How the Housewives Franchise Blew Up

Who DOESN’T love The Real Housewives? Whether you have a favorite set of ladies or you watch them all like me, it seems as though everyone is captivated with Bravo’s big moneymaker. Females between the ages of 18-49 provide each episode with up to 200 million viewers! And According to The Hollywood Reporter, there has been between 35.6 and 162 million in ad revenue depending on the particular show. We could argue until the end of time on which show is most popular, and which housewife is the most real… And we do, on twitter, which the network loves. But it is a fact that our preferences are matter of personal opinion, and wow are there alot of those going on. Most of us have seen first hand that this series can spark all out war between fans and I for one have never encountered such dedicated fans anywhere besides my twitter timeline. Ladies of all ages are often ready to throw down and exchange personal threats all in the name of defending their favorite personality, even when the show hasn’t aired in months. We wait anxiously for our favorite to premier and in the mean time, rumors run rampant. All of this only brings more exposure and publicity to the show, so while we are wasting precious hours arguing, the ladies and Andy Cohen only hear Ching Ching.

Beginning with Orange County, the series have now been with us for six years and spanned seven cities. It has been confirmed that there are plans for the show to go international. I don’t know about you, but the Real Housewives of Abu Dhabi sounds like something I would watch for sure. With Housewives international formats already airing in Greece and Israel, and a Vancouver spinoff to bow in March, NBCUniversal says casting is under way for a Housewives offshoot in France (a make-or-break market because of its broader reach and its potential for greater ad revenue), with Australia’s Gold Coast, Asia (Indonesia, Singapore, and Hong Kong) and the U.K. soon to follow. Housewives will become then first international reality soap opera and it’s half billion dollar franchise could multiply.

From The Hollywood Reporter :

“We wanted something very authentic and they started to film something Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque,” Frances Berwick, president of Bravo and Style Mediarecant bettinge beginnings of The Real Housewives of Orange County. “It required a whole revision, so we came to a point where we had to decide whether to sink more money into it or just pull the plug.” She gambled heavily on the project and went ahead with what would later become the beginning of Bravo’s successful Housewives franchise.

This weeks copy of the magazine features heavy hitters from each series. Caroline Manzo, Vicki Gunvalson, Kyle Richards, Ramona Singer and NeNe Leakes grace the cover. So many of us have continually asked, HOW MUCH do these ladies make? The mag confirms each woman draws a six figure payday from her respective season, the New York ladies will pocket $250,000 each from season five. And in addition to salary from the show itself, the position and celebrity offers each cast member a unique platform. Over a dozen books total from all the women combined and everything else you could imagine, from clothing and makeup lines to margaritas. For example, Bethenny Frankel’s Skinny Girl brand raked in $120 million. Our favorite girls are not doing too shabby at all, it’s no wonder the are willing to put their personal lives, drama, family and relationships on the chopping block for all to witness. With well over 100,000 followers each, and not limited to twitter they receive heavy scrutiny for every move they make. Brandi Glanville’s choice to get drunk and married over the weekend earned her 3,000 new followers in 2 hours, most of which were very negative. And as we all know, twitter is not a place where people hold back any feelings.
Housewives has been the center for much public criticism in the wake of 47 year old Russel Armstrong’s suicide, and has been blamed for it directly. Many cast members even asked the network to cancel the season. In the end Andy Cohen revealed they debated endlessly, and finally came to the conclusion they would air the show and be as sensitive as possible toward the subject of Russell’s death.
Some cast members have been cast off over the years, Including a heavily controversial Jill Zarin. When she was fired, she claimed it was unfair that she was not compensated because she herself cast the show. Zarin says she brought in Bethenney Frankel and feels she is entitled to residuals from her spin off shows, the first being Bethenney Getting Married.

There has been a ton of speculation about the show being scripted, and in the mag one producer, Doug Ross admits that the ladies are often asked to plan events such as Taylor Armstrong’s daughters 50,000 birthday party which she received much scrutiny for and other dramatic events such as the RHOBH group seance. One OC housewife said she lost sleep at night because of all the forced drama. The ladies meet with producers to discuss story lines and they pick and choose which happenings in their lives are bankable or appropriate, often injecting issues which otherwise may not happen. This makes me wonder which parts of the show are actually real and if the forced events actually become real in themselves, causing much of the arguing and intense feuding we see, such as on RHONJ. Does it make you wonder about the christening, or Melissa’s Christmas party? Which parts of those episodes were producer suggested? We may never know.
But producers insist for the most part, the show is real because otherwise the audience would smell the fake right away and what would be the point?

From The Hollywood Reporter :

THR went behind the scenes at a shoot for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills where new cast member Brandi Glanville pretended not to hear the snickering coming from cast mates Kyle Richards’ and Lisa Vanderpump’s direction. “One of the girls asked me what I think of Brandi,” Vanderpump whispers loudly to Richards. “And I said, ‘Who?’ ” The pair burst into laughter. And during THR’s cover shoot, Ramona Singer tried to peddle her Ramona brand wine to anyone who’d take a cup and while discussing its high quality, Leakes stifled a laugh. Later, she offered Manzo and Gunvalson a sample. They declined, barely looking up from their mobile phones.

Anyway you look at it, those women definitely create drama amongst themselves and added influences only make us more eager to catch the newest episode. Housewives was originally meant to be a short film that was ultimately rejected and after years of pushing, finally got accepted and flourished into the series we love so much today. And flourish it does, when shows such as Jersey Shore even begin to slow down…Ratings dropped 13% last season. But us girls continue to love our HWs more and more, they bring their lives to our living room and much like Jerry’s one of those things I love to watch and think, “wow, glad it’s not me.” Well, with the exception of the beautiful mansions, cars and clothes…. for such a lifestyle I am willing to bet many of us would offer our lives up for the sake of entertainment, too.