Opinion: Has Reality Ruined ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’?

by | September 5, 2011 at 10:28 AM | The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Russell and Taylor Armstrong (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)

Russell and Taylor Armstrong (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)

There’s been enough finger-pointing surrounding Russell Armstrong’s suicide and consequently, enough hoopla over Bravo’s decision to air tonight’s season premiere of the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” (9/8c) to give us a static migraine.

Some critics argue that proceeding with the season is in bad taste altogether, while others hang in ethical limbo, eagerly waiting to see how the network handles the narrative of Taylor and Russell’s marital woes while simultaneously trying to cut out the haunting presence of the latter.

Bravo Will Air Re-Edited “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” Premiere

But while Russell’s tragic death will surely help ratings soar this season, it has, at the same time, obliterated the intoxicating fantasy that made the “RHoBH” such a stand-out among the franchise.

Good or bad, lost is our carefree pleasure of watching the ladies click around in their Louboutins within their echoey mansions, party-hop from one VIP event to another, and fly off to luxury destinations on private jets—all the while dripping in diamonds and tittle-tattling about some other castmate’s Dynasty-like drama.

We even managed to swallow some of the more unfortunate events dished out to us by the show—namely, the dissolution of Camille Grammer’s marriage to Kelsey Grammer, and Kim and Kyle Richards’ sisterly feud that inevitably revealed the elder’s alleged alcohol abuse.

But now with Russell’s death, the party is over, and it’s as if we’ve been shaken out of an amusing and expensive dream we didn’t want to wake from.

So is it wrong to want the original fantasy back? I personally don’t think so. But I also think that if you’re hoping to glean enjoyment from Season 2 in the same way you did Season 1, your conscience won’t let you—even if newbie Brandi Glanville raises cat-clawing hell.

The way I see it, the only way Bravo will be able to move on and get its franchise hit back to opulent escapism status is to take Taylor off the show for good.

Considering the circumstances, I’d see her exit as a respectable course of action—not only for the benefit of the show but also for her own reputation and the privacy I’d assume she’d want for her daughter.

Besides, are any fans really going to feel a major loss if she moved on? Unlikely. As good-intentioned as she is, Taylor (sans Russell drama) lacks the charisma and the engrossing emotional exhibitionism of her counterparts, like Kyle and even Camille. Conspicuous social climbing aside, put into account the reports earlier this year that accused the 40-year-old of providing false information about her identity, and she just doesn’t bode well in the endearment arena.

The “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” isn’t a show designed to mourn or deal with something as real and painful as suicide. If editing out Russell’s presence from the show is one way Bravo’s trying to preserve its superficial integrity, then it might as well clean house and let go of Taylor. Her ongoing presence would just make things too real for this reality show.

The “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” airs tonight on Bravo at 9/8c.

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