#RHONY, Bravo TV, Psychology, public figures, Reality TV

#RHONY Psychology: Is the Bar Set Low for Your “Bethenny”? (Opinion)

Disclaimer: The following post may be deemed “psychobabble” as it reflects thoughts of a former psychology major, rather than psychologist or licensed mental health professional.

It is a residual learned helplessness from elementary school interactions with mean girls. When we come across someone brash, opinionated and intimidating, it’s somewhat instinctive how we set the bar lower, how we’ll lap up the love we do receive – between thorny barbs that prick us repetitively – like a little lost puppy dog.

As with an A-Plus student, someone like Bethenny Frankel has a podium to stand on so we are at a loss for words during debates. The little girls inside of us, upon recognizing approval from the harshest of critics, prize the praise of a “Bethenny” over the kind words of someone softer and more sensitive.

Because she is one who suffers fools lightly (so to speak), her moments of tenderness and vulnerability stand out more prominently than they would in an easygoing individual, and a fortress of respect surrounds her.

While I did not agree with certain actions of Carole Radziwill this season of Real Housewives of New York (RHONY), – her need to repeat atrocious things said to people behind their backs could perhaps be justified by the fact that cameras were capturing everything – I had compassion for her after witnessing her evisceration by cast mate and former buddy Bethenny Frankel.

No one on this show is without faults and the argument about “setting the bar lower” could be applied to other cast mates too. However, that would entail several other separate, lengthy articles. I’m going to stick to Bethenny in this particular one, while bearing in mind the argument about allowances made for Ramona Singer. We can save that Megillah (and ones devoted to Sonja, Luann, Dorinda…) for another time.

Think back to your days vying for the popular classmate’s attention and wishing you were in “the clique.” Remember laughing at the girl in the back brace who the cool kids were taunting? Would you put up with and participate in that sort of behavior now? I’m sure you are saying “no”, but if you think hard, you have probably made other mental adjustments for rude people.

You may know someone blunt who won’t back down and listen to you finish your points in a discussion – even when what they’re spewing is entirely wrong. It may be because they’re so often right and regarded as the “voice of reason” in other instances.

Despite some aggravation, you say to yourself, consciously or subconsciously, “She’s tough, but has chosen ME as her friend…ME!!!” So you listen and bite your tongue to keep from objecting.

This does reflect a collective self esteem and the desire we have to be appreciated by people we see as accomplished, authoritative and determined. As confident as one could argue that Manhattan socialite and bestselling author Carole Radziwill is, she is not above succumbing to another’s flattery and adoration of her.

Avid RHONY viewer and reality TV blogger Essence Capp observes: “When Carole met Bethenny at Luann’s during Season 7, she was almost ‘star struck.’ She really did seem in awe of her during the early period of their friendship.”

Bethenny called Carole the “cool girl” during that time and Carole (no doubt) loved it. I cannot blame her at all: I’ve been a a part of this type of dynamic in my own social life. Who doesn’t appreciate and value the praise of a highly discerning individual? Bethenny had already set herself apart as being that fussy, fault finding judge whose BS detector was extra fine-tuned.

My husband will say to me “Forget elementary school! That was 100 years ago!” However, it is the experience of playground and classroom interactions, including past swift assessments made by teachers and peers alike, that shaped who we are today. Whether we are willing to reflect and admit to it or not, the social and academic scrutiny in our formative years can affect us throughout young adulthood and beyond.

Knowing this allows us to ask ourselves “Why exactly do I need this person in my life? Why does their opinion of me matter so much?”

Unfortunately, as the Carole-Bethenny breakup attests, it can take a falling out for us to step back and decide what is worth fighting for…and what isn’t.

As I write this, Carole is still tweeting about the fights with her former friend. In doing so, she comes across to many as the Bitter Betty of the duo. Perhaps it’s because she feels that now that she won’t be returning to RHONY, she has nothing to lose and can totally go rogue.

It is best, when there’s no reality show in the picture, to be the better person. In the fashion of those beloved by Bravo who can look scornfully upon the Housewives and laugh at them, Carole could bow out gracefully and opt to “plead the fifth” instead.

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: Luann De Lesseps Talks “Taking Sobriety Seriously”, Disses Dorinda

They say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but Luann De Lesseps must feel she’s just built a fortress.

In an interview with Michael Cook for Out In Jersey, the Real Housewives of New York star says cabaret has been a lifeline. She discusses her show Countess and Friends and says she’s committed to the staying power of her sobriety this time around.

As if her partying ways were documented 25 years ago, she even alludes to cast mate Dorinda Medley as being in a category of people that “drink too much and get sloppy.” So, we can understand why the two of them aren’t so close – as opposed to Bethenny Frankel who is “not a big drinker.” My, how the tides of Bravolebrity alliances have turned!

“Since I have quit drinking-I am thirty five days sober today by the way-I feel so much better and I just feel really good,” De Lesseps told Cook, “I feel in control, empowered, happy and ready. I am really not tempted to drink right now. That is my state of mind.”

The Countess also refers to her relationship with family members as being in a much better place (from when reports surfaced earlier about her children suing her). She says her kids are most important to her above all else, which solidifies her adamancy about not abusing alcohol again.

“Listen, I will be honest, I had my own hiccup with my children which we all know about because it was very public. We have reconciled and everything is cool.”

Fans will have to stay tuned and watch next season of RHONY to see how De Lesseps maintains (what she describes as) a “lifestyle change.”

“I am not perfect, although I try to be. But I am not. What happened to me happened. I dealt with it and now this time…I really feel that it is sticking for me this time around.”

(Photo Source: Bustle.com)

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#RHONY, Bravo TV, public figures, Reality TV

#RHONY: Crap with the Countess…& Chicago?

A source tells me that Luann De Lesseps’ personal publicist recently fired her. This is ALLEGED, please note, but the source goes on to add that it was because Lu wasn’t being totally truthful about her troubles — and was, generally, a handful to deal with.

This report explains why Bethenny Frankel stepped into the role of spokeswoman for Lu, and why she was the one to give Dave Quinn at People talking points for an article about Luann not attending the reunion (to undergo round two of rehab for alcohol addiction).

The source adds that the folks at Bravo “don’t want to handle her shit anymore.” An interesting Twitter handle to follow that keeps up with the RHONY-Lu shenanigans, and appears to be impressively in the know and legitimately well-connected is @myfeetonfleek.

Celebrity gossip columnist Rob Shuter (The Naughty Gossip) recently expressed to podcast host Kate Casey (Reality Life with Kate Casey) that Luann is at a point where she doesn’t “need” RHONY and has a very full life outside of the show with friends, a packed itinerary and a successful cabaret show.

He said fans should not be surprised if Lu departs the RHONY franchise to focus on family, health and sobriety. Shuter also mentioned that producers from the longstanding Broadway production of Chicago were at one of her #CountessAndFriends (cabaret) performances.

Luann De Lesseps starring in Chicago in the near future? Could that actually happen?

For now, without official personal PR representation, the best person to ask might just be Bethenny!

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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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#RHONY, Bravo TV, Reality TV

#RHONY: Bethenny’s “Her or Me” Ultimatum

After hearing celebrity gossip columnist Rob Shuter speak to Kate Casey on her eponymous podcast Reality Life with Kate Casey (which I will be recapping shortly for AllAboutTRH.com), I caught up with the well-informed New Yorker to ask the question bugging me and so many fans of Real Housewives of New York.

“Was Carole Radziwill fired?”

After covering Bravo shows extensively for The Huffington Post contributor platform and interviewing many of the network’s talent over the years, one thing I’ve learned is that stars don’t simply quit while the season is airing. That is, unless something goes terribly wrong for them. In addition, Bravo does prefer to urge their talent to hand in a letter of resignation. This helps to avoid the semantics of “she was fired” and we’ve seen it in the past with Housewives of other franchises.

The network may or may not have gone this same “letter of resignation” route with Carole Radziwill, but it all boils down to the following:

“Carole was fired,” Shuter confirms. “Bethenny is great TV, but bad on a personal level.”

In his earlier interview with Casey, Shuter discussed Bethenny’s inability to maintain relationships, and we’ve seen on RHONY how her friendships have either experienced extreme turbulence and weathered those fraught conditions, or failed to thrive due to interpersonal chaos.

While Bethenny certainly isn’t “easy,” she is hilarious, clever and her one-liners have become truly exquisite RHONY gems. She knows how to drive a storyline despite exhausting viewers when an emotional roller coaster becomes terribly convoluted.

According to Shuter, Bethenny is most valuable to RHONY of all the cast mates. In the opinion of shrewd observers, after Carole went rogue in some of her interviews and refused to hold back in her Bravo blog entries (several of which Bravo reportedly asked her to go back and edit in order to tone down the verbiage), Carole put herself in a precarious position. In light of this, it makes sense when Rob confirms to me that Bethenny was successfully able to give producers the “It’s her or me” ultimatum.

Bethenny is seen by production, the network and fans alike as the powerhouse necessary for this franchise. However, there is also a contingent that views her as the difficult “mean girl” who has successfully chased other RHONY cast members away. It is an argument that can be made if you comb through the archives and consider cast members of past seasons who shared screen time with the Skinny Girl.

What do YOU think of Carole allegedly being fired from Real Housewives of New York?

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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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