Andy Cohen defends The Real Housewives: A ‘feminist tableau’

Andy Cohen close up
Andy Cohen defended the Real Housewives franchises as “groundbreaking” for women. Pic credit: © Fotos/AdMedia

In 2006, when The Real Housewives of Orange County first premiered on Bravo, Andy Cohen was just a little-known network executive and a “huge All My Children fan.”

In the almost two decades since then, the network has launched Real Housewives franchises in ten more cities, propelling hundreds of housewives to reality TV stardom.

Cohen himself has also become synonymous with the Real Housewives franchises, and, as The New Yorker recently put it, with “the rise of American reality television.”

As well as serving as an executive producer on all of Bravo’s Housewives shows, Cohen also hosts the dramatic multiple-episode-spanning cast reunions at the end of each season.

As the public face of the network, Cohen has also been the target of critics who call the Housewives shows exploitative.

But, speaking with The New Yorker earlier this week, Cohen defended the Real Housewives franchise as “groundbreaking” and a “great feminist tableau.”

Andy Cohen says lives have been ‘ruined’ by The Real Housewives

In an interview with The New Yorker, Cohen opened up about the past decade and a half of The Real Housewives, which he described as a “reality soap opera.”

“Almost everything that you could imagine has now happened on this show,” he told the magazine, from “federal agents arresting someone,” which happened with RHOSLC’s Jen Shah – to infidelity and divorce.

The shows have even captured moments of real-life tragedy, such as when The Real Housewives of Orange County’s Vicki Gunvalson collapsed to the floor of her kitchen after learning that her mom had died.  

“Truly monumental things have been captured,” Cohen said.

Cohen admitted that past Housewives stars have even told him the series “ruined [their] life.”

Andy Cohen defends ‘feminist’ Real Housewives

Speaking with the magazine, Cohen also defended the Housewives franchises against accusations of being un-feminist.

Calling the series groundbreaking, Cohen argued that the Real Housewives has opened up the world of reality TV to a new demographic: women over fifty.

Cohen said the series has provided a “platform” for older women to “[express] their sexuality and who they are” in a raw, unfiltered way.

“I view it as a great feminist tableau,” Cohen said of The Real Housewives, referencing feminist writers such as critic Roxane Gay, who once appeared on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live to defend the franchises.  

And although another famous feminist, Gloria Steinem, once called the Real Housewives “the worst,” Cohen told the magazine, “I think Gloria Steinem doesn’t watch the show.”

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