Dear Bravo, Wake Up!

Last week, sometime between the end of “Revenge” and the second or third showing of “Top Chef – Texas”, I must have dozed off.  When I woke up, the cheftestants were no longer in Texas, but were cooking food in gondolas over snow-covered mountains in Vancouver, British Columbia.  As if that wasn’t enough to confuse my already sleep-addled self, Sarah and Beverly had entered the Winter Olympics as competitors in the biathlon – shooting and skiing their way to a finalist’s spot.  Someone tell me what any of this has to do with being a top chef.  I like the timed challenges and exotic ingredients – oh, never mind, that’s an episode of “Chopped”.

Bravo is losing a lot of loyal viewers and they don’t seem to care.  Many of us have expressed our frustration with all of the Housewives franchises.  It gets harder and harder to find something to write about when you have no interest in their shenanigans.   I spent a good part of the time that “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” was on this past Sunday, downloading software for my tax returns and actually found it more entertaining.

In what BravoTV thinks is a clever move, they are creating more and more drama where none really exists.   I looked forward to seeing Bethenny again, only to watch her becoming more unhappy, and maybe even a little more manic, by the minute.  The newly married couple who were expecting a baby with all of the joy that such things bring were not there.  Instead, we are watching two people who don’t seem to know the first thing about each other.  Whatever Dr. Amador is doing isn’t working.  In fact, it looks like Bethenny has slipped even deeper into her insecurity, paranoia and need to control.

The Housewives, in all of their various locales, are turning into cartoon characters.  Nearly everything they say or do looks like they are working it for the cameras.  I know it’s hard to be yourself when your every word and movement is being recorded, but it all appears to be a whole lot of smoke and mirrors now.  You just can’t be that mad or jealous or petty, and still want to hang out together.  We know that we are being played and we don’t like it.  Entertainment shouldn’t make us angry or anxious or disgusted.  That’s what politicians are for.

I, for one, expected something entirely different from what I am watching now.  Watching women screaming, fighting, getting drunk, using drugs and playing with sex toys is not fun or funny.  We’re finding out that there is much more going on in these women’s lives than they would have us believe.  Most of them are not smart or rich or successful.  Most of them are liars – about everything – from their alleged wealth to the status of their relationships, and sometimes they’re not even good at that.  The fact that we are seeing these episodes months after they are filmed doesn’t help, either.  The tabloids follow these people constantly, and we are made aware of things, happening in the present, that make us look at our screens in utter disbelief.  That little Google thing is a powerful tool, and it’s hard to keep up the facade when we already know how some of these stories are going to end.

In my very first post on this blog, I talked about the Bravo executives and how the new Bravo came about.  I opened my post today with comments about “Top Chef” because of a portion of the New York Times article that I had mentioned in my first post.  It stuck in my head because I thought it best described how the folks at Bravo viewed their future cast members and contestants.

“Andy Cohen, the head of original programming and development at Bravo, floated a proposal for “Top Chef” that would involve, early on in the new season, a surprise challenge and the swift elimination of a contestant. Zalaznick and company wouldn’t allow me to give away what is known in the genre as “the reveal” — the unexpected dramatic twist — but suffice it to say, the challenge was an otherwise mundane cooking task that, when performed under pressure, would thoroughly unnerve the chefs. “I really like it,” Zalaznick said. For her, the idea neatly captured the ruthless way in which the big city can chew up and spit out even the best provincial talents: “It’s like, you’ve really arrived in New York — it’s where you fight for your terrible pot-washing job after you’ve been executive chef back in wherever, and then you get fired for washing your pot wrong.”

“You don’t think it’s a little gratuitous?” asked Frances Berwick, the general manager for Bravo.

“Guess what?” Zalaznick said. “It’s the toughest city in the country.” She and Cohen tossed around a few ways they could ramp up the drama even more. Berwick laughed and shook her head. “That’s terrible.”*

Those very same executives haven’t caught up to the realization that we’re already looking for other programs to fill our time.  Many of us watch “Revenge”, “Downton Abbey”, “Sons of Anarchy”, “Mad Men” and “The Voice”.  I’d rather cheer on my favorite serial killer, “Dexter”, than watch most of the nonsense Bravo is feeding us.   “Top Chef” has lost over 1 million viewers in the past three years, from a high of 3.9 million for Season 6, to 2.8 million during Season 9.  Bravo, you’re going to lose more of us if you don’t wise up.

I think that I hang in there because I keep hoping that Bravo will bring us something new and better.  Perhaps the new cast members of the Real Housewives of New York will breathe some life into this tired franchise.  I want to believe that the new matchmaker will be the polar opposite of Patti Stanger.  I look forward to seeing Jeff Lewis, Jenni and Zoila.  I can take it when Jeff is his OCD self with his ever-changing rules of the game, because I think that these people, deep down, really care about one another.   However, if Bravo suddenly decides that the Jeff Lewis design team should be renovating houses after jumping out of a plane, well, then I guess we’ll abandon all hope and change the channel.

My husband says that I should do recaps of his favorite shows – things like “Swamp People”, “Gold Rush” and “Deadliest Catch”.  He tells me that there are never any arguments about shoes and designer labels.  Sometimes someone punches someone else, but that usually ends the disagreement and everyone goes back to their jobs.  Maybe he’s got a point, after all.



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13 Responses to Dear Bravo, Wake Up!

  1. HWLover says:

    Spot on. Watching the Real housewives use to be fun, something I actually looked forward to viewing. Watching lifestyles of wealthy women in different areas was enjoyable. Slowly over time, I realized there was a very bad taste in my mouth and here’s my sticking point, I have a low tolerance level for bad behavior with seemingly no consequences. Danielle Staub was straight up crazy. We knew it. She paid for her crazy. But Bravo, when you went behind Teresa’s back and hired her family that was openly envious and had shown their propensity for bad behavior, I realized you have the worst behavior of all! You’ve continued and taken that behavior up quite a few notches since. The list is too long but I agree with the Blogger. If you don’t twist your head back the way it should be…you’re facing a mass exodus.

  2. PussyGalore says:

    Yes, I think we’ve been played and I don’t like it. I’d all but stopped watching most regular programming but at this moment I’m watching Law & Order and enjoying it. It’s been an eternity since Mad Men was last on and I’m not sure why. It’s the best thing to happen in television in years so I hope it comes back soon. I’m pretty tired of the housewives. In fact, I haven’t watched any of Atlanta this season and by the end of last season’s OC I was pretty fed up with that crew as well. Time will tell I suppose if I’ll tune in when OC airs up here. Time for bed. I’ll see you in the morning.

  3. sadie says:

    I dunno. Bethenny’s show never interested me, I haven’t watched Top Chef since they went to Texas, I lost interest in RHoA two seasons ago, I got through 20 minutes of this season’s RHoOC premiere before deleting it from my DVR, I haven’t watched Patti Stranger since Season one, I like Rachel Zoe but her show is boring when it focuses on her, not her clients, I’m not interested in Brad, and I am *still* trying to figure out how Bravo let the disaster that is Taylor Armstrong and her arsenal of stretched truth(s) and quasi-certified doctors (including plastic surgeons) hijack the entire franchise and almost ruin it. Tabatha is wonderful, but it’s like that short-lived cat guru show: there are only so many things a salon can do to improve their business, and it’s the same (3) things every show.

    I adore “Revenge,” love “Mad Men,” and have already purchased “Downton Season 2” on DVD

    To your summation of h’wves characters, I like Lisa Vanderpump b/c she knows how to be a professional and create a persona in front of the camera, and stick to it. I like Brandi’s persona b/c she is different, and (somewhere in that clever brain of hers) knows that honesty is the best policy… the camera doesn’t lie. Ever. Unless you’re a professional actress, which none of these gals are. Yuck.

  4. windycitywondering1 says:

    Bethenny made a comment about Bravo rewarding bad behavior and that is the root of the problem with their current program offerings. When I have the time to watch tv, I want to either be entertained or learning something – a very simple concept but one Bravo has moved away from with many of their shows. Millionaire Matchmaker is a horrible show so anything that Bravo puts in it’s place hopefully has to be better! Top Chef used to be interesting but now with the Top Chef Desserts and more stress on location instead of execution, I am losing interest in Bravo’s “foodie offerings. Bravo is floundering and a big part of their problem is they don’t listen to their viewers who have the option of changing the channel and investing their tv time elsewhere.

  5. Designdiva says:

    I’m on the HUBBYS side Empress…. although I dont care for the Swamp people I do enjoy the other shows… New shows start within WEEKS..YEA… I am checking out the MLLIONAIRE DUCK PEOPLE…Looks ridiculous but funny…
    Bravo has quickly been deleted from that section of my brain that reminds which show is on…I simply just dont care….
    THe hugher UPS at Bravo must have deep emotional problems that allows for them to think their type of programming is ENTERTAINING…It’s no longer filling the bill for many….
    And if we think those at 30 Rock really care what we feel… well…don’t hold your breath….

  6. Adgirl says:

    Amen Sista. Top Chef last week infuriated me. Frozen blocks of food? the week before it was Blind-chefs-bluff.
    I understand Bravo wanted to intergrate the Olympics and PeeWee Herman in the show but why coyuldn’t they have the chefs create quick snacks for cyclists in a Pee Wee Herman bike race or nourishment for winter athletes on a cross country ski race?

    Housewives … they are never shown working, volunteering or managing their estates/homes. That would interest me. Dressing up morons in name brands and pouring booze down their thraots while they are isolated from life is getting boring. Mani pedis are ok for a quick convo between friends but I want to see what is really a PITA about being wealthy. Or about pretending they are wealthy.

    Bravo, pull back the curtain. I want to see the little man back there.

    P.S. – Mad Men was delayed because Max Weiner was renogotiating with AMC so production was shut down. We don’t even know what “year” this season starts up in. I think it will be verging on love bead era.

  7. Donna says:

    It’s all about money and advertising, I re-watched Top Chef just to count the commercials and promos while showing (Morton Salt) etc. I could have missed a couple when I was distracted.

    Advertising during commercial breaks, 39
    Promos quick shots during contest, 13
    Top Chef Timer with logo on it, 9
    Judges names with restaurant they own, 6
    39 + 13 + 9 + 6 = 67

    I wonder how that applies during HW shows, mentioning their product lines and gucchi purses, etc.

    Personally it makes me feel like all they want to do is lure me in to pitch their brands, while they laugh all the way to the bank.

    • The dollars thing is not limited to commercial breaks – there have been episodes where Padma has declared things like the “Swanson Chicken Broth” quickfire challenge. Bravo has to know they are losing ratings when they resorting to product placement during actual shows. They have tried HWs franchises in places like Athens, Greece and Dorset, England, with options for France, Spain and Israel among others. The Real Housewives of Athens was cancelled after one season. Does that mean we are slower to be repulsed by Bravo than Europeans are? 🙂
      They have also been bouncing around an idea for “Top Chef Junior”, with chefs between the ages of 13 and 16. Just think, an entire new demographic to exploit.

      • Donna says:

        I find it annoying when they have promos on the bottom of the screen, I depend on closed captions and they write over their promos. I surfed and paused briefly on a Bravo channel, on the bottom right of the screen 5 days to Top Chef Finale Bravo. YUCK! it is the only channel I find that constantly promotes itself.

  8. PussyGalore says:

    Housewives of Vancouver coming up this spring apparently. As it turns out I have sort of a six degrees of separation double whammy with this cast. One of them, Christina Eisenstat is married to David Eisenstat, the owner of Hy’s Encore, a legendary Vancouver steakhouse. In the late sixties I hung with a group of stock broker wheeler dealers and worked for a local stockbroker. Hy and Barbara Eisenstat were a part of the social circle I was in at that time and David is their son. And last September I was making my across the Lion’s Gate Bridge from West Vancouver into Vancouver when I was rear ended and pushed into the back of the Beamer in front of me. When I came to and stopped shaking I walked up to the Beamer to get his insurance info and lo and behold it was David Eisenstat who, by the way, had just gotten his brand new 735 or 755 Beamer two days before that. Vancouver is a very small town and I’ll be surprised if the housewives of Vancouver has any lasting appeal, particularly at this point in time.

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