Reality TV

#RealityTV: Blind Item #GuessWho

This reality star is loved by some and absolutely loathed by others among the viewing audience. Then there are those who just love to hate this person and desperately want to see them on their screens seasonally.

However…don’t be so quick to sympathize with this individual and their sob story of being scorned and snubbed. At an event months ago, cast mates witnessed familial dynamics that didn’t sit right with them. Warnings were issued beforehand, only to be rejected. There’s much more to this star’s story than meets the eye – which is probably why they are getting a head start on speaking to media before network PR gives cast mates the official go-ahead.

Guess Who.

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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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Bachelor in Paradise, Bachelor Nation, The Bachelor, Women

Ashley Spivey on Making #TheBachelor Franchise Better

Ashley Spivey, Twitter

If you’re an avid fan of ABC’s The Bachelor, you might know the name Ashley Spivey. You may have been familiar with her as a contender on the 2011 season, Brad Womack‘s second go as Bachelor (he had already been in the starring role in 2007, but left without a leading lady). Or, she may have only recently come to your attention due to her unique social media activity and interviews on Reality Steve‘s podcast. This is because Spivey has unintentionally become a sort of whistleblower, calling out injustices and controversial aspects of The Bachelor franchise.

Spivey truly didn’t set out to become this person, but as the moderator of a subreddit forum about the franchise, and as a survivor of sexual assault, she’s passionate about how today’s contestants should be treated, represented and protected.

Early on in the process during her season, Spivey detected her brand of ardent feminism wasn’t a match for Womack. “I saw him as wanting to be more in the ‘traditional’ role as a man,” she relates. Spivey had applied for the show after catching her ex boyfriend – who had left a career in finance to pursue one in acting – in bed with another woman. She thought it would be poetic justice to star on television before he ever got the chance. Her father had just passed away and her mood was glum, but she was ready to take a chance on something new and out of character. She completed the lengthy application despite being someone who “doesn’t love being on camera.”

Of course, producers loved the New York based nanny’s feisty backstory. “I think they called me 30 minutes after reviewing my application,” she half jokes.

Her employers at the time weren’t so keen about their child’s caretaker starring on a reality dating show, so once dismissed of these responsibilities (“I thought I was done with nannying and at that point, didn’t envision going back to it like I eventually did.”), Spivey was free to meet the man whose affections two dozen other women would be vying for.

Had producers not followed up regularly with her, she probably would have dropped the ball, she concedes.

Like her friend Sharleen Joynt (Juan Pablo’s season), Spivey homed in on the antiquated aspects of The Bachelor process early on. She recognized and internally recoiled from the reactionary. She was a “one and done” in her mind as far as being on reality TV, but after her season, joined the millions of viewers to opine on social media. There she became a shrewd and critical observer. Now happily married, Spivey remains committed to bettering the process for the singles of Bachelor Nation.

In the years leading up to #MeToo, #TimesUp and women calling out men for bad behavior, more eyeballs landed on Spivey’s Twitter timeline. Social media platforms hadn’t been as popular when she was a contestant back in 2011, but now people were weighing in with alacrity. Like other critics of the ABC franchise, she was not a fan of the public’s shaming of the first Bachelorette to have sex before fantasy suite dates and made that viewpoint known. This resonated with others who replied and responded. Bloggers and reporters focused on the flaws within the franchise as a direct result. Spivey’s tweets took the position of: People seem to take it easy on the men, so why are women being slammed?

She posted and blogged about these types of injustices and her following continued to amass, even more so after pointing public attention to the bad behaviors of The Bachelorette contenders hoping Becca Kufrin would choose them.

As a former contestant, “Bachelor Nation” was paying attention to Spivey, though she was met with polarizing reaction due to the political diversity of that audience. Some of the more conservative viewers were upset when after following a tip, she looked into and verified the strange Instagram activity of Bachelorette contender Garrett Yrigoyen (comprised of “likes” on offensive and racist posts and memes).

When blogger Reality Steve got word of Lincoln Adim‘s battery assault conviction, Spivey arranged for her sister in law to pick up the court documents in person. “Because I manage a Bachelor Subreddit forum, I need to make sure the conversations there don’t get out of hand and that false information isn’t being spread,” she explains, “I also feel that these contestants deserve the very best and it upsets me that there wasn’t a better vetting process in place to protect Becca.”

Spivey’s successful efforts obtaining proof from the courtroom had a greater impact: Adim did not attend The Men Tell All episode.

“They could have done much better than that,” Spivey insists. “Becca should not have been placed in a position where she’d have to choose between controversial men. Producers could also have chosen to address the Lincoln scandal and discuss what is not acceptable during The Men Tell All…They also could have edited out a handful of Lincoln’s earlier scenes.”

Producer Elan Gale did reach out to Spivey to let her know the franchise had a pretty solid selection process. With regard to Yrigoyen, he expressed, there is no way to determine what a person is “liking” unless one follows that person and goes through every single post. Spivey understands how difficult and tedious it is, but something she tells me about herself should be modeled by production: “I always double and triple check things – it’s something I hear from multiple people that you’ll eventually end up reading about – before addressing it.”

Spivey adds that there was another missed opportunity by the franchise during 2017’s nearly-canceled season of Bachelor in Paradise. After allegations of sexual impropriety were investigated, the show reconvened with a post hiatus episode featuring a conversation between Chris Harrison and cast mates. “A professional should have been called in to address the issue of ‘Consent’ and clearly define what it means. In a way, this huge issue was somewhat glossed over following a public controversy. In my opinion, they fumbled the ball by not having a psychologist there. This was an opportunity to educate properly.”

While Spivey expects certain things from the franchise in 2018, it’s amazing that she still watches the show after what she experienced in 2011:

“I spoke about being a victim of sexual assault and rape in a prior relationship that was abusive. I knew there were other women that would be able to relate to my experience and I wanted to be authentic about real life issues. All of that was cut out of the show.”

With a social climate that is changing for victims of sexual assault, Spivey has been able to note progress made by the franchise more recently, but perhaps it is her own scarring past experience that keeps her fighting. By highlighting issues with contestants, it is inevitable that producers are tuned in and making changes –even if some regard her as a troublemaker or fail to credit her.

After exploring claims that a contestant of The Proposal (a spinoff show of the franchise’s) had once drugged and sexually assaulted a woman, Spivey was instrumental in bringing the information to light. Although no one from the network contacted Spivey, ABC promptly pulled the episode and it never aired. “That indicates they’re responding, but there’s still a long way to go.”

There are many viewers who see The Bachelor as a safe entertainment haven, one away from politics. As a result, that contingent would not want to be lurking on Ashley Spivey’s timeline. She tells me she was pleasantly surprised when Bekkah Martinez’s Trump reference wasn’t edited out of Arie’s season of The Bachelor.

“The reality is that there are viewers in Middle America that the franchise doesn’t want to alienate, so you’re not going to hear much political discussion. I believe that Rachel and Nick’s fantasy suite date was on election night, but producers know how polarizing these types of conversations can be. I think contestants are also highly aware of this and as a result, reluctant to discuss politics. Michael Garofola brought up Trump a lot during Bachelor Winter Games – Know that, despite the fact that you didn’t get to see it on the show.”

A more recent controversy Spivey has spotlighted is the one surrounding Leo Dottavio from Becca’s season of The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise.

“I had seen mumblings about Leo sending dick pics and inappropriate messages to women. Bekkah Martinez had Instagram stories about people coming forward to her regarding unwanted advances from Leo. He claimed it was all photo- shopped and fabricated, but there were multiple people coming forward to back Bekkah up. Then Amanda Stanton posted about him and Leo responded by sending threats.”

(Ironically, Spivey and I spoke right before Amanda Stanton’s arrest following a physical altercation with her boyfriend. Stanton’s lawyer issued a statement acknowledging that any violence is wrong and conveying Stanton’s regrets about her actions.)

Spivey would like to see more progress from the franchise, including more inclusiveness and diversity. She is currently disgruntled by the demographics. “Rachel Lindsay, the first black Bachelorette, is also the only Bachelorette to not reach a million followers. That shows you how racist viewers still are.”

Spivey would have also liked to see the first black Bachelor this upcoming season. There were some great candidates, she notes, including Wills Reid and Eric Bigger. However, Spivey sees the selection of Colton Underwood as a response to a call for change and proactively safer casting choices.

“There are lots of crazy stories out there about contestants, but there is nothing bad on Colton,” she emphasizes. “Colton is a good person. I think that raising awareness about what’s problematic really did have an impact. You see that with the choice of Colton as the next Bachelor.”

Spivey is quick to add: “On the other hand, if the whole season is ragging on Colton for being a virgin…that would be a complete step backwards…”

“If they don’t make significant changes, it will be hard for me to continue watching.”

(Photos, from left to right, courtesy of Wet Paint and Brides.com. Spivey has said that during her season of The Bachelor, she was more in love with fellow content Ashley Hebert than Bachelor Brad Womack.)

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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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Bachelor in Paradise, Bachelor Nation, Reality TV

#BachelorInParadise: Jordan Kimball Thought He Found “A Price Above Rubies”

A woman of valor, who can find? Her worth is far beyond that of rubies.

The bolded portion of the above quote probably sounds familiar if you watched this past season of that cheesy, guilty-pleasure reality show Bachelor in Paradise. Ironically, you might also know this passage from Proverbs 31. If you’re a learned Jewish individual, you know it as Eishes Chayil (“Woman of Valor”), the song a man sings to his wife praising her many virtues each Friday night before Shabbat dinner. I made a mental note when Jenna first showed Jordan that tattoo with these words: Is Jenna a woman of valor? My mind was open and I was on this journey (AKA glued to the tube for four ludicrous hours each week) to find out.

When the season premiered, I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of Jordan Kimball, the image-obsessed male model who didn’t seem like he could possibly let a woman get in a word edgewise. We first saw him strut his stuff, discuss his multiple modelesque expressions, and don a golden speedo during Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette.

However, along with many other viewers this season of Bachelor in Paradise, I discovered that Jordan Kimball was multidimensional: He possessed the ability to make fun of his self and even was able to listen. Despite some meltdowns and mini tantrums, he seemed like a doting friend and boyfriend. The cad and “villain” of Becca’s season slowly started to win us over, little by little, as he persistently courted Jenna Cooper.

Some of his methods – warring with others guys vyying for Jenna’s affections (David, Benoit) – were questionable, if not downright and dirty. However, Jordan was certain about this bleached bottle-blond who was a bit of a broken bird, and who reminded me (just a tad) of Marilyn Monroe.

To Jordan, there was something about Jenna, beyond the pretty face with false lashes and bright red lipstick and her enviable bikini bod. She seemed vulnerable, emotional, grappling with trust issues and confidence about good things happening to her. She claimed to be looking for love and by our initial estimations, she seemed worthy of finding her Prince Charming.

Described as “kooky” and somewhat of an oddball, Jordan seemed captivated and under her spell…so much so that within a few short weeks, he was talking babies and teasing her about awful name choices for their future offspring.

Last night, Jordan went on Reality Steve‘s podcast to discuss what the host had uncovered: Texts from Jenna to another paramour indicating that the relationship between Jenna and Jordan was fake, that she was “better than him” and was using Jordan for some sort of a business opportunity.

While admitting he was still shell-shocked, Jordan made it clear to Steve that he was not in denial and can fully acknowledge that Jenna was the one to write those texts. “I’m not basing this off of three texts. There’s more to it,” Jordan told Steve, who admitted Jenna never contacted him to say the texts were fake or fabricated in some way. Jordan has plans to visit Jenna and hear what she has to say, but for now he is stepping away from their relationship and all plans are indefinitely on hold. That includes the previously discussed June 2019 wedding (where Bachelor host Chris Harrison was to officiate!).

Jenna, for her part, took to Instagram in the eleventh hour and after significant pause, to say she’d prove those texts were phony and somebody had set her up.

After listening to the Reality Steve interview , what are your thoughts on the fate of Jenna and Jordan’s relationship?

Jordan thought he had found his woman of valor. Another passage in that same aforementioned ancient proverb states: “She is good to him, never bad, all the days of her life.”

I’m not surprised that this relationship turned sour because of something very pivotal that Jordan said in the interview. What viewers have to understand – he explained to Steve – is that he knew Jenna a very short time.

That is the reality behind the reality TV show. In a few short weeks time, we often have few words to go by to trust a person outside of a contained and controlled setting. Don’t be fooled by the promise scrawled in a back tattoo..and the power of lust.

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