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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Reality TV, RHOC

#RHOC OPINION: Emily Simpson & Gina Kirschenheiter Are Good Cast Additions

Like Kelly Dodd and Shannon Beador before them, Emily Simpson and Gina Kirschenheiter are facing some backlash as the new “Real Housewives” of Bravo TV’s Orange County franchise. Only one of the two is currently a “wife”, but that barely matters to a brand that has basically phased out the 4-letter word’s significance.

Impatient Real Housewives fans haven’t yet acclimated to the personalities of these two ladies who, I feel, are good additions to Real Housewives of Orange County. They don’t hesitate to get into the fray and last night’s episode was testament to that fact when Emily, as the caught-unawares newbie (who probably should’ve known better), found herself defending her husband Shane against Gina, the loud, unfiltered, Long Island-accented East Coast transplant.

Kirschenheiter possesses that same magical ability that catapulted Kelly Dodd from “Be Wary” to “Whoop It Up” on the Real Housewives Richter Scale. Brash, ballsy, having a tough exterior to mask sensitivities…The model of this particular make might just be Dodd 2.0.

Gina will inevitably clash catastrophically with someone in the episodes ahead (probably with Kelly Dodd herself) and compel us to tune in for the subsequent “redemption” season. I’m not in the hater camp at all: She is already serving us a heaping of drama as the inebriated cackler at Emily’s house party who was asked to leave by Shane, Emily’s husband.

Subsequently, Gina stirred things up as she relayed those events to her cast-mates, only to leave them wondering if Emily’s husband is controlling and in any way comparable to the creepy, exed out David Beador.

Emily Simpson, a lawyer and party planner (of all eclectic combinations) told Bravo.com she was blindsided by this spouse scrutiny she’s being subjected to. This is something Reality TV critics would have warned her about early on — had she only consulted us!

It will therefore be interesting to see how Emily navigates the intrusions of her cast mates during filming…and of RHOC fans now watching the events unfold.

We are still in the early episodes of Season 14 and Emily already confronted Shannon Beador about how erroneous any David likeness would be. She proved to have an ally in her corner when Tamra Judge scolded Shannon for picking at a “good marriage” as if it’s a bad scab, knowing from experience how hurtful it is to be on the receiving end of that type of social brutality.

At this point into the RHOC season last year, we were twiddling our thumbs waiting for Lydia and Peggy to mesh – in any meaningful way – with the other ladies. Now, in episode 7 of Season 14, which aired last night, we see a friendship has been solidified between Emily and Gina. The two seem to have formed a Big Brother-style alliance, #NewGirls, as they navigate the Housewives game with its mazes of moods and challenges of ever-changing temperaments.

No one could have predicted that the seemingly toxic, clashing duo of Shannon and Kelly would solidify a bond after discovering common ground. There have been numerous other instances of feuding Housewives who seem to hate one another becoming best friends, once they’re done trudging through the muck and mire….

And all of that annoying stuff Shane would change the channel on to avoid watching.

At this point last year, I was begging Peggy Sulahian’s publicist to clear up misconceptions making the rounds during an immensely aggravating silence. Lydia’s esoteric trippiness – which seemed like an LSD ride to Nowhere Land deserving of a full refund – no doubt led to an increase in Dramamine sales.

Although one woman didn’t want her marriage becoming a talking point and the other was ill-prepared for the demise of hers to be caught in the cameras’ cross hairs, Emily and Gina are giving us more to think about than whether ball can be played in the kitchen (although it’s safe to assume it would be outlawed in Shane’s home).

I’m interested to see the inevitable turmoil the OG gals will suffer at the hands of these polarizing newbies. I’ll tune in to find out what Emily sees in Shane and how she defends him against cast mates that are clearly “not his cup of tea.” I’m also wondering if he regrets signing those release forms.

The fact that I have questions shows I’m far ahead of where I was at this point last season. I see promise in these cast picks and I think Evolution Media has good insight and foresight. Only time will tell for certain, but there’s a reason this franchise is still around and still going strong after more than a decade.

(Photo Source: AllAboutTRH.com)

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Bravo TV, Reality TV, RHOC

#RHOC: Shannon Storms Beador on “Reality of Reality” Podcast (AllAboutTRH.com)

If you thought you couldn’t possibly learn more from Shannon Beador, it doesn’t take tequila or fireball shots to get her to spill the tea. Actually, coffee (rather than “tea”) would be a more apt reference since we all know it’s stronger.

The Real Housewives of Orange County star, already a gem of a reality TV personality in longtime producer and podcast host Aliza Rosen’s eyes, opened up about dating post divorce, terrible texts from the ex, trying to keep her cool but losing it (again!) this season, and how one cast member will receive an armchair psychological diagnosis from another resulting in havoc.

To read more about the interview, visit: AllAboutTRH.

(Photo courtesy of Aliza Rosen who is pictured on the left of RHOC’s Shannon Beador)

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Bravo TV, Reality TV

#BravoTV: A “Firing” or a Resignation? Stars Are Often Saved By Semantics

I recently published a post with Rob Shuter’s intel on the Carole Radziwill departure from Real Housewives of New York.

In a nutshell, Shuter, a well known gossip columnist, shared that Radzi had been fired from the franchise. The implication was that this was as a result of some sort of “it’s her or me” ultimatum stated by cast mate Bethenny Frankel who had a major beef with her former friend.

Do I personally believe Carole was fired? No.

I think Carole was exasperated with Bethenny’s nitpicking, constant criticisms and complaints, and I think Carole decided it was optimal to opt out of (what had inevitably become) “The Bethenny Show”.

But that theory begs the following question regarding Bravo in general: “Real Housewives” do not announce a departure mid-season unless there’s a real problem, so why did Carole and the network let us know now that she wouldn’t be returning next season?

My personal contention is that Carole lost her characteristic cool at the reunion, where she blurted out that she didn’t need to subject herself to the torture any longer. After this impromptu announcement, the network may have encouraged a public statement because there were too many witnesses present at filming for this to be kept under wraps long-term.

The above is only my theory and I could be wrong…while Rob Shuter is correct, or vis versa. I don’t think we’ll get a definitive answer to this, at least not any time soon.

One thing I’ll tell you is that while Bravo has (technically) “fired” talent in the past, it most often doesn’t go down the way people would assume. For instance, it’s not similar to how it was shown on NBC’s The Apprentice (or Celebrity Apprentice): An executive isn’t pointing a finger at a Real Housewife saying “you’re fired.” More often than not, there’s a discussion that results in a “mutual decision” that things aren’t working out.

The executive might say something like “X, I see how you aren’t enjoying yourself this season. I know we’ve been asking you to tone down your weekly blog posts and not go rogue in your interviews. We’ve been demanding a lot of you and I can see how that’s really taking a major toll. I know you’re contracted til the end of next year, but we’ll allow you to get out of your contract and write your letter of resignation now.”

Bear in mind that there are also channels to go through and kinks to work out initially between the production company and Bravo the TV network (i.e. Evolution Media produces Vanderpump Rules, RHOBH and RHOC for Bravo. Shed Media produces RHONY. Sirens Media is the powerhouse behind RHONJ.)

The network would rather end things amicably and lead the discussion in such a manner that the star can declare they’ve independently made their final decision about not returning.

For legal reasons and to end off on a good note, this is a sound strategy by Bravo.

More often than not, this is how a Bravo “firing” actually goes down, with semantics on a star’s side. One particular Bravolebrity was greatly encouraged to hand in a letter of resignation last year and that individual can now say they “quit”, despite the fact that there was an exorbitant amount of tension, anxiety and breath holding until the official severing of ties.

The act of firing is a royal headache that not only involves the most influential higher-ups, but a legal department as well as personal attorneys.

While there may be no way to confirm the precise circumstances surrounding Carole Radziwill’s RHONY departure in particular…in general, most discussions that result in the parting of ways are orchestrated by ringmasters of collaborative reasoning.

These authoritative – yet diplomatic – figures are also discerning deliberators, skilled at relaying rationale so it resonates.

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Reality TV

#RealityTV: Remember, You’re Tweeting About A TV SHOW, Fans!

Robin Thicke is not the only one to identify where there are “blurred lines”…

When blind items hit the Internet, readers scramble to figure out all possible allusions. Paragraphs that are so murky can be hard to solve…unless a reader is entirely familiar with the situations – and in terms of what I frequently cover, the reality show. Lately, there have been a slew of blind items clearly pertaining to popular reality shows.

It is one thing to see oblique references on the Internet, but what about when targeted information about an individual is blasted out on social media platforms? In recent times, we’ve seen it is an effective strategy for shaming those who are in the wrong, and getting that “news” out to the masses. In this post Harvey Weinstein scandal world, the Internet has been an asset to enforcing the message that a certain type of conduct is intolerable. But what about when the Internet is used by the Harvey Weinsteins to smear victims?

Perpetrators of bad behavior are notorious for ensuring that they have a platform to spin stories negatively – in order to feed the press info that shifts focus away from their own atrocities.“The Internet is a void that everyone is screaming into,” my own father reasons, “Who in the world is listening?”

It’s clear he doesn’t believe that many people are really taking inane reports they read as truths. The problem is that people very easily believe what they read in a blog established to malign someone without merit.

We laugh at individuals who fall for National Enquirer headlines while on line at the grocery store, but we also easily witness how a false story takes off with alarming speed. And my father did not grow up with the Internet, nor does he rely on it for his work, unlike another man his age who sits in the oval office and has taken to Twitter in erratic fashion.

Covering reality television, I recently saw how viewers – more accurately, fans – escalate from discussing who their favorite characters are and trading barbs about what’s seen on TV…to hurling outlandish and abusive personalized attacks at one another.

“I said that I found Kenya Moore of Real Housewives of Atlanta to be frightening,” my friend David relates, “and suddenly I see tweets about me, including a poll, weighing in on how racist I am. I reiterate: The poll was about ME. Racist?! Because I happen to find a reality character frightening due to her intense behavior on a reality show?! How in the world did people make the stretch to ‘racist.’? I was trolled for months by these same multiple accounts. When I reported it to Twitter, an email came back saying that Twitter didn’t find the tweets abusive. I felt completely let down by the social media platform.”

A woman who chose to identify herself for this piece as “Carly” explained her similar vexations with Twitter: “I’m being taunted mercilessly by the same series of accounts because I dared to comment on a Real Housewives franchise. What ensued were below the belt tweets that included personal information about me. These sick individuals had apparently visited my other social media pages to check details. As a single mom with a very young child, I was terrified and immediately set all my accounts to ‘private’. Everyone thought I was overreacting when I contacted a lawyer and asked family members to stay at my house with my child and I for a few days. It’s insane that conversations via social media can lead to this much panic. I am still considering closing my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for good.”Family members have also advised me in the past to “get off social media” when I privately shared anecdotes of that nether world (I now mainly avoid doing so). I think that due to the type of work I’ve conducted over the years, predominantly in the area of marketing, I have to be on these platforms generally for outreach.

In a non-professional capacity, I love to promote the good work of my friends. Facebook and Twitter are ideal for sharing a podcast link or one to an article. It does frighten me to see how fans blur the lines between reality and reality TV on Twitter though. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in my life. It’s also quite the phenomenon that Real Housewives franchises specifically are the ones to garner this much negative attention and breed such a level of hostility between fans who simply want to opine on a silly TV show.

Why do you think the Real Housewives inspire such a reaction in the Twitterverse?

Would you steer clear of social media if you were personally attacked?

If not, what measures would you take to protect yourself?

I would love to hear from you readers and get your individual takes. For now, try to remember that television viewing is typically described as “leisure time.” It is an experience you are supposed to enjoy and do while you’re relaxing. Perhaps it is best to limit yourself to one screen and ensure that you screen out the rest!

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