Is it time for Bravo to launch its first gay ‘Real Housewife’?
Every queer viewer nodded in unison when The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills‘ Newbie Diana Jenkins, meeting her castmates on camera for the first time in the season 12 premiere, confessed that she was a gay man trapped in a woman’s body. And on a show that includes veterans Lisa Rinna and Eryka Jayne, Jenkins isn’t the only one at the table whose personality channels daring weirdness or whose style might dabble in drag.
In fact, what gay man hasn’t seen himself in one of the eccentric and fearless women who brought international fame (and criticism) to the Bravo franchise? Arguably, there has been more visibility of gay culture among the housewives themselves than in the glimpses of gay men symbolized in sporadic episodes, as the next must-have accessory. Although many housewives rely on the emotional support and stylistic wisdom of their gay friends or assistants, these men never step out of this limited role.
There’s never been a gay “Real Housewife” in the franchise’s main cast, which might not come as a surprise considering it’s always been female-centric. But given that the LGBT community is considered one of the show’s most passionate fans. Is it time Bravo honored them by changing that?
Andy’s daughters podcast creator and animator Sarah Galli tells the Daily Beast that she doesn’t think it should be about whether a gay man could be featured as a cast member, but should they or they.
“There’s a diversity that’s taken place in the idea of what makes a Real Housewife a Real Housewife,” she says, “But as a female podcaster who talks about these women for hours a week, I think we would lose something if these stories stopped being female-specific.
Bravo started the series with a mission to transport millions of viewers into the shamelessly messy lives of affluent metropolitan housewives. Its executive producer Andy Cohen has repeatedly reiterated his belief in keeping authenticity in the show’s cast. (You could say that the exception is the beverly hills franchise, though featuring B-list or C-list actresses, still lands on the Hollywood-adjacent city brand.)
“The greatest example [of the evolution] would be Bethenny Frankel, who was cast as a single, broke, childless woman,” Galli says, “I’m sure there were questions at some point on behalf of the network. I mean, the original New York title was Manhattan Moms, then they dumped Bethenny. So it was a bit off the beaten track.
It was one of the first times the network broke free from the mold that Bravo had planned for the franchise. Frankel, who has become arguably the biggest name in the Housewives universe, has proven the value of creative casting beyond the “housewives” prompt. The Skinny Girl founder, who was a guest investor on shark tank and was one of the few to voluntarily quit RHONY (twice!), demonstrated the magnitude of wealth achievable through the platform if you know how to use it.
Galli says that while Bravo created the Housewives as a vehicle and vessel to expand the experiences of older women and their friend groups, there are other ways to increase queer visibility, such as creating more diverse and inclusive outside of the Housewives umbrella. (Although she does note that queer women should be part of the franchise.) “I don’t know if there’s a lot of content out there that features the voices of women in their 40s or 50s and shows them a life of “escapism and fun. and often dramatic. That’s where a lot of people tune in to these shows. You can see these women go through many chapters in their lives, growing old and the complications that entails.”
Cohen himself revealed in past interviews that the franchise came close to that gay stage in the late 2000s. “I think the answer is that we were open to it. We almost threw a guy over [Real Housewives of New Jersey] who was Dina Manzo’s brother and Caroline’s brother as the first gay housewife. Watch what’s happening live the host also admitted that the network had considered starting a group of Lesbian Housewives in the past.
But these gay ideas never materialized. OkCupid’s Director of Communications (and Housewives superfan) Michale Kaye tells The Daily Beast that he would give up his firstborn to be cast as the franchise’s first gay man. He believes that every queer person has a role to play on any Bravo show, especially since a significant portion of its audience is female or gay.
“We live in a very different world from the one we were in two decades ago. There is a way to balance the original mission of empowering and uplifting gentrified women and making sure you include gay people.
Speaking from the perspective of someone who helps run a leading matchmaking app, he thinks New York would be the most appropriate city to bring a gay man into the existing mix, although the recent cast changes may complicate matters. “But then, you can argue,” Kaye says, “it’s important for a network like Bravo to bring queer stories to cities where visibility is more of a challenge.”
If we’ve learned anything from the past two years of endless reboots, the top-rated ones delicately balance an audience’s nostalgia with their desire for something new, as seen with the success of The Real Housewives of Miami revival on Peacock. Otherwise, you risk the public comparing it mercilessly to its predecessor. Miami star Julia Lemigova, for example, is the first lesbian to be featured as a housewife.
“I’ve been watching Bravo for over a decade,” Kaye says, “and only a handful of LGBTQ personality stars come to mind. It’s weird to say ‘typed’ in a conversation about TV shows. -reality, but that’s how you see gay people on these programs. He’s too flamboyant a character, someone who acts more feminine.
“When I saw gay people on TV [growing up], they didn’t represent how I acted,” he adds. The pattern established on Bravo so far seems to perpetuate this, which could be an argument against casting a gay man on Housewives. “After feeling so different from my straight peers, I also felt different from my gay community.”
The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s Meredith Marks tells the Daily Beast that she thought about what it would be like for a gay man to be on her show. She says most of the women featured aren’t really housewives anyway, so that shouldn’t be the reason it didn’t happen. “Most of us work at one level or another. We are not sitting at home twiddling our thumbs and taking care of the children. So I agree; it has completely evolved. For me, it’s more about dynamics and relationships and seeing that unfold. Having a gay man there would be fantastic. It would bring a different energy to the band, and I like that.
The jewelry designer believes the secret formula for any city’s ultimate success is to bring together people from different walks of life and experiences. “If everyone was the same, you wouldn’t have the drama. Most drama, in my opinion, is based on people’s different perceptions of life, communication, and relationships. You throw them together and it just happens naturally. We all see things differently because we are wired differently.
Still, viewers might have a harder time digesting a man involved in the shouting and the throwing of cocktails than a group of single women.
There is a representational burden whenever someone from a marginalized community is on screen. And, as we have seen, members of a minority population are often held to a higher standard. Would a gay “housewife” be held to a higher standard of behavior than the cast members whose outrageous actions we’ve come to celebrate?
Kaye reflects on what happened with the The Real Housewives of the Potomac and how the entire cast came under scrutiny for a physical altercation that occurred between Monique Samuels and
Candice Dillard in the Season 5 finale. “It was disheartening. Over the years, how many times have we seen white women shoving each other, threatening each other, or throwing themselves drinking? It’s just aggression. We give credit to Teresa Guidice for flipping a table, but there’s a different level of control when it comes to people of color and queer people.
On the other hand, Marks doesn’t see this as a potential problem. There are plenty of gay men who act as the only male warrior in their cast of fabulous women. Bravo should not tolerate abusive behavior by any member, regardless of gender. Marks is also from a city that featured other cast members arrested by Homeland Security, accused of leading a religious cult, making racist comments online, and we didn’t even get the Trojan. by Lisa Barlow (who acted as Marks’ best friend throughout season 1 and most of 2, only to then verbally destroy her character and reputation in one of the hot mic’s most viral moments ). A gay man, Marks thinks, could be a welcome respite from the chaos.
According to Marks, the focus should be less on whether it is a gay man, a trans woman or a lesbian, but on the analysis of the individual who would be the best addition. to the group in question. “I think it can happen in several cities, including Salt Lake City.” The idea of an all-queer cast intrigues her, but she says the goal should be to unite mutual friends and acquaintances on TV rather than planting them together with an agenda.
The gods of the Bravo Network will undoubtedly decide what happens in the future. But changing the course of the tide is how you stay ahead of the wave. A gay man won’t make or break any of the series, but they could help spark a revival. After all, the city that never sleeps has been sleeping long enough.