There is this sentence it is often associated with Andy Cohen: ringmaster. The leader of Bravo’s circus. The person who provides some semblance of order, and, more importantly, containment, to this wild world of screaming housewives, debauched bartenders, and other assorted Bravolebrities. What is the circus if not its little world inside a big tent?
This year, however, marked the year that Bravo Circus broke free from its tent. It has become common.
For a very long time, there have been people like me: Bravo fans who are well-versed in the storylines, the small fights, the outright hates, and the season-long character arcs. Tradition, if you will.
In some ways, the Bravo fandom was a lot like the Marvel fandom: a deep-rooted tradition, a devoted following, and its own universe of characters and stars. Yet Marvel is the closest thing to monoculture. It is inevitable. Bravo inspired intense fan fervor, but the fandom was relatively siloed. That is, until 2023, a little thing called Scandoval has rocked the Internet.
You probably didn’t miss it, but in case you did, I already have explained the whole saga for Mashable in March :
‘Put simply: A reality TV star from the Bravo show’Vanderpump Rules,’ Tom Sandoval allegedly cheated on his longtime girlfriend, Ariana Madix, who is also on the show, with yet another Vander Pump star, Raquel Leviss, who is the ex-fiancée of his compatriot Pump star, James Kennedy.”
Those were the broad strokes… a reality TV star… cheating on… with another reality TV star. Knock me down with a feather, right?
But this Just arrived be the moment Bravo broke lockdown. The internet has, slowly but surely, transformed Bravolebrities into normal, albeit somewhat C-list, celebrities. Stars of Housewives franchises – Cohen’s brainchild conceived with a team of creatives – have long haunted the digital pages of TMZ, Page six, Peopleand other similar outlets. Housewives and the many spinoffs and other franchises — Vanderpump, southern charm, summer house, under the bridge — have spawned other stars that rake branded offers And money for shilling stuff on Instagram. Anyway, Bravo used to be a cable TV channel, but it’s now inhabited by a legion of influencers and personalities.
Even if you’re not interested in Bravo, its stars are everywhere. Before Scandoval, we had current affairs documentaries on not one but two separated housewives and their legal problems. Things were already gaining momentum. ABC News didn’t make a rushed documentary about the incarceration of New Jersey housewife Teresa Giudice in 2015. Now, they’re jumping at the chance.
When Scandoval broke out, it was a holy shit moment for Bravo fans. But somehow, nothing anymore holy shit than many other Bravo scandals over the years – I mean, hell, I’d need a book-length word count to detail the many indiscretions and lies of Vander Pump his comrade Jax Taylor alone. Very soon there was a detailed analysis of Scandoval. in the prestigious pages of The New York Times. Respected journalist Anderson Cooper, Cohen’s longtime best friend, was obliged to remedy it on CNN. Even the generally asked NPR had to talk about it in a 27 minute segment.
Madix was on Dancing with the starsand soon she will star in Chicago on Broadway. Sandoval was on The Masked Singer. Madix was at the fucking White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where host Roy Wood made a joke about the scandal. A reality TV joke about something affectionately dubbed Prom ball. President was here.
This is about as common as it gets.
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I would say the Bravo fandom was growing in that direction. In this age of loving influencers, it was only a matter of time. All that was missing was a spark from the powder magazine, and too bad if the Scandoval wasn’t a fire starter. It was the perfect scandal for 2023: it unfolded in the public eye, as the season airs, and even required emergency filming. This was new in that the people involved were life partners we had been watching for years, no new reality stars messing around and cheating.
Even if you didn’t know the story, the very fact that Vander Pump himself was born from a cheating scandal on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, for example – you, like almost everyone else, now had a vague idea that these people existed. This would have been difficult for me to imagine five years ago.
The Bravo fandom has long had an obsessive aspect. True fans know the tangled web of crossovers between Southern Charm, Winter house, under the bridge, summer house, And various housewives franchise. Fans can quote Bravo on command: “I’ll tell you how I’m doing…not good, bitch!” or “It’s turtle time.” They know the different criminal records of current and former stars.
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The Bravo fandom was a bit like my favorite band The Hold Steady – either they’re your favorite band, or you have no idea they exist. Well done fans manifested their own version of a celebrity, a local Bravolebrity, who could live completely anonymously. Now there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle. The platform has outgrown this fandom. This year, Bravocon grew so big it left a New York convention center for the splendor of Vegas. That’s because it’s no longer a fan convention. This is a news-creating event and a meeting with influencers.
There’s no turning back for Bravo. Even if you don’t log in, there’s a good chance you’ll see the stars on TikTok, or in the pages of Peopleor even on CNN. Vander PumpIt is Scandoval was the last thing that made everyone notice that Bravo had gone mainstream, but it was already moving in that direction.
It’s not all entirely good for Bravo and Cohen, his ringmaster. Remember those documents about alleged Housewives crimes? Or how things that once might have been minor new stories, like a recent drunk driving arrest for a housewife, are now making headlines? And there is also an apparent “account” on the part of Current and former Bravo stars who are angry at the way they were treated. Generalization means even bigger problems.
A plot point during the current airing season of From South Charm, for example, involves People report Actor Austin Kroll met fellow actor Taylor Ann Green, who is the ex of, you guessed it, actor Shep Rose. This article was published while the cast was filming the season, meaning the show wasn’t just summarized, her gossip news was announced well before the season even aired.
So sure, maybe the Bravo fandom is still kind of a quirky carnival. But we will need a bigger tent.