TV Reviews

Bravo to Bravo – you sucked me in

At the beginning of quarantine, when we thought it was just going to be two weeks, I decided to subscribe to Hayu for the first free month. I figured – this will be fun and free and I’ll cancel at the end of the month when we all go back to work and I won’t have time to watch anything. Lol.

It has now been 6 months and I’m addicted.

It’s well known that I love reality tv – I love watching it and I love making it. However, somehow I had never gotten into Bravo. Over the years people had suggested that I’d love the Real Housewives or that Vanderpump Rules was the best tv show ever. I had seen an episode of Below Deck on E! and it was fun, but I really hadn’t sat down and invested in it. I think the main issue is that I didn’t know where to start.

I wanted to properly watch these shows and really get into them. I wanted to start from the beginning and invest in the shows. But where to start? I didn’t know if you had to start with Real Housewives of NY or OC or BH or Atlanta or…  there were just so many options! Could I just jump into a season or would I love it more if I started from the beginning… it was overwhelming and frankly, I had enough drama to enjoy as a proud member of Bachelor Nation.

But Hayu made this easy – everything was in one place in a very easy binge-able set up. So I dove in.

I decided to start with Real Housewives – and I decided to start at the beginning with Real Housewives of Orange County.

Let me tell you friends – I didn’t like it. I understood why people liked the show, but that first season of RHOC was not great.

I’m going to back up and speculate here, but this show was released in 2006, which probably meant it went into development in 2005. That makes sense to me – 2005 was the peak of The O.C. craze. Julie Cooper was on everyone’s tv screens. The “Newpsies” were fictional characters… right? With Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County the country fell in love with the ‘real’ OC kids – Lauren Conrad, Kristin Cavallari, and Stephen Colletti. It only makes sense that we wanted to meet the ‘real’ OC moms. Enter Bravo with the RHOC. I should have loved it. I loved The O.C., I was obsessed with  Laguna Beach and The Hills. But, the problem was that RHOC was filmed in 2005/6 and I was watching it in 2020. The storylines were not interesting, I didn’t care about the women, and in general, the filming was… well very cheap 2005.

However – I understood the format and I did like the format and friends suggested that you just need to find ‘your RH’ – so I moved along and tried Real Housewives of New York.

I instantly found ‘my RH’. RHONY is perfect reality TV. That first season with Bethenny Frankel, Luann de Lesseps, Alex McCord, Ramona Singer, and Jill Zarin – I loved it. Yes – it was still cheap 2008, but this time it worked. Perhaps the story team knew what they were doing after a few seasons of RHOC, and perhaps the casting team had more clout to find these women after RHOC – but whatever it was, this season clicked. I inhaled the three seasons and I’m currently on S4 – but frankly, it’s not the same without Bethenny. I’m sticking with it because I know she comes back – but like, that woman is a STAR. I’m excited about slowly working through all TWELVE seasons of this show, it might take time but friends I’ll check in because this drama is worth discussing.

Obviously, I could have watched all 12 seasons – but I wanted to get a taste of the other shows, so when Bethenny moved along, I also moved along…

To the 3rd franchise of the show – Real Housewives of Atlanta. I watched the full first season and it was highly entertaining. To remind you, this was the season with Lisa Wu, DeShawn Snow, NeNe Leakes, Kim Zolciak and Shereé Whitfield. I was into it. Not as into it as RHONY but RHOA worked. I knew who NeNe Leakes was but I loved watching her on TV. Like Bethenny, she was clearly the star of this season (much to Kim’s frustration) and I’m well aware she is the STAR for many seasons.

I didn’t continue with this show past Season one, again because I wanted to watch all the different franchises – but I have a deep appreciation for this version. I think we see a lot of rich white women on tv – and we hardly ever see rich Black women on tv. We need to see more Black women on our screens in general and while this is not a perfect show, and the franchise, in general, should have more diversity – I appreciate that RHOA exists and was an early addition to the Real Housewives world.

I also watched the first full season of Real Housewives of New Jersey. I found it interesting that while both Jersey Shore and RHONJ both came out in 2009 – RHONJ premiered seven months before Jersey Shore.  I would have thought because RHOC was clearly influenced by other popular O.C. shows, RHONJ might have been influenced by The Situation.  More likely, RHONJ was probably influenced by The Sopranos which wrapped in 2007. I really liked that RHONJ had a family feel to it. I thought having the show be dominated by a ‘big New Jersey Italian Family’ worked. Off the top – the Manzo’s have mob energy and I loved it. I 100% want to go to their banquet hall and have spaghetti. But like every show, there has to be one STAR and in this case, it was Teresa Giudice. She is one of those ‘you can’t possibly be a real person’ people and her TABLE FLIP during the final dinner when Danielle Staub started talking… INCREDIBLE tv. I stuck around for a bit into the 2nd season to see what happened next, but it didn’t have that same energy. Season one set the bar high and season two didn’t hit it.

So again, I moved along. I only did one episode of Real Housewives of D.C. I honestly wanted to love it. I love politics and I thought women in a political city would be great… it just didn’t suck me in that first episode like RHONY, RHOA, and RHONJ did. So I kept moving and hit Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. 

RHOBH might be my favourite. These women are next level. The BH girls bring in everything I love about all the other seasons and elevate it. I watched the first three seasons of this one – which in my books, makes it a tie with RHONY. Off the top you’ve got the sister dynamic of Kim and Kyle which is wild – add in the fact that they are Paris Hilton’s aunts and you’ve got some very interesting Reality TV legacies here. I love early seasons Kyle. I’ve heard rumours that she’s not great in the later seasons, but right now – I’m obsessed. I would also like to host a white party for my hot husband every year and have a bunch of adorable daughters. I could leave the crazy sister, but you know – Mauricio Umansky. Then you’ve got Adrienne Maloof – I love a business owner. Sure she’s got lots of family money… but you know still a business owner and I’m here for a career lady and not just a stay at home and spa lady. This is also why I LOVE Lisa Vanderpump. Watching her run her restaurants is a joy. She is outrageous and British and I’m here for it. I could take or leave Camille Grammer and Taylor Armstrong – but these two women brought REAL drama to the show and made the show much more interesting. Camille’s journey was fast – she went from show villain to favourite over the course of two seasons while dealing with her divorce. It kept the show fresh and locked me in. Taylor’s wild journey with her husband was… nothing like I’ve seen on TV. I read all the spoilers – so I knew her husband was abusive. Watching the show in those early seasons, knowing what we knew about the situation, was at times frustrating and at other times heartbreaking. The famous Woman Pointing At A Cat meme – it’s not funny nor should it be a meme. It’s a woman in deep pain caused by gender-based violence.  RHOBH is great tv because it moves from discussing $25000 sunglasses to alcoholism to Giggy’s outfits. It is always a ride.

I can’t move along here without mentioning Andy Cohen.

I love a talk show. I watch a lot of them (give me James, Jimmy x 2, Stephen, Graham, Trevor, Sam, or Hasan any day of the week). I’ve always been impressed with Andy Cohen’s celebrity interviews – but now, I love him even more. The way he runs the reunion specials is masterful. While the ladies can annoy me, Andy cuts through their bullshit and calls them out. I didn’t realize that he started out hosting the reunion shows before he started hosting Watch What Happens Live. As an executive producer of reality tv, a talk show host, and as a person – I would really love to talk shop with him. I feel like there is a whole other blog here – but I want the record to show that I really admire his work and the empire he’s built. I might go as far as to say, I would love to one day become the Canadian Andy Cohen… but I don’t really want to be on camera, so why don’t I become the Canadian Andy Cohen’s production partner haha.

Now – as you can tell, I’m sucked into the Bravo universe at this point. It was time to dive into the spin-offs.

I started with Vanderpump Rules because I adore Lisa Vanderpump and EVERYONE raves about it. But I didn’t like it – and I gave it a solid chance! I watched the first season and I got halfway through the second season before I quit.

The problem here is that I dislike EVERYONE on the show. They are all awful. If they are not spoiled or entitled, they are unintelligent and egotistical. There is no one I am rooting for – in fact, I found myself hate-watching the show.  I wanted to see them screw up and get yelled at by Lisa. But frankly, hate-watching is not what I want to be doing.

I’m feeling extremely down with the state of the world. Everything sucks. People are dying. The constant stress that comes with this pandemic is compounding and it’s impacting me. I need uplifting, inspiring, and fun shows. Vanderpump Rules is the opposite of what I need. So I stopped watching.

Then Stassi got fired for being a racist and then so did Kristen, Max, and Brett. There are so many good shows to watch – WHY am I watching this show.

But Bravo has me sucked in so I moved over to Summer House. When I said I tried to watch Summer House – I mean it. I LOVE summer, cottage culture and young people on reality tv shows so this should have been perfect. But I found myself watching it with the mindset of ‘I want to go to a Summer House (aka a cottage with all my friends)… but I can’t because of the pandemic… I hate the pandemic…’ and would find myself in tears watching people running around the Hamptons. Sooo…. that wasn’t great.

I want to love this show and I want to get into it. So we’re going to put this on pause. I want to watch this show and try again next year. Post pandemic. When I can watch the show in anticipation of weekends with friends at cottages and actually look forward to something rather than watch with such jealousy of the good old years before the global pandemic….

The same can be said for Camp Getaway.  I loved this show and will do a dedicated post about it soon, but I had to stop watching it for a bit there because I was so sad my camp was canceled this summer.

If you’re still with me you’re probably wondering if that’s the end of this Bravo adventure. Nope.

I fell in love with Below Deck. I have watched all seven seasons, plus two seasons of Below Deck: Mediterranean. This is my ultimate Bravo show. I have so much to say about Below Deck – I’m also going to make a separate post dedicated to it exclusively. We’ll discuss Eddie in-depth 🙂

To wrap this up, I think Bravo has an incredible slate of shows. They understand the reality genre and know how to build a killer brand. At the start of quartine, I pretty much exclusively watched Bravo. Yet as we went from two weeks to two months to six months, I slowly dropped off the Bravo wagon (with the exception of Below Deck). With the insanity of 2020, I’m tired of the insignificant drama. The issue I have with Bravo shows, in general, is related to the conceited people on the shows. I think in normal times, I wouldn’t have these issues.  Will I come back to Bravo – absolutely.

RHOBH and RHONY will both be shows I turn to when I’m looking for something light to binge while I’m crafting or to have something in on the background. I’m deep into the Below Deck fandom and I can’t wait to finish up Med and start Sailing Yacht. I know I’ll come back to Camp Getaway and Summer House. I just need this pandemic to end so that I can go back to watching shows with feeling the pain of seeing people casually touch. 

Alternatively… I’ve heard they’ve filmed some of the RH shows during quarantine… which would be very interesting… Bravo fans. Let me know 🙂

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