I have to say, I was an early adopter. I watched the very first episode of the first season on The Real Housewives of Orange County, and have been watching what happens ever since. I was hooked long before we knew there would be a second season, or a NY, or an Atlanta, or even a New Jersey.
These women had me at hello.
As I’ve watched the show expand as a franchise and now as a brand, I have been trying to figure out the appeal, even for me as a fan. I mean it’s so cheesy, it’s embarrassing. The ultimate in guilty pleasure, with tons of guilt.
And then it struck me! The Real Housewives are the new soap opera. As the daytime soap opera slowly dies off, in comes a night time reality show, with just as much drama, that with the help of rotational time slots and on demand, can be viewed any time of the day. Repeatedly.
And if any of us still think that Real Housewives is unscripted, then we don’t understand how tv programming works. Every scene is thought through and then researched to see if it will not only fit within the plot line but also if it will resonate with viewers. To see if there’s enough drama to keep the audience watching.
The drama that unfolds is unreal, yet so real. Exaggerated for the purposes of tv, yet at the same time relateable enough to keep us watching. Tell me that Jill Zarin doesn’t rival Erica Kane? Or that Ramona’s renewal ceremony doesn’t blow away Luke & Laura? Or better yet, that these women don’t remind you of some of your friends?
Ok, I may be getting carried away but you get the point. Murder, espionage, drug dealers? Maybe not, although then there’s Danielle! Certainly enough drama to keep the country riveted, taking the place of daytime soaps that at one point had us captivated as well.
Product placements a plenty, plus the cast members (yes, cast members) are asked to blog and tweet to keep the plot line going even after the show is off air. What P&G did for the soap opera back in the day, Andy Cohen is doing today. He even created a talk show around the housewives called Watch What Happens, featuring all the Bravolebrities (yes, they coined a phrase)!
And by the way, the same sponsors are still there as with the daytime soaps, buying airtime and banner ads to reach what has become a pretty darn big audience.
What’s your experience? Jim.