News & Politics

Whither the Real Housewives?

Bravo’s been slow to renew The Real Housewives of D.C., but that doesn’t mean the show is dead

It’s been seven weeks since we last saw Washington’s Real Housewives—posed on couches for their “reunion show,” the tension ratcheted up to a level that anywhere else would mean wig-tugging and table-flipping. The question is: Are they coming back? Will we get to see newly single Cat Ommaney on the prowl on 14th Street? Will Michaele Salahi have a revelation, dump Tareq, and become a full-time advocate for multiple-sclerosis research, redeeming the term “girl lobbyist” in the process? Whatever is happening to the spinoff focused on Paul Wharton and his hair?

As for the network’s response, Bravo spokeswoman Rachelle Savoia says, “We don’t have a time frame on a decision just yet.” Rich Amons—wearer of Pucci, father of closet-raider Lolly, and general voice of reason—says he hasn’t heard a thing about whether the show is coming back. But that uncertainty doesn’t necessarily mean Bravo is pulling up stakes on the Potomac and heading for ritzier, more scandalous climes.

The Real Housewives of New York City is the only series in the franchise Bravo renewed for a second season while the first one was airing—the deal was inked a month and a half before the season finished. The wait wasn’t long for The Real Housewives of Atlanta, either: Bravo agreed to bring the show back for a second season less than three weeks after the first ended. Those shows had immediate breakout stars, though. In New York, Bethanny Frankel proved so popular that Bravo has essentially let her walk from Housewives and is on a second season of a spinoff focused on her married life. And in Atlanta, Nene Leakes is perhaps the funniest reality-show participant ever to step into a confessional.

In other cities, the network’s been more cautious. It took more than two months for Bravo to announce that it would produce a second season of The Real Housewives of Orange County, the show that started it all, after the first season ended. It took nearly three months for the network to confirm that it was bringing back The Real Housewives of New Jersey after the first season was over. But the network has never canceled one of the franchise’s series.

It just might take a while for Bravo to reach an agreement everyone can live with to do a second season of the Washington show. Like Danielle Staub, the provocative and aggressive New Jersey cast member who appears to have been fired by the network after the show’s second season, the Salahis may be a sticking point for the other Washington families. There’s no question that the couple’s White House misadventures were the biggest scandal of the first season. But the fun wears thin when you’re watching persistent self-delusion onscreen, and judging from the limited number of scenes the Salahis shared with their fellow cast members, it’s got to be miserable to work with the people who cling to those delusions. What’s more, it’s not clear to me that Cat Ommanney wants to return the show, after the way the network edited her and the role that appears to have played in her marriage’s dissolution.

So the key for Bravo may be finding a different straw—or straws—to stir the drink. If they can replace the Salahis with a couple who create drama while leavening the sour taste of the first season, I’d expect to see more Real Housewives of Washington, D.C.

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