The recent Season 12 reunion of “The Real Housewives of New York City” was a strange affair: since March, Andy Cohen, who has endured zoom reunions for Bravo shows like “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” After enduring zooming reunions for Bravo shows like “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “Vanderpump Rules” and “Summer House,” Andy Cohen finally brought the women together. It was a small return to normalcy, even if, in the midst of the impending economic crisis, they had to sit six feet apart and cover the vast space between them with enough rug to keep Empire from going into the red. But before Tinsley Mortimer could finally berate Dorinda Medley, before Ramona Singer could apologize for everything she’d ever done, before Sonja Morgan could repeat, “We’re all going to die, but you can catch a nice dick while you’re at it. But first, everyone had to fight for ten minutes about COVID.
On a recent Instagram Live by Leah McSweeney, the latest apple holder, Cohen wrote, “I was having a great time during my quarantine in Florida and then …… I’m back in New York and I’m not taking this shit seriously: …. Bringing up her criticism of the “fuck yous” and the performers, she clearly directed her comments at Ramona, the only housewife who had survived the worst of the segregation in the South. Dorinda was also upset with Ramona, but this was already unfolding on social media, as just a few days before Guilfoyle tested positive for the virus, Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle attended a Hamptons Republican It was revealed that Ramona had been a guest at a fundraiser attended by Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle. In a decidedly political turn of phrase, Dorinda said that Ramona was hanging around Mar-a-Lago and not worried about the virus.
This argument was followed by Leah and Dorinda criticizing Ramona’s behavior, saying, “I didn’t have the virus. I didn’t have the virus,” “I don’t wear a mask in the ocean. I don’t wear a mask in the ocean,” she said in the affected tone of a five-year-old, pretending as if she hadn’t done anything terrible. It was the same kind of reality as watching my aunt and her high school classmates interacting on Facebook.
What made this part of the reunion strange and upsetting wasn’t the fact that the housewives were fighting. We’re used to it and welcome it like Kim Zolciak-Biermann welcomes lip fillers. That’s not to say that the housewives were fighting over who was assigned what room during the vacations, or whether someone deserved an apology. Now, all of a sudden, they’re fighting about things that really matter.
It’s a strange time for the Housewives series, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary this March. It became a cultural phenomenon because we loved to watch awful rich (sort of) people behave awfully. It was escapism. It was also a way to feel better about their lives. Sure, they may have been monsters, but they were our monsters. But will our monsters ever get over this particular cultural moment?
The battle of the RHONY reunion COVID reveals two major problems that Housewives, along with much of reality television, are staring at right now: the first is one of the reasons why Kardashians failed; the second is that we have no idea what to do about it. Reality shows take a very long time to get to us. We’ve already seen the battles being waged in the press and on social media long before they appear on our TV screens: on Twitter and Instagram, and perhaps on Pinterest and Grindr, where women and gays who love housewives congregate, by their ardent fans. How can this battle feel fresh when it’s already being analyzed?
Another problem is that the reality of COVID life has begun to invade the franchise, and our escapism is no longer escapism. The time lag in production is a blessing in disguise in this regard. During our confinement, we ate episodes that were filmed in a blissful time when no one knew what the R number meant. (Are we sure it’s not the number of a woman with the last name Richard in one episode of RHOBH?) Sure, we were cooped up in the house, but at least we had this to watch and heal us in between tumbles of fate. Now it’s coming to an end, and I don’t think any of us are ready for it.
According to the trailer, the vision of the future of reality TV is not a very good one. The trailer begins with the usual housewives debacle, but reveals that this season will eventually coincide with the start of incarceration. Producers tell the women to sit six feet away from each other, Kelly Dodd wears a mask with a zipper as if she believes masks don’t work, Shannon Bieder cries, “People don’t follow my rules,” and she breathes into what looks like a respirator! or breathing into some kind of breathing apparatus.
In particular, Shannon Storms Bieder is a woman so concerned about her health that she once had an enema shoved into her back. And these episodes appear just as we are on our way.
Even the upcoming “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” is shockingly more diverse than dinosaurs like RHOC and RHONY. Can a city with a white Mormon faith and a reputation as the home of Mitt Romney’s clones have more people of color than New York or Los Angeles?
How can they make a movie when most restaurants are closed, families are kept separately, and public events are harder than covering your face at Trump rallies? But given that you’ve checked your bingo card for 2020, things are different now. Without political conflicts, public protests and pandemics, our favorite fearsome women could have been free to keep doing bad things forever. But now that more and more fans are held accountable to public officials for what they say and do on camera and in their personal lives, reality stars who grew up in aty will find a way to respond or, as Bravo has told us for years, the only way to find out is to “see what happens.”