#RHOBH, Psychology, Reality TV

#RHOBH OPINION: Is Denise Richards “Off-Brand”?

If you’re wondering why I capitalized “opinion,” it is because I’ve dealt with many a livid reality tv fan in my day. So if you are one to get more passionate about “Real Housewives” than you do about politics, please note this disclaimer before reading on: Below are simply some thoughts and my mind is subject to change as I watch the upcoming season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Now that that divulgence is out of the way, I’m about to belatedly weigh in on the announcement about actress Denise Richards joining RHOBH.

I will tune in, of course, because I become captivated by drama and even, more simply (or more “accurately” considering last season’s lack of drama), by the glamorous designer duds and luxury looks of the ladies. To skewer an old tagline of RHONY’s Sonja Morgan: I have a taste for luxury, but luxury doesn’t have a taste for me.

I joke with friends that I cannot even begin to consider between-the-brow-Botox due to how wrinkly my wallet is. (It helps to have the excuse of 4 children and four tuitions to fret about. When I didn’t have that excuse – two years ago when they were in public schools, for instance – it was a tad more humbling.) I make no bones about the fact that I’m not rich with a candor that Bethenny Frankel (RHONY) would be forced to admire. In fact, one Twitter user joked that I’m a “wannabe Housewife” (due to the fact that I’ve written about these ladies) and aside from never wanting to expose my embarrassing faults on TV…EVER (!) and deal with the after-effects of that public mortification, I’m content admitting I don’t have the requisite “aspirational” lifestyle to make the cut.

For me, these curious creatures on our TV screens make for a captivating collective anthropological case. While I have my husband rifling through my bag for car keys, stumbling upon CVS receipts and saying “we can’t afford for you to keep buying these face masks!”, the RHOBH are known for their over the top gifts. Take, for example. the five thousand dollar toilet Erika Jayne Girardi gifted her husband Tom.

I love the fact that I had never heard of most of these women before and I’m seeing how insanely affluent and excessive (AKA “extra”) they are. I love the fact that despite how I watched Kim Richards in the movie Watcher in the Woods as a kid, many of you did not. Being Paris Hilton’s aunts, Kim and Kyle Richards made good “Real Housewives” because despite doing the acting thing, they were only somewhat known, but not terribly famous and known by all. They fell somewhere between C and D list.

Considering the cast of RHONY, on the other hand, I like how Sonja Morgan and Ramona Singer were people the vast majority of us had never heard of until they appeared on our screens. It makes me wonder why they weren’t famous prior to the show just for being ridiculously rich and having bonkers, over-the-top personalities.

So now we have Denise, a pick who is the most well known “actress” of all actresses to ever be selected for a Housewives franchise. I should note here that RHOBH is the only one of the Housewives franchises to have somewhat known actresses in the first place.

We had Eileen Davidson, familiar to soap opera aficionados, but not to countless others who don’t watch soaps (moi). Then many of us had to adjust a bit when we were introduced to Lisa Rinna in her Bravo role. Wait, we thought, this is weird because we know her from Melrose Place and from her flop reality show alongside A-list actor- hubby Harry Hamlin. This “adjustment” wasn’t too huge ultimately because Rinna’s acting roles were few and far between, and she quickly established herself as the “hustler” hilariously down to do anything…with a financial incentive. Famously, that includes a Depends commercial that is in her reel.

Rinna’s reception has always been a mixed baggie…akin to that one with pills she carries. Overall though, she “owned it” baby, being candid about the things that would embarrass most, and having no qualms asking a castmate if she’d done coke in her bathroom.

Love her or hate her, Rinna earned the right to hold her diamond in the opening credits of RHOBH.

Now…we have to get our minds around an even more complicated choice for a Real Housewife, a former movie star (or do we call her a current one?). Denise Richards seems too famous to be a “Real Housewife” when we’re so accustomed to meeting new ladies. Consider how Dorit was a whole lot of brand new to get used to. But perhaps therein lies the problem: Dorit is the puzzle piece in a jigsaw challenge that viewers have been unable to jostle in. It is hard to take her business, her lifestyle and her storylines (or lack thereof) seriously for many. I’m of the mindset that Dorit makes great TV because she’s physically gorgeous and an absolute mental trip. I find her to be obnoxious and my annoyance with her fuels my desire to yell at her from the safe side of the TV screen. It works for me, but it’s not working for countless others who have deemed her “phony”, “showy”, “lacking substance” and “boring”.

Denise Richards, on the other hand, has not only been in the public eye for her dramatic struggles and moves, but also had a past reality show. She dealt with the death of her mother and helping her father with his own grief. She is known for having married and divorced Charlie Sheen, had an on-again and off-again dysfunctional deal with him subsequently, battled custody with him, and rode his manic roller coaster of drug addiction debacles.

She famously became romantically entangled with the rocker ex (Richie Sambora) of her former friend Heather Locklear, who has recently made news herself for arrests and her own serious substance issues.

The best thing about reality television is that stars now know it’s the arena for candid confessionals. Denise Richards will have to “bring it”, so that’s the major plus of her being newly anointed a Housewife. Also, because she “brought it” on reality tv in the past, I doubt she will hold back on RHOBH.

So while there’s a ton to tune in for, I have to wonder if there’s a better venue for Denise (a follow-up E! reality show perhaps) to answer all the questions fans have about her past, present and future. The Real Housewives seems off-brand for her, but then again, she’s not doing a lot of movie acting these days. Is a Bravo show the next logical step for Hollywood ladies of a certain cohort when the roles have run out? Perhaps it is, and perhaps what I’ve previously considered “off brand” no longer is.

A franchise that once fascinated us with folks who flaunted their fabulosity while we thought “…and you are…?” is adding the marque of familiarity. It is like a new line of $3M Pagani cars that Dorit and Erika must test drive.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: Will Jill Zarin Replace Carole Radziwill?

Pop culture commentator and gossip columnist Rob Shuter has a lot of RHONY inside scoop.

It was he who tweeted that Carole was completely wiped from Bethenny at the reunion and would therefore be retiring the “Housewife” moniker. That declaration came before the official People magazine announcement courtesy of reporter Dave Quinn.

Today, Rob tweeted out that Jill Zarin will likely be replacing Carole and is currently in the midst of talks with Bravo. Could Rob be right? Or is Shed Media looking for a fresh face for the franchise – someone we’ve never heard of – instead?

I liked Jill during her past seasons and even interviewed her for Huffington Post on the heels of the televised Teri Jon fashion event advocating for anti-bullying awareness. On a personal level, I found her to be congenial and open as an interviewee. However, I’ll admit that I will miss the political savvy of Carole Radziwill and I can’t help feeling a little bothered that we are losing a liberal who I admired (remember how she attended the Women’s March with Dorinda?) for someone who was a noted board member of the Eric Trump organization. We know where Jill’s allegiances were during the last election, and although politics barely factors into the RHONY franchise, I’m craving more of a Heather Thompson type of gal for the upcoming season. I’d love to see someone brand new.

My reasoning is slightly selfish, I admit. I related to Carole’s political leanings and her campaigning efforts. Losing an active and outspoken liberal (Carole is “vocal” in this arena via social media) feels like the opening of a void, albeit one quite tangential to the show’s storylines.

Regardless, Jill Zarin has history with her RHONY cronies, as well as an on and very off again friendship with Bethenny Frankel. So viewers will be interested to see how the two repair any residual rifts, overcome a complicated past and whether the peace between the two of them will last.

What are your thoughts on the potential return of Jill Zarin to Real Housewives of New York? Do you think it’s unlikely or a very real possibility?

(Photo source: Us Weekly)

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#RHONY, Reality TV

#RHONY Ruminations & Reunion Rumblings

In my mind, Dorinda Medley is greatly ticked off, but feels partially validated at the same time. As her avid social media followers can attest, the Countess had been crapping on her, having the gall to mention HER drinking and criticize her drunken behavior. After all, Luann De Lesseps is the one who entered rehab for alcohol addiction after her Palm Beach arrest months ago. How dare she throw stones from her glass house at Dorinda?

…And Dorinda wanted the world to know that Lu was still holed up in that very glass house, that she was no sobriety expert who could say “learn from my mistakes.” As it happened, Dorinda was proved right when Lu reentered rehab after a relapse. Bethenny Frankel reached out to Dave Quinn, Bravo’s People magazine pet, and issued several statements on Lu’s behalf, one being that the Countess would be skipping the reunion as she focused on rehabilitation.

This likely gave Dorinda pause. Well, after hours of putting together my receipts and going over all the pivotal points, I won’t get to lambast Lu. On the other hand, I can highlight her hypocrisy and prove the point I had all along. Of course, I’ll convey that it is my hope she gets better, and that I really sympathize with her struggle. Blah blah blah.

Last night’s episode of Real Housewives of New York hammered home some of the other wars waging between this group of women who hang out annually before a camera crew. The only “real” friendships on this show exist between Tinsley, Carole and Dorinda, and between Dorinda and Ramona. The other dynamics are those of coworkers. Bethenny’s stance communicates that she is there to do her best work, bring emotions for heightened drama and then have little to do with the ladies for the rest of the year.

Viewer response to Bethenny after last night’s episode ran the gamut. The “ride or die” Bethenny fans completely understood how personal stresses and her treatment by cast mate Carole Radziwill have combined to make her positively cuckoo, and they feel she has her right to complain. Others are exhausted by Bethenny’s overreactions, cries and snapping that creates chaos.

Personally, I admire how hardworking Bethenny is. I love her compassion for the people of Puerto Rico and her charity work where she shows nothing is below her. That’s why I was taken aback when she acted like the hotel villa was so beneath her in last night’s episode. On the other hand, who am I to criticize Bethenny when I’m sure the circumstances of her divorce, subsequent restraining order and custody arrangement, as well as the strained relationship with a former bestie are draining her emotionally? It’s definitely not easy to be Bethenny and have it hammered home that your former best friend has replaced you with a more happy-go-lucky, fairytale princess Barbie version.

When former RHONY cast mate Kelly Bensimon had her epic “mental breakdown” seasons ago, she didn’t have the backing of fans expressing compassion that Bethenny has now. She didn’t have the extensive show experience or noted business acumen and success. Her charity work was also far lesser publicized. Her personal problems were less documented and I don’t recall many “passes” being given to her. Some fans have called attention to that comparison and the fact that if Bethenny is always having a new problem with new people, perhaps Bethenny is the problem.

Viewers have expressed that she seems incapable of keeping friends and maintaining relationships. Others have added these words to that sentiment: “on TV.” It appears that Bethenny has close friends of many years who don’t seek the limelight. However, it’s getting tiresome for many to see Bethenny constantly blow up at the smallest thing with her cast mates, and to see her perpetually regard former friends as foes.

Yesterday I wrote about likely scenarios at the upcoming reunion, and now reports are surfacing that we’ll see Bethenny eviscerate Carole there. The queen of the comeback and Wonder Woman of the one-liners will likely come out as the triumphant one at this celebrated annual event. The lack of Luann will be usurped by Bethenny’s powerful presence, and the reviews will be mixed. Bethenny loyalists will cheer and feel a vicarious sense of validation for her, while detractors and the less enthused Bethenny watchers will wish for more self-awareness from Her Royal Smugness.

Until a future season when Bethenny is cast next to her perfect adversary, one who matches wits with her tit for tat, is equally savvy and can effectively captivate Andy Cohen, her monster reign will continue. The rumors circulating about Carole quitting after this season are not impossible to believe while Bethenny is the power player in this group dynamic. Because this is a fact fatiguing fans, Shed Media might do best by strategically shaking up the cast for next season.

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Bravo TV, Reality TV

Catching Up with Lea Black on Life After “Real Housewives of Miami”

(The following article was originally published here.)

When Real Housewives of Miami failed to return for a fourth season, there was never an official “cancellation” announcement from Bravo. Some viewers speculated that the series was on hiatus and could magically return.

However, enough time has passed with enough Housewives (of other cities) to entertain, that most fans are not counting on it. Despite the absence of Miami on Bravo, the name of one of the cast members, Lea Black, has recently become synonymous with “gay icon” and “informed liberal” — though when I share the former with Lea herself, she tells me it’s the first she’s hearing of it.

This surprises me because she was known for introducing a famous Miami drag queen to her former cast mates and she has always seemed much beloved by gay members of her community.

Today Lea is only friendly with a few of the Housewives including Joanna Krupka, a stunning model who is connected to a mortifying and grotesque debacle that made for tabloid fodder and brought about a notorious lawsuit against another “Real Housewife” http://people.com/tv/joanna-krupa-sues-brandi-glanville-for-slander/.

“I advised Joanna to drop the lawsuit to make this (gossip and entire ordeal) go away,” Lea relates, “but you have to know Joanna, particularly when she is angry! This is something she needs to see through to justice and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says.”

With outspoken friends like comedians Julie Goldman, Brandy Howard and Ronnie Karam (who are all based in Los Angeles where Lea now also keeps a residence) as her unofficial cheerleaders, Lea – whose political leanings were already well-known in Miami where she held events to raise money for democratic politicians – has been able to share her convictions with a larger audience.

Although she refers to herself as a “centrist” in our conversation, she champions causes that resonate with liberals. She has always been a supporter of gay rights and shows a keen awareness and clear empathy for the average American who isn’t part of “the 1 percent.”

As Julie Goldman said on her podcast with Brandy Howard Dumb Gay Politics: “Lea is really rich, like really really really rich and she is an avid democrat, so suck it, they exist!”

Lea is witty but not at all condescending, quirky with a lilting Texan cadence and she lacks both self-consciousness and pretense. She is extremely well-read and knowledgeable (she’s also married to successful civil and criminal defense trial attorney Roy Black and familiarizes herself with the law) and is staunch in her political affirmations, while remaining respectful of those on the right. After all, despite purchasing a house in Los Angeles, she spends a large portion of her time in her red state residence in Florida.

“If you are against abortion, then don’t have an abortion!” she says logically when we discuss a population of those who voted for Donald Trump. She enforces the notion that women are responsible for their own bodies and single issue voting is not the way to go nor does it bode well: “One issue voting certainly didn’t make sense for this administration.”

She told Julie and Brandy in her interview on Dumb Gay Politics: “The rich may get richer while the poor get poorer, but everybody will be in the emergency room instead of having healthcare.” Lea reiterates this sentiment on the phone with me: “Quality of life is more important than the extra amount of money you have.”

On Twitter (@LeaBlackMiami), Lea frequently muses about this mess we’re in (AKA The Trump Presidency) and it’s clear that she’s not really spending her days watching Bravo as much as she is paying attention to Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Hayes — although she did love the network’s drama Imposters starring Inbar Lavi.

I tell Lea that she sounds more liberal to me than she does “centrist,” her self-descriptor, and she explains her thinking as follows: “I feel that Hillary always governed from the center and so did Obama. He was always willing to work with and compromise with congress. Logically, I’m a centrist because I think the only way to get things done is through a certain balanced level of compromise. Personally in my heart, I’m more of a liberal democrat. I don’t mind having to pay more taxes so people can have better lives and be empowered. Before Donald Trump’s campaign, I thought he came from a place of having been a democrat – that’s certainly how he was once known.”

“I thought that perhaps things wouldn’t actually be so bad, but then he opened his mouth and horrific things came out. There was this condescension and arrogance and outrageousness like when he said he was going to fix ISIS in 30 days. That was propaganda and more followed. The bullying that he did was such a turn off and I can’t understand people who voted for him. Those who admit now that it was a mistake, that’s OK, but those who still support him…I can’t comprehend it when they clearly see he is not going to do what they thought he was going to do – their reasoning for voting for him – what he said he was going to do!”

Lea has so much more to share about politics and it pays to listen to her opine on Dumb Gay Politics, but I realize that there’s so much more I want to know about Lea today.

So I wrap up our political discussion with Andy Cohen-style questions from a fan: “Candyce from Scottsdale, Arizona asks: If you ran into Ramona Singer from Real Housewives of New York who appears to be a Trump supporter, what would you say to her? Also, were you surprised to see the Watch What Happens Live polls before Election Day that had Trump win the election?”

Lea responds that the polls were not shocking because she is aware that Bravo has a conservative viewership, that there are people who went with the negative talking points about Hillary and with the narrative that Trump was the better candidate to “make America great again.”

Lea says she cannot even get her head around the latter sentiment. She thinks that Obama did a great job in light of budgetary overhead from the prior administration, and that he made healthcare something that was finally affordable and available to so many who would have been denied coverage.

“As for Ramona,” she responds, “I do know her (personally) and like her. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with her. If I ran into her now, I don’t see myself having this discussion because I don’t think she’s interested in having one. I just don’t see her as one of those people who follows the issues closely.”

I have to agree with Lea because Ramona does seem to be more focused on her social life and spending time with her adult daughter Avery. The day after Trump’s win, she was reportedly out shopping wearing a fur with a glass of wine in hand.

Lea’s non-political philanthropic endeavors include, but are not limited to, an annual Miami gala that raises millions for troubled teens http://www.theblacksannualgala.com/.

Currently, each Wednesday at 12 EST she opines on different sorts of funny things and modern issues in a Facebook Live segment titled Lunch with Lea.

“Lunch With Lea was something I started because I got so many Bravo viewers asking me about the show (RHOM) or what I’m up to and it just grew automatically,” she explains, “I love staying in touch with all the people that watched RHOM and enjoy the freedom of just being completely open and honest. Listeners seem to love the gossip and my unfiltered opinions. I plan to do it as long as people are tuning in. It’s laughs, giggles, fun and controversial.

She cackles in her signature way while she says “As you can tell, I haven’t slowed down since the Miami show wasn’t renewed!” That is a literal understatement if I have ever heard one because just looking at her website (www.leablack.com) makes me wonder how many hours are in her day.

The site offers her handbags, jewelry, a skincare line and details about her writing. She is committed to publishing more novels since the success of her 2015 book Red Carpets & White Lies which just happens to be about a salacious tome about a Miami socialite…Bravo, if you are reading, this sounds like the makings of a scripted series.

As the girl who came from Texas in the 1980s and rose to become well-respected in Miami society for her moxie as well as her charity and political activism, Lea is admirably accessible to fans. She engages with them through social media and via her website. Lea sees herself first and foremost as mom to teenage son RJ with her husband Roy, and as someone who supports her friends and their endeavors, wanting them to get the recognition and visibility she feels they deserve.

She recently was spotted seated in the audience of Julie and Brandy’s live show. She attended it with Ronnie Karam, co-host of the popular podcast “Watch What Crappens.” It pays to note that Julie, Brandy and Ronnie all began as adoring fans of Lea’s when she starred on Real Housewives of Miami and she responded to them in a way that fans only dream about.

We often hear the phrase “don’t meet your idols, you’ll be disappointed,” but Lea proves time and again to be the exception to this rule, restoring faith about the humility and humanity of highly successful people.

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Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHOP: Monique Samuels Launches ‘Not For Lazy Moms’ Parenting Site

Monique Samuels stars on Real Housewives of Potomac which is returning to Bravo this month. Despite her lavish lifestyle (and multiple luxurious homes), she says that her Jersey-based extended family has kept her rooted and down to earth. Monique’s dad made sure she wasn’t out driving until she learned to change a tire and check under the hood of a car and life was not always as glamorous for Monique as it is today. She values a good work ethic, managing her husband’s real estate investment company. First and foremost, she is a mom to two young kids and that is her primary focus. Being married to Chris Samuels, a six-time Pro Bowl left tackle who played for the Washington Redskins, hasn’t caused her to lose sight of the importance of hands-on parenting. Currently nanny-less while her kids are in school programs, she has always felt that it’s important to not have anyone else raising her children. When things were busier and the kids were not yet in pre-school, she had help, but describes the arrangement as follows: “We collaborated. When she (the nanny) was doing laundry, I would do things with the kids. You work together so the kids definitely get quality time with their mom!”

Real Mr. Housewife
Chris and Monique Samuels

When Monique’s son was fussy due to allergies, it made her search for some natural remedies in addition to running to her pediatrician. “I’m not a naturopath,” she explains, “But I do like to find what will keep me from reaching for Motrin, if that’s possible. I like to find the essential oils that can give some relief.I’m very big on essential oils.” Monique just launched the parenting lifestyle website Not For Lazy Moms at the insistence of friends who appreciated her insight and advice.

Bravo TV

“My friends would ask me about some natural remedies and I would be researching and making these suggestions and they said ‘You really need to start a website where you share this with others.” I urge people first to go to the pediatrician! But it doesn’t hurt to do your research and complement that with natural remedies so you can potentially lessen the number of sick visits.” Not For Lazy Moms began as a Facebook group. Monique would also record videos and the NFLM site went live on October 30th.

Although brand new, some early 5 star reviews are in because Monique initially brought this concept to the Not For Lazy Moms Facebook group she created:

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Not For Lazy Moms is not only about health and wellness though. It also encompasses other areas of parenting and encourages moms – “not Perfect Patties” as Monique says – to be candid about struggles and ways to overcome them.

Regarding the title of the site, “What mom is lazy?! I don’t think ANY mom is lazy,” stresses Monique, “I want to be clear that the name is pure snark. Wracking our brains to figure out what’s good for our kids, what’s beneficial for our marriages and how to spice things up as couples…Those are all things we deal with. That was my impetus for starting Not For Lazy Moms. I’ve learned how to get my kids to get to bed by 8 pm so my husband and I can enjoy some time to ourselves after. It’s not always about going out, some times it’s just enjoying some wine or a cigar – on occasion and having ‘date night’ at home.”

thepicta.com

“I know this is not easy for parents in general. You should come in and smell our home! We use essential oils and We have a diffuser going…I rub some essential oils on my kids feet before going into bed. My husband and I do the same. We all have to work hard to figure out the routines and learn what’s effective so we can be in bed peacefully by a certain time and having things running smoothly in our lives. I really want this website to be a place to hear from other mothers, for moms to exchange ideas and discuss what works, for moms to ask questions and get answers. My friend Valerie is actually a matchmaker who contributes to the site and will give parents great ideas on keeping the spark, something parents of really young kids and babies can forget to prioritize or struggle with.”

Not For Lazy Moms Facebook Group

 

Monique has been very busy lately recording televised morning segments that provide tips to moms. She is also working on developing a podcast (that will also likely be titled Not For Lazy Moms). When I ask her if other cast members from Real Housewives Of Potomac will be involved with the website, she says that anything is possible further down the line. However, this is not about Bravo. It’s about helping moms connect with other relatable, everyday moms.

 

“Whether you want a recipe for homemade play dough that you can make with your kids, or date night ideas for you and your significant other, I want this to be a place where moms go for excellent ideas! We are also interested in having other moms be contributors. There is a tab on the site for that. I love interacting with people and sharing some of my thoughts and the things I’ve learned from real life, hands-on experience.”

You can check out Monique’s website at: www.NotForLazyMoms.com or follow her on Twitter @https://twitter.com/iammrssamuels.

(This article previously ran in my Huffington Post Contributor archive)

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Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHOBH Recap: Thank You, Thuck You (Episode 811)

Bethenny and Kyle.png

Better late than never? Well, this time. I decided that I wanted to write a recap of the last episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in an effort to figure out exactly what is happening. Brian Moylan of Vulture.com affectionately calls the show “Rich Women Doing Things” because in many ways it seems to be a show about nothing except that. But, let’s explore by breaking the latest episode down….

One  of the few great things to come out of Camille Grammer’s relationship with Kelsey (aside from alimony and becoming one of our favorite things about RHOBH after being ignored by her ex in her inaugural season) is daughter Mason. The episode begins with Mason walking the runway in a NYC fashion show and I’m baffled by the fact that Camille is not a “Housewife” this season rather than a “friend of.” We’re getting a lot of Camille and in her incredibly monotone and reserved manner, she is offending no one. In other scenes, we see that she is clearly wary of Dorit and Dorit’s big mouth. In this episode however, she is focused on her modelesque offspring who does a fantastic job making her way down the catwalk in a 20 pound dress. That is talent.

Mason looks a lot like Kelsey, but not in an unfortunate way. She’s much prettier and has an Elle/Dakota Fanning thing going on.

Right before the fashion show, the ladies pile into a van and no one is speaking. The tension is so thick because of the ridiculous arguments the ladies engaged in during last week’s episode. Lisa Rinna is visibly THRILLED that this drama has nothing to do with her for once and it has strictly been between Kyle, Dorit and Lisa Vanderpump. She was tipsy from alcohol the night before and is still unclear what all the arguing was about (as are we!). She’s desperate to get the low down, but struggles to keep herself in check.

…That is, until she joins Kyle while the latter is getting faux bobbed by Julius Michael and face primed by Priscilla Distasio. The hairdresser and the makeup artist are a duo that are frequently requested by Bravolebrities before Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. This is a little like Breaking the 4th Beauty Parlor Wall. They have both worked on Rinna, LVP and Kyle Richards in the past.  They can also be credited with many of the Vanderpump Rules and Real Housewives of New Jersey looks. And yes, you have in fact seen Priscilla on RHONJ as Teresa’s makeup artist teasing Milania about her hyperactivity level. It’s nice to see this team getting some well-deserved PR by appearing in this episode (as well as the last one) of RHOBH. Rinna leans over to eat up all the gossip Kyle has to share. She’s just missing a box of popcorn in hand.

Next we see Dorit trying to smooth things over with LVP while she sports a red leather mini to showcase significant thigh gap and a blood sucker shirt to signify she’s a victim of some sort. It’s clear to me that these ladies don’t eat and they exercise at least twice per day. It’s unrealistic to be that skinny over the age of 40…..if you actually ingest calories.  Dorit tries to get back in LVP’s good graces, but then the older woman drops a bombshell: Her friendship with Dorit is important because she prides her relationship with PK over it all. Really? PK?! Well, yes. Apparently they go way back and have a circle of British chums in common.

Speaking of British, the most interesting thing about this episode was that when Bethenny Frankel is at an event held at Kyle’s NYC store, Kyle by Alene Too, she acts as if she thinks Dorit is British rather than from Connecticut. Should we believe that Bethenny has such limited knowledge and doesn’t actually watch RHOBH? Fast forward to a WWHL episode and Bethenny concedes she doesn’t watch the show, but had met Dorit with her husband PK and 80s icon Boy George and assumed the entire party was English. But Back at Kyle by Alene Too, Lisa Vanderpump thinks Bethenny is full of shit. The latter butts into the ridiculous arguments the ladies are having and points out LVP’s inability to apologize. LVP is so focused on the fact that she can stand up for herself against RHONY Queen Bee Bethenny that she is not issuing any apologies. She leaves the boutique with her pride intact and a faux fur red coat that Dorit feels would suit her better since it matches her bright red lipstick.

While Bethenny’s strategy for talking sense into LVP has been largely ineffective, the reasonable (too much so for a castmate of this show) Accountability Coach Teddi visits Lisa at her home once the ladies are back in Beverly Hills. Somehow, Teddi is able to get through to LVP about the fact that Dorit spews a lot of nonsense and gets off the hook while Kyle becomes the casualty in the process. LVP agrees to sit down with Kyle and finally listen to her and provide her with some acknowledgement.

Kyle and Lisa then meet for dinner. When faced with the question of whether Lisa favors Dorit and therefore gives her a pass, Lisa explains that she’s harder on Kyle because they’ve known each other longer and have more history together. It really seems as if LVP is scrambling to figure out the social dynamics and how to express her loyalties. She also reiterates that she has too much invested and “at stake” with her longterm relationship with PK. I’ve decided that this season is most definitely titled “The Real Filler Scenes of Beverly Hills” because it seems like they’re arguing about a whole lot of nothing. At least, nothing that LVP wants to be arguing about. She is as baffled as we are. Nevertheless, she gives Kyle the most contrite apology she can possibly muster.

Next Episode: Rinna and Camille prance around in lingerie with nary a tad of cellulite, but don’t expect them to share diet tips. Dorit straddles LVP in an effort to have a conversation. Camille throws Dorit shade…and finally, LVP does the same causing Dorit to storm out of a dinner party.

 

 

 

 

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Podcasts

Grant’s Rants: Reality TV Perspectives Include his Hilarious Granny’s

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When Margaret Josephs of The Real Housewives of New Jersey (RHONJ) mentioned she was listening to Grant’s Rants, my curiosity was piqued. I’m always down for a Bravo show recap and I thought “Grant’s Rants” (full title: Grant’s Rants Hollywood Talk) sounded like an interesting name for a podcast. I started out listening for the host Grant Rutter’s thoughts on the reality TV shows I was watching and quickly found his Rhode Island accent intriguing, along with his shrewd commentary on things that don’t necessarily strike the eye of the viewer.

Then I came upon an episode with Granny June. Grant’s Granny reminds me of my own Nana, who, sadly, passed away before The Real Housewives franchise began, but who would have had some incredibly humorous takes. She is unabashed about sharing her blunt observations on grown women wearing pigtails or making a ridiculous ritual of multiple air kisses. Although I had a particular affinity for the episodes featuring this spitfire grandmother, comedians and pop culture enthusiasts have also lent their expertise. In addition, Margaret Josephs (the “Housewife” to recommend the podcast to me) and Danielle Staub of RHONJ were recent guests who provided tantalizing inside scoop and answered questions many had wondered about.

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Grant and Granny June

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Here’s what Grant had to say about his podcast:

How It All Began

Grant’s Rants started in August of 2015. I was encouraged by the following I had generated when I was at AfterBuzzTV. In the beginning, I was surprised by people following me on Twitter, and positive comments I got online. I was used to people being destroyed in the comments, but many respected my opinionated views. I figured, there must be something to this podcasting thing. In my opinion, the YouTube space was over-saturated and Periscope was the big thing at the time. The work I saw coming off of Periscope was on the low end. I produced YouTube videos back in the early days and studied TV in school. Podcasts were the perfect platform to roll out a show and test for audience. I’m a long time podcast listener: I remember downloading podcasts off of my desktop computer and adding them to the my black iPod video! Podcasts like Daytime Confidential showed me that you can be a fan and have a perspective, and with a little insight you can legitimize yourself, but you have to be a fan first and always keep it real.

TV Talk Shows are an incredibly over produced medium, hosts read prepared note cards and are delivered every word or joke via prompter. When podcasting, you have to keep it real and be honest, and that’s why I think so many folks who want information or a genuine laugh find podcasts.

What Grant’s Rants is About

Grants Rants is a pop culture commentary experience, featuring a different guest co-host each week to chart the waters of that week’s latest news. It’s slanted towards reality TV but away from the Kardashians. I have one rule for the show, no Kardashian hot topics. You can get that information everywhere, we are here to cover what else is happening. Every co-host is connected to media or entertainment. This provides for an interesting commentary in the second half of the episode where we spotlight their career and the road to get there. I think people’s stories can be interesting. The thing about working in Hollywood is you can be working on a film set one year and the next you’re moving to Seattle to work in banking – the business takes many twists and turns and it’s interesting to see what keeps people hanging on and how dreams morph into career offshoots.

Guests and a Variety of Perspectives

My favorite guests are those who are on the same wavelength as me. Those people that just “get it”. Observant people are the best. I love to people watch. Grants Rants is all about commentary. It’s an escape from the headlines. I like to think if you look at a cover of US Weekly, Kim Kardashian will be on the cover announcing another pregnancy or something (who cares?), and we’ll talk about all the other stories surrounding that image – a Real Housewife divorce, Paris Hilton’s engagement, Britney’s tour, Scientology, etc. Guests who are game to talk about whatever and come to the table with an opinion are my kind of people. In the most recent episode, (#84) Comedian, Heather McMahan was my co-host. In addition to her being hilarious, she’s an old friend who just “gets it”. We have a certain chemistry that just bounces off of one another that is vital to a good show.

Granny June, my grandmother and my most guested guest is a favorite of listeners. She’s very plugged in to pop culture, reality TV and gossip. She also brings opinions to the table – she can’t stand Mama June and Honey Boo Boo, has no time for Roseanne Barr and can’t quit watching Dr. Phil. What’s great about having Granny on the podcast is that we are clearly very different demographics [I’m 28, she’s 88] but we both see what’s happening in entertainment and have our opinions. It also helps that she’s not afraid to give advice and yell certain Housewives on the show. One of my favorite bits of advice was Granny June telling Kyle Richards to sit down and stop having so many parties!

That’s the type of life advice you’ll get coming out of Grants Rants. The show has become an escape for many listeners, and something I plan to explore more in 2018 and the road the 100th episode this summer!

You can start listening to Grant’s Rants now by visiting: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/grants-rants-hollywood-talk/id1033690074?mt=2.

 

 

 

 

 

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