Reality shows – like scripted shows – have lives. Some shine brightly, then get tired quickly. (See “Jersey Shore,” “The Hills”) Others, with the proper nurturing, seem to go on forever (See “Survivor”).
Bravo’s “The Real Housewives” franchise is no longer the fresh news ladies on the block yet it has been sturdier than many people expected as it enters middle age. “Orange County” is entering its seventh year. “New York” is in its fifth season. And the third and most successful of the lot – “Atlanta” – has announced its season five launch date of November 4 with two new cast members and one out – Sheree Whitfield.
Although the general idea of all these shows remain the same, the ways to keep them fresh is to change out cast members – the reality show equivalent of Botox. “Real Housewives of Atlanta” only has two original players left and they are the two biggest names: Kim Zolciak and NeNe Leakes. Kim had a successful spinoff earlier this year and will spend much of this season pregnant, not as active in the shenanigans as in the past. (In fact, Kim season four was already semi-MIA since she was pregnant then as well.)
As for NeNe, she has carved out an acting career, something very few reality show people have been able to do. “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy saw her one liners on “Celebrity Apprentice” and gave her a shot on “Glee” in a recurring role as a tough swimming coach. She got good feedback and Murphy gave her a role as a sassy assistant on “The New Normal” on NBC. So personally, I was surprised NeNe even bothered to stick around for a fifth season, given her relative contempt of several of the existing cast members. But my guess is the money was too good to pass up.
There are two new ladies in the mix, as previously reported.
Export Kenya Moore, a model from Detroit whose ties to Atlanta are weak. It sounded like Bravo canvassed half of Atlanta and tested out dozens of women. In the end had to go outside the city for one of the cast members. She better be good! [UPDATE: Due to popular demand from the commenters below, it's apparently worthy to note she was Miss USA in 1993 and has had appearances as an actress in shows such as "The Steve Harvey Show," "Living Single" and "Homeboys in Outer Space."]
The other one is Porsha Williams Stewart, yet another lady married to an NFL player, the fourth one of the show. There’s Kim, of course. The other two – Sheree and Lisa Wu Hartwell – are no longer around. I do not know much about her beyond the fact she’s Hosea Williams’ granddaughter.
Bravo had to be concerned after season four. Numbers began to flag toward the end of the season. In fact, it seemed to drag on forever because Bravo aired 21 episodes, the most to date. Ratings, while strong, fell a bit from season three, averaging 2.8 million viewers.
Readers, when polled in April, conveyed a sense of fatigue. A quarter of them graded the season a C (subpar and going down fast), 22 percent dubbed it an F, claiming to be done forever and another quarter graded it a B, aging but still watchable. Only 22 percent gave it an A and said it was still a guilty pleasure. (The other 7 percent answered that they didn’t watch but wanted to tell the world that in the poll.)
What’s worse for the show is over the summer, VH1 stole the “Real Housewives” thunder with “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta,” which actually drew a larger audience than any “Housewives” seasons and was more pleasurable to watch in many ways, probably because it felt new.
So how much juice does this franchise have? Kind of like “Idol,” it has to lose a LOT of steam to be kicked off the air. We’ll see if the producers can rekindle the magic and wring something interesting out of the revised crew.
Bravo’s publicity department wrote up this little promo of the upcoming season. I couldn’t help but have to fix a few grammatical issues, like run-on sentences. I also cringed that the publicist used the term “Hotlanta” but that’s just my bugaboo.
New ventures, sizzling romance, a whole lotta donkey booty, and two new Housewives arrive to turn up the heat in Hotlanta. Season 5 of The Real Housewives of Atlanta follows NeNe as she embarks on a new adventure as a rising star in Hollywood. In the love department, NeNe flirts with the idea of rekindling a romance with her ex, Gregg; meanwhile, new love is in the air for Kandi who has recently found herself a man. Focused on their expanding businesses, Cynthia dabbles into the world of pageants and Phaedra decides to create a fitness video all about achieving that signature “donkey booty.” Our recently married Housewife Kim is also busy expanding her family, but manages to make it out for the ladies’ events — even ones where NeNe is the guest of honor. Will these two ever make up or will she further distance herself from the group in favor of her family and man? New Housewives Kenya and Porsha also join the mix and waste very little time stirring things up among this group of southern ladies.
The series delves into the lives of six sassy women from Atlanta’s social elite. Juggling families, careers, and jam-packed social calendars, the Real Housewives live their triumphs and frustrations out loud. Atlanta continues to be a character in itself as one of the hottest entertainment hubs in America. These driven and ambitious women prove that they’re not just “housewives,” but entrepreneurs, doting mothers, and feisty southern women.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk