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'Real Housewives of DC': Fat lady has not yet sung


The cast of the Bravo Network's reality series 'Real Housewives of DC.' (Reuters/Bravo)

No matter how many times you click your little heels together and make a wish, you may not wake up Friday morning after watching Bravo's "Real Housewives of DC" finale and discover it was all a bad Technicolor dream that, happily, is over.

Because all that blah, blah, blah you've been reading about the show's lousy ratings? Just wishful thinking on the part of The Reporters Who Cover TV.

In fact, the Washington iteration has been, since its unveiling on Aug. 5, the second most watched "Housewives" debut season in the franchise's history. With an average of 1.58.million viewers, it's trending behind only "Real Housewives of New Jersey" which attracted a record 2.55 million viewers its first season, in 2009.

"RHDC" hasn't completely wrapped its first season: Bravo's about to announce a two-hour-over-two-night "Real Housewives of DC" reunion show, in which, we hear, all the non-Michaele-Salahi housewives kick up a storm in re how the Salahis and That Visit to That White House State Dinner completely derailed their lovely little reality-TV series.

The show's mom-of-five/biometric lock user/Arthur Godfrey granddaughter Mary Amons, modeling agency matron Lynda Erkiletian, real estate agent Stacie Turner, and self-edit-gene-lacking British designer Catherine Ommanney -- they're apparently hoppin' mad.

But they're not wig tearing, table-flipping mad -- which has, from the start, been one of the problems with this iteration of the Bravo network ratings magnet.

"Real Housewives of DC" is, quite simply, too quiet.

Too dignified.

Too Washington, in a word.

"We knew this was going to be different from the others," says Andy Cohen Bravo SVP Original Programming and Development.

"It's less noisy."

Some of the other "Real Housewives" editions enjoy the advantage of being set "in the center of the media world," Cohen notes. "Those women are going to parties every night that 'ET' and 'Extra' and 'Access Hollywood' are covering. Those feed into a kind of noise machine that D.C. doesn't have."

Washington is a media town, he acknowledges, but it's a different, more beige kinda media.

"It's serious, it's politics," he admits. "For people who expect to see table flipping or wig pulling -- that was never going to happen on this show."

That said, Cohen acknowledges "RHDC" is not the "quietest" of the franchise.

"I've always said of 'OC' that's probably our quietest, in terms of the drama -- to me that's the 'Knots Landing' of the franchise -- their hair is blonder, their boobs are bigger, and they probably drink a little more than a lot of our other housewives."

That would make "RHDC" the "Falcon Crest" of the franchise, Cohen continues on his theme: "the quieter sibling with a mix of politics, Beltway 'tudes and rules -- and, of course, a -- albeit less successful -- winery," he notes.

"RHDC" is also the oldest skewing of the "Real Housewives" shows because younger viewers really don't want to hear about Washington, as MTV learned the hard way with its "Real World DC" experiment.

The median age of the "RHDC" viewer is about 40 years -- 39.9 years, to be exact. That means half the audience is older than 40. This is not what a network targeting 18-to-49-year-olds wants to see, because people who watch a show tend to only get older as the years pass what with having birthdays and all.

What Bravo wants to see is "Real Housewives" with a median age of 34 years -- like the first season of "Real Housewives of Atlanta."

May be even more disturbing -- if you get disturbed at thought of yet another D.C.-set reality series going toes up ("RHDC," meet "Real World DC") -- our contribution to the "Real Housewives" pantheon did not grow a larger audience in the course of the first season, as had all the other versions. "RHDC" opened with 1.628 million people tuned in and, as of last week, 1.18 million were still hanging around.

That was to be expected, Cohen insists, given all the pre-debut hype about Michaele and Tareq Salahi and That Visit To That White House State Dinner.

"We never had a 'Housewives' series be as noisy in the month leading up to its premiere," he says.

"It would have been impossible to maintain the cacophony of what was going on in the pre-launch of this show."

You know what could really kill "Real Housewives of DC's" chances of a second season?

A super-gimongous launch for the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" on Thursday, Oct. 14. Maybe if this one opens with the biggest "Housewives" audience yet, Bravo will pull a Brad Pitt and dump "DC" for the hotter number.

With "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," Bravo is heading back to familiar territory: blonde, booby, over-the-top, and super-superficial. This newest entry has the most promising cast yet, having been populated with recognizable names that are sure to attract viewers, including, among others, Kelsey Grammer's soon-to-be-ex Camille Grammer, and not one but two Paris Hilton aunts: Kim and Kyle Richards.

So, now, please click your heels together, and repeat after me:

There's no place like Beverly Hills. There's no place like Beverly Hills....

Q&A, 1 p.m., Friday: Lisa discusses the show, TV

Q&A, 12 p.m., Friday: Stacie Turner on the finale

Full coverage: 'Real Housewives of D.C.'

By Lisa de Moraes  | October 7, 2010; 5:57 PM ET
Categories:  Local TV  
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Agree re. ratings and Cohen is right. All of the HW franchises are uniquely successful as they are crafted locally and are elevated to global brands. RHDC should come back for a second season. So much to beige to enjoy.

Posted by: serrona | October 7, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

We can only hope it's over.

After all, what can one do to top crashing a White House State Dinner?

It's all downhill after that.

Or maybe before that.

Posted by: Benson | October 7, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Dear God, please make it stop.

Posted by: arancia12 | October 7, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

The Salahis are the only thing going on this one. Revamp the cast and keep the Salahis for one more season.

Posted by: Weave160 | October 7, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

More dumbing down of America.
And folks are surprised Americans are so low on the knowledge scale compared to other industrialized countries.

Posted by: angie12106 | October 7, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I want to be on a reality series; I think I'll do something that is considered a national security risk.

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | October 7, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I want to be on a reality series; I think I'll do something that is considered a national security risk.

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | October 7, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: 1561705755 | October 7, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

The heading suggests it may be close to over then the article says the ratings are high. Why the misleading headline?

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | October 7, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Oohh ooooh ooooh I haven't had a chance to see it yet. I would have last time but I had to trim my toenails! Please please don't cancel. Just don't show it when I have to do things more important.

Posted by: kls1 | October 7, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I've watched all of the HW shows. NJ is a spoof on Italian-Americans, the OC housewives are also a send-up. The DC show is filled with people who really, are larger in their own imaginations (save Stacie) than anywhere else. A modeling DC? That's a mover and shaker?
The problem is, most seriously interesting people in DC would never, ever do this show. They simply can't.

Posted by: readerny | October 7, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

I hope there's a special room in hell for everyone associated with any and all of the 'real housewives' tabloid and trash shows. A pox on them all. Die. Die. Die.

Posted by: 809212876 | October 7, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

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