Last night on Watch What Happens Live, host Andy Cohen invited Neil Patrick Harris to join him for their postmortem of the show. In this case, they were discussing the first half of the Real Housewives of New York reunion. NPH didn’t seem to have much use for the Housewives (although he did confess to sort of liking Kelly Bensimon), and when asked for suggestions about next season, he replied, “You need to eliminate all of them and start from scratch … Get people who have more to do in their life than create conflict.”
NPH is right – but he’s also wrong.
Real Housewives of New York is dead. It was awesome the first season, but as the show dragged on and the cast changed (most notably, Bethenny Frankel left) it has evolved into bad self-parody. Yet another season of Countess LuAnn lecturing everyone about manners while behaving like a boor? Yawn. Even more footage of Jill Zarin claiming she has changed for the better while continuing to behave exactly the same way? Forget it. The addition of Cindy Barshop was promising, since she was a successful businesswoman with her own company, but she was mostly a nonentity this season. It seems clear that the only way to salvage the show is to burn the house down and build a new one on the foundation. Real Housewives of New York is now a reality show about some ladies who have a reality show, and it’s boring to watch. Gone are the moments that made the earlier episodes so interesting – sure, there was conflict, but there were also moments where Bethenny and Jill bonded or where Ramona and Mario showed the sweet side of their marriage. This group has officially done all they can do on camera, and it’s time to cut them loose. At this point, most of them are just on the show to promote whatever book/wine/cookbook/shapewear/single they’re currently trying to shill, and if I wanted an infomercial there are other channels I could choose for that.
That said, NPH was wrong on one point. This show is about nothing if it’s not about conflict. I agree that the proportion of drama to everything else had tipped way too far in the drama direction, but this show is centered around drama and has made its brand on it. I would much rather watch Real Housewives of New Jersey‘s Teresa Giudice flip a table than watch her get a manicure or go shopping. I agree that the New York ladies were all about the drama to the point where every single conversation was just a rehash of a previous unresolved fight, but there has to be some kind of conflict on the show or this would turn into a coffee klatsch. A really boring, shallow coffee klatsch. There is a way to balance drama and actual interesting stuff, but I don’t think this cast is going to be the one to make the change.