seberg, two contemporary actresses who were investigated by the FBI for their ideologies. Other topics she covered previously were Charles Manson, the Hollywood blacklist, and Joan Crawford. Karina has a wonderful voice to listen to, as well.

 

4. Ronna and Beverly

Well you and I met at their show, so enough said. Jessica Chaffin’s and Jamie Denbo’s Ronna Glickman and Bevery Ginsberg (respectively) make my week! It has been a rough summer without their humor because they are currently on hiatus. But when they release new episodes, I have a hard time focusing on work because I am constantly cracking up at my desk. Impeccable timing, great guests, it is the best comedy podcast out there.

ronna and bev

 

5. My Favorite Murder

When thinking of this list, I thought about what podcasts I cannot wait to download on my phone. My Favorite Murder is one of them. Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark deep dive into high-profile and unknown crimes. I always look forward to their mini-episodes with people’s hometown murders as well as their main episodes. Karen and Georgia have created a community where not only do we like talking about murder, but we also look out for each other in signs of danger. “Stay sexy and don’t get murdered” is a motto more people live by because of the podcast.

 

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