'Real Housewives' Cast Minor Celebs in Beverly Hills: Who's Your Pick For The Next Series?
By Ben Widdicombe Posted Sep 10th 2010 03:00PM
Fans of Bravo's many 'Real Housewives' series might have noticed a subtle shift this week when the network announced its cast for the much-awaited Beverly Hills installment. Once devoted to suburban nobodies-albeit wealthy ones-the star-making potential of the series has begun to attract a higher quality of fame-seeker.
This week's 'Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion' delivered the highest ratings in the series' history. And with two of Paris Hilton's aunts and an ex-wife of Kelsey Grammer headlining the sixth U.S. iteration of the show, its path towards becoming 'The Surreal Life' seems to have begun.
Join PopEater now as we look at the spectacular rise of the show and try to create our own fantasy league of potential future Housewives.
Bravo's 'Real Housewives' franchise began in 2006 as a winking reference to the then-most-popular show on network TV, 'Desperate Housewives.' It was part of a trend to turn popular scripted shows into cheaper reality versions, just as 'The OC' begat MTV's 'Laguna Beach' and, later, 'Gossip Girl' inspired 'NYC Prep.'
The Orange County women of the original cast were supposed to be rich but "regular" women living suburban lives of luxury. At the time, there was no reason to think the players would be any more memorable than your average 'Survivor' contestant. But the success of the show and its spin-offs transformed the cast-members from pale reality stars into bona fide cultural icons.
Consider the change in the Housewives profile from its first series debut in March, 2006, to the infamous White House gatecrashers' incident of November, 2009. In just three and a half years, the franchise went from run-of-the-mill reality fare to actual international incident. Despicable? Maybe. But since the goal was capturing eyeballs, also undeniably successful.
Starting in January 2008, the franchise went from strength to strength by rolling out three successful brand extensions in just 15 months: New York, Atlanta and New Jersey. Brilliant casting ensured a volatile chemistry in each series that kept viewers coming back. And a decade into the "reality" boom, a mature audience seemed not to care that certain conflicts were transparently staged, so long as each episode ended with a satisfying smear of blood-red lipstick.
With the 'Real Housewives of DC' White House incident, the franchise entered murkier territory. It's one thing to have cast-members de-wig each other on the streets of Atlanta (thank-you, Kim and NeNe.) But to stage a stunt which ultimately wastes the time of the Secret Service and costs a senior White House official her job hurts people other than those who enjoy the guilty pleasure of trashy TV.
The question was, would the audience care? Judging by the solid if not record-breaking ratings of the DC series, the answer is "no." Personally, I love the 'Housewives' franchise, but I stop being amused when these narcissistic harpies start getting in the way of grown-ups trying to do their jobs (like, the President of the United States.) Likewise, if I were a resident of Franklin Lakes, NJ, I don't think I'd appreciate taxpayer-funded police cars being summoned by Danielle Staub because somebody pulled her weave for the cameras.
Clearly, I am in the minority. The Jersey antics are helping to drive 'Housewives' ratings into the stratosphere, with the most recent reunion nabbing almost 4 million viewers.
Which brings us to Beverly Hills. While the Manzo sisters and their frenemies might have come from obscurity, at least some of the new cast will be familiar to anyone who reads celebrity magazines. Camille Grammer, of course, recently divorced the star of 'Frasier.' And Kim and Kyle Richards have being playing a minor supporting role in the well-documented life of their niece, Paris Hilton, for years.
What this seems to mean is that Housewives casting has jumped a step in the food chain. No longer content to feast on the smallest fishes, the demand for even higher ratings means Bravo has reached for some women with at least minimal name recognition.
With six U.S. teams (and a seventh being developed in Athens, Greece) now playing in the Housewives league, the time seems right for casting a fantasy team.
Perennial MTV go-to Brigitte Nielsen (who has done everything form 'Flavor of Love' to 'Celebrity Rehab' and, most recently, the German version of 'Dancing With The Stars') seems like she'd be an obvious choice. And it would be amusing to put her with her fellow 'Surreal Life' alum (and upcoming U.S. 'Dancing With The Stars') contestant, Florence Henderson.
And how about the long-suffering Patti (Mrs. Rod) Blagojevich and that other quintessential TV wife, Heidi Montag, who were memorably paired on 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here'? Or, for someone who knows how to throw a punch, Muhammad Ali's boxer-daughter Laila could be a good choice.
Who would you like to see in a 'Real Housewives' fantasy league? And will you be watching the new Beverly Hills season, or do you think the show has already gone too far?
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