Bravo, Bravo!

Reality shows generally operate under the same formula: take an uneducated blow-up doll and give them their own soapbox. On this soapbox, this uneducated person will undoubtedly say horribly stupid things and we, the viewers, can laugh at their ignorance and in turn feel better about ourselves. It’s not rocket science. It’s reality TV.

But in recent years, Bravo has given the reality television genre a much-needed makeover. For starters, they’ve veered away from the usual reality show target i.e. a twenty-something and have graciously given the spotlight to middle-aged men and women. Genius and largely unprecedented. Secondly, reality shows main focus is to propel relative unknowns into reality TV stardom. Their focus is to get people exposure based on a reality show, not any kind of legitimate career. This totally sucks because it gives unecessary fame to gross people like Paris Hilton, the girls of The Hills, Kim Kardashian and Tila Tequila.

Bravo flips that around and bases their shows around a professional whose career is already established (Millionaire Matchmaker, Kell On Earth, Flipping Out). These people are successful, rich, articulate and quirky. They’re doing their reality show not to gain infamy but as a way to boost business and feed their ego. This goes against what many people believe to be what reality TV is all about: making dumb people famous for nothing outside of doing their own reality show. Their “reality”, by the way, is largely indebted to their reality show. When Kim Kardashian is filmed doing a swimsuit shoot on Keeping Up With The Kardashian, it’s safe to assume that she landed said shoot based on the exposure and high ratings of her show. Without it, the only thing Kim Kardashian would be booking is starring roles in her own sex tape.

Obviously, Bravo isn’t perfect (Nor should they be.)  The Real Housewives franchise, for example,  is built around entitled narcissitic rich people of little redeemable intelligence. (Exception being the New York cast. Jill Zarin and Bethenny Frankel aren’t stupid.) Like Paris & Kim K., many of the Real Housewives have parlayed their reality show fame into record deals and clothing lines.

But Bravo shows are smart. They’re edited brilliantly.

The Real Housewives of Orange County could’ve been produced as simplisitic, light and frothy.  The message could’ve been just like the other reality shows that feature oppulent lifestyles: “Rich people are undeserving of their wealth and awful people.” And granted,  it is like that sometimes. But it’s mostly just really depressing brilliant social commentary. These women are fucked up and sad. Seriously, if I had their lives, I would keep a camera crew far away. They expose so much of themselves that it can be almost uncomfortable to watch. It’s compelling stuff. You almost empathize with them. And that’s what Bravo wants you to feel, that’s their point-of-view.

Kelly Cutrone is so brilliant, she gives me chills. Her perceptive behavior towards fashion culture is so spot-on and refreshing. It’s like she’s this outsider that was given a VIP pass to this insane other world. It’s the antidote to the equally-entertaining Rachel Zoe Project. Unlike Rachel Zoe, Kelly Cutrone acknowledges the ridiculousness of fashion designers and her job. Does that mean she’s not gonna flip her shit over something as silly as a misplaced guest list? No but at least she’ll have some perspective while doing it.


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