Will the Reality TV Reckoning Hurt Bravo?

Andy Cohen
(Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

As of late, Bethenny Frankel has rained hell stone and embers down onto Bravo. The same network that, for all intents and purposes, afforded her big break. For a while, the Real Housewives of New York City alum has been openly talking about the “Reality TV reckoning,” and she recently had some enlistments to her cause with support from Leah McSweeney

Bethenny used to be beloved by fans, but now many see her as a nuisance. She chose to leave the series of her own free will. Now she’s come back with vengeance to right the wrongs that she felt had inundated the network for years. 

Can There Be Actual Change?


Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Bethenny, or anyone for that matter, who wants to make a change within their industry. Arguably, the way the Skinnygirl founder has gone about her argument is questionable since she is biting the hand that spoon-fed her. Bethenny has brought up some decent points, including favoritism, abuse of alcohol, and fostering a toxic workplace. 

Bravo has been made into one of the biggest networks thanks to being under the umbrella of NBC. The network, which was founded in 1980, first started to air programs dedicated to the performing arts, which included ballet and opera. NBC acquired Bravo in 2002 and, by 2003, was churning out reality TV shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Top Chef, and Real Housewives. It became clear that Bravo started to steer towards what was going to make their money, and that was drama. 

Viewers Have To Want Better


The idea of forming a union is all well and good, but the Bravo viewers have to want to watch better TV. I’ll be honest—I am in deep with almost every Bravo show. Now, I don’t always like the male chauvinists on Southern Charm or the cheating scandals of Vanderpump Rules, but I can’t lie I am highly invested in most of the programs. 

Currently, I can’t see the reality TV reckoning hurting Bravo. They are Goliath, and no matter how much Bethenny doesn’t want to admit it, she is David. Just this last month, 160 Bravolebrities attended BravoCon 2023, with The Wrap reporting that 25,000 fans have attended. Now, I believe it would be extremely hard to convince more than 25K viewers to jump ship. Bravo is one, if not the only, network that offers shows of this dramatic caliber. I just don’t see them losing viewership. 

You Attract Bees With Honey, Not Vinegar

Bethenny Frankel/Instagram

I believe that Bethenny has valid points. Does Bravo encourage excessive amounts of drinking in their shows—most likely? Does Andy Cohen have clear favorites—absolutely. And was the work environment toxic—probably? Bethenny isn’t the only star to have offered examples. Stassi Schroeder also revealed to Us Weekly that producers covered up for the male cast when they did “dark things”. 

Bethenny came out swinging with her brash attitude. She immediately ruffled feathers and didn’t gain a lot of allies. However, if she came in below the radar, I believe she would have had a better response from her audience. When Bethenny first started mumbling about bringing up workplace violations, it looked like might have been a legal tactic to get the network to give in to a union.

The Bravo Network Is Unstoppable


That plan could have worked if the network decided to play ball. However, how could anyone forget that NBC Universal is a media conglomerate with an army of lawyers, endless footage, excessive contracts, and unimaginable dirty secrets that could keep any former housewife down in the trenches? The amount of time and energy that Bravo could easily put into clogging the system isn’t even funny. 

Bravo’s talent is not considered the working class. Most came into the franchises with their own money or business. The people Bethenny is fighting are a small amount who can’t be compared to Hollywood stars or members of SAG or WGA. Sadly, no matter how hard Bethenny pushes, I just don’t see Bravo being devastated by the reality TV reckoning.