In Defense Of "The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills”
For those unaware, the reason for criticism is because Russell Armstrong, estranged husband of main cast member Taylor Armstrong, committed suicide August 15. After appearing in a negative light on season one of the Bravo reality series, many believed Russell killed himself because he may not have been able to handle his financial troubles and marriage falling apart in the public eye or upcoming season.
Despite the tragedy, Bravo executives decided to continue with the show. They would re-edit parts of the series and also add suicide prevention PSAs during the shows.
After the first episode aired, many critics across the country had harsh words. One Los Angeles Times critic said, “The only meaningful statement Bravo could have made after the suicide last month of ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ spouse Russell Armstrong would have been to cancel Season 2.” The writer went on to describe the show as a, “creepy necro-party game.” Entertainment Weekly called the season premiere, “grotesque” and said, “Russell’s death was the only thing that made the hour remotely bearable.”
Tuesday morning, “Housewives” Lisa Vanderpump, Kyle Richards and Adrienne Maloof went on NBC’s The “Today” Show to defend the episode.
Maloof told Ann Curry that Bravo and the cast, “agreed to take the higher route. If you sweep [the suicide] under the rock, then what good does that do?” She added Bravo hopes to turn a negative situation into a positive one by sharing resources about suicide, depression and mental health.
Richards said she watched the first episode with Taylor Armstrong last week. She said Armstrong “thought they handled it respectively.” She was, “pleased with the outcome.”
The final minutes of episode one Monday night showed an extended preview of season two. Between Kim and Kyle Richards fighting with new-girl Brandi Glanville, Camille Grammer walking out of a talk with Kyle, Cedric crashing Lisa’s party uninvited and Adrienne arguing with her husband, one could easily argue there is enough drama without Russell being ever brought up.
That all may be true but it's important to bring up that every housewife and family is not forced to sign on for the show and be filmed for several months. Every returning cast member experienced an entire season and knew the harsh truth of editing, twisting words and manipulation that’s all part of reality TV. Saying no to another season would be upsetting to fans at first. But after complaining for a short time, those same viewers would move on to judging and critiquing the new wife.
There’s no question Russell Armstrong’s suicide is tragic and being on a reality show might have contributed to his decline in mental health. Nonetheless, every potential viewer has the choice to turn the show on or off.
Season two will be different. However, the catfights, lavish lifestyles and bling that made the show successful in the first place will remain. For that, this viewer will continue to watch.
Reach writer Mike Vulpo here
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