Like it, loathe it, or perhaps you are yet to hear of it but The Real Housewives docusoap reality series created by Bravo TV has become a franchise in its own rights. What started as a “one and done” season focusing on Orange County took off with huge popularity and 6 years on the show has now followed women in New York, New Jersey, Beverly Hills, Atlanta, Miami and Vancouver. The series follows affluent housewives and professional women in America and their luxurious lifestyle and social circles.
Figures estimate the franchise is worth a jaw-dropping half a billion dollars, so what was it that made the shows so popular? Primarily, with it being a reality series, the drama itself is often the main character of the show. It follows them everywhere, and situations which demand classiness often turn into a bitter slanging match between two or more ladies. The divide between Vicki and Tamra against the other women in Orange County set the bar for the other seasons to follow. Let’s not forget that the focal point of the show is to follow attractive wealthy people and to provide insight into how they live. For the rest of the world it’s a case of seeing how the other side live. Life sure does seem exciting when you’ve got money to flash. It’s a personality driven show, and with characters as strong as Vicki Gunvalson’s (OC) and Jill Zarin (NY) it makes for explosive situations. The cast have been described as “combustible characters” which fuel drama and addictive viewing.
The success of the franchise lies not only in the shows themselves but the products that have launched off the back of the shows. Book deals, recording contracts, wine ranges and jewellery lines are to name but some of the products that have been released. Social media has also played an important role in the success of the franchise. People are riveted by their on-screen and off-screen lives and viewers can follow them on Twitter, in magazine interviews and on personal website pages.
Real Housewives shook the reality world up in America and proved just how successful a one-hit-wonder idea can evolve into something worth serious money.