I’ve been listening to Archetypes with Meghan for twelve long Tuesdays. Nearly every second of the show was boring and condescending and the Duchess couldn’t stop talking about her dear friend Glo(ria) (Steinem). It was the worst part of every week. But just as Meghan threw in the monogrammed towel on season 1, she blasted off a final episode about “guys,” and I was back in. I love guys! And you know which guy I love the most? Andy Cohen, executive producer of the Real Housewives franchises on Bravo and the host of Watch What Happens Live, a Bravo late-night show where Andy mostly discusses Bravo and plays Bravo-centric drinking games.
Meghan sat down with her first guest Andy to discuss how his empire has reinforced stereotypes about women. But first: she lets Andy know she’s met him twice. Once, she met him at a Bravo/USA upfront in Los Angeles right before Suits premiered. Another time, two or three seasons into Suits, they met in New York again. She tried to get booked as a guest on WWHL.
“I just couldn’t get booked, Andy,” she tells him.
WOW! That must have taken some real humility to admit. Throughout these excruciating weeks, I’ve heard Meghan attempt to be self-deprecating, but she isn’t that good of an actor. Without much conviction, she’s talked about being a loser in high school, a pedantic dork, and a frumpy, dumpy Montecito mom “covered in dog hair.” But never has she addressed that she wasn’t all that famous or sought after before her ascent to the Harry of it all.
Andy is audibly uncomfortable with Meghan’s booking follies, and thrillingly, she keeps going. He says that not booking her on WWHL is the “biggest blunder in 13 years of the show.”
“Now I can’t even do my pitch on trying to get you on Watch What Happens Live,” Andy told her. “Because you just owned me completely.”
“It’s great. And now you’re here with me,” she says. Meghan digs one more time, telling him she’s not much of a Bravo fan anymore.
This is when Meghan decides to kick him while he’s down: she’s conflicted about what Andy’s success is based on, because the cast of Real Housewives rely on “caricatures of women.” She reinforces this opinion by referencing what her good friend Glo(ria) (Steinem) said on an episode of WWHL that Andy’s programming was a “minstrel show for women.”
Andy manages to defend himself fairly well. “I think if it was just only about fighting and wine tossing, the show would not have made it 16 years and nine spin-offs because it has to be about more,” Andy says. “There are too many people who actually get something out of this show…the moments that have really resonated with people are [cast members] figuring out Wait a minute…I’m in a bad marriage and I’m gonna empower myself to leave but I’m scared and vulnerable and I don’t feel attractive and I’m over 50 and am I ever going to find a man?”
“The Real Housewives of New York, to me, in a crazy, crazy way is actually one of the most feminist shows on TV,” he says.
I have to side with Andy here. I have never seen women on television like I see on the Housewives. Let me list a few types on Bravo I’ve never seen and shall never see again on television: late-in-life cabaret star dealing with addiction (Luann de Lesseps); Daughter of immigrants cookbook author-cum-bodybuilder who survived a year in prison for her husband’s financial crimes (Teresa Guidice); Former Obama staffer and pageant queen with an emotionally abusive mother re-releasing her album Deep Space with a guest verse from Trina (Candiace Dillard-Bassett). I could go on. I usually do. These are not caricatures. They are more interesting than archetypes, and far more interesting than Archetypes.
Maybe Season 2 of Meghan’s show can just be a Bravo recap podcast.