When information broke this month that Vanderpump Guidelines stars Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss have been embroiled in a months-long affair — utterly upending the present about fame-hungry former restaurant employees with a present for drama — Bravo’s cameras jumped to seize the motion. However don’t fear, Bravo followers: You received’t have to attend lengthy to seek out out what the solid actually take into consideration “Scandoval,” as a result of they’ve already began spilling further particulars.
The place? On their podcasts, after all. Former solid members Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute dropped new episodes of Straight Up with Stassi and Intercourse, Love, and What Else Issues, whereas Scheana Shay welcomed her co-star Lala Kent and Doute onto her podcast Scheananigans. During the last decade, Bravo recap and evaluation podcasts like All the things Iconic, Watch What Crappens, Actual Mothers of Bravo, Point out It All, and Andy’s Women have turned a significant a part of fandom, and plenty of of them even recorded “emergency” episodes within the wake of the Sandoval-Leviss information.
However extra just lately, Bravo stars and alumni have been getting in on the motion themselves, to each form their public picture and make good cash (by paid subscribers, advertisers, or offers with firms like iHeart). There are podcasts hosted by personalities from Beneath Deck, Summer time Home, and, most plentiful of all, The Actual Housewives franchise. From feuding New Jersey sisters-in-law Melissa Gorga and Teresa Giudice’s respective podcasts On Show and Namaste B$tches, to Salt Lake Metropolis’s Wild Rose with Whitney Rose and Potomac’s Moderately Shady, hosted by “green-eyed bandits” Robyn Dixon and Gizelle Bryant, it appears like most Housewives reveals have no less than one present solid member who’s a podcaster. And since the hosts typically interview their co-stars or seem on one another’s podcasts, they create an infinite cycle of content material.
“Being on a actuality present, we are able to movie for 30 hours however solely 20 minutes make the minimize,” says Orange County’s Heather Dubrow, one of many longest-tenured Actual Housewives podcasters. “You’ll be able to’t probably present every part, so I needed a much less edited model of myself to have the ability to join with the viewers on a distinct degree.”
Teddi Mellencamp, who starred on Actual Housewives of Beverly Hills for 3 seasons, and Orange County’s Tamra Decide (who left the present in 2020 and returned for its upcoming season), co-host Two Ts in a Pod, which is persistently on the high of the Apple podcast charts and stories over a million month-to-month downloads. Mellencamp says individuals are all the time telling her how a lot better she comes throughout on the podcast in comparison with her Housewives stint, and he or she says she makes more cash from podcasting than she did from her Bravo wage. (Brian Moylan, creator of The Housewives: The Actual Story Behind The Actual Housewives, estimates that her Bravo wage was within the area of $300,000 on the time of her departure; reps for Mellencamp didn’t remark.) “After we first began the podcast, we have been each two fired Housewives. We had no ties to something and there have been no guidelines for us to comply with,” Mellencamp says. “Individuals sort of needed to hate it, however then they have been like, ‘Dang, they’re good! They’re humorous, they’re messy.’”
Most of those Bravo-adjacent podcasts talk about popular culture or life-style subjects, like motherhood and wellness. However as these reveals have boomed in recognition, a number of have gone from unpacking the most recent drama to changing into a part of it — elevating new questions on how actuality stars ought to share (and monetize) their lives, and whether or not it’s attainable for these podcasts and Bravo’s actuality reveals to coexist with out one detracting from the opposite.
Earlier than there have been podcasts, Instagram accounts like @queensofbravo, and glitzy conventions filling out the prolonged Bravo universe, there have been “Bravo Blogs.” Every week, Housewives would watch an advance screener of a brand new episode and supply further reflections and particulars on the drama. When casts reunited for multi-episode reunions, Bravo Blogs have been a daily supply of battle, with ‘wives taking difficulty with what their co-stars had written about them.
Social media quickly made these blogs really feel prehistoric. Sensing this shift, Bravo launched after-shows and beefed up solid appearances on the Andy Cohen-hosted Watch What Occurs Reside, which primarily served the identical perform: giving house for actuality stars to touch upon interpersonal beef, thus creating extra beef to be commented upon at a later time.
“The wild west days of ‘Let’s simply do a podcast and who cares what we are saying on it!’ are over. There’s an excessive amount of cash to be made and an excessive amount of potential for expertise to go rogue.”
Housewives nonetheless supply their two cents on Twitter or Instagram, however the podcast increase allowed them to take action in a format that extra carefully resembles their TV work. Actual Housewives of Beverly Hills star Brandi Glanville kickstarted the pattern in 2013 with Brandi Glanville Unfiltered, although her future with the community is unsure following allegations of misconduct whereas filming an upcoming season of The Actual Housewives Final Women Journey. (Glanville has denied any wrongdoing.) “Credit score the place credit score is due, Brandi was the primary particular person to comply with do a podcast and take a enterprise threat on doing it for income,” says Dana Wilkey, a former visitor star on RHOBH (and well-known one-time proprietor of $25,000 sun shades) who launched the podcast Dishing Drama in 2020. “So she deserves that credit score. Regardless of how a lot I am unable to stand her, kudos to her.”
Podcasts have an immediacy that tv doesn’t, and there’s an added degree of intimacy that comes from actuality stars interviewing one another. “Girls who’ve been on the present know the way the sport works,” Moylan says. “They know the producers, they know the behind-the-scenes folks. They will have a degree of understanding and entry that somebody like myself, regardless of years of analysis, won’t ever have.”
Bravo’s reveals are typically self-contained worlds — Housewives have typically prevented referencing reunions by identify, in order to not burst the bubble of filming — however social media and podcasts finally proved inconceivable to include. In 2021, when Actual Housewives of New York Metropolis alum Heather Thomson returned for a visitor look in Season 13, she was blindsided when some solid members introduced up accusations she had made about them on her podcast — one thing that probably would have been off limits throughout her authentic stint on the present. “Heather’s coming in as a punching bag,” costar Leah McSweeney mentioned on the present. “She doesn’t even know what she’s about to stroll into.”
To know the present falling out between RHONJ’s Teresa Giudice, her brother, Joe Gorga, and his spouse, Melissa Gorga, their podcasts have virtually develop into necessary listening. This season, Melissa was slammed for saying on On Show that she had supported her nieces throughout Giudice’s time in jail by taking part within the spin-off particular Teresa Checks In. (“If something, we put meals on their desk,” Giudice just lately fired again to Entry Hollywood.) And when the Gorgas determined to not attend Giudice’s wedding ceremony final summer time, which was filmed for the present season, they addressed it — the place else — on Melissa’s podcast.
In the meantime, the present season of Vanderpump Guidelines has taken podcast drama to an entire different degree. On an episode of Scheananigans filmed for the present, Shay inspired costar Tom Schwartz to make out with a newly single Leviss, which he promptly did, incomes the fury of his ex-wife and costar, Katie Maloney. Now, within the wake of the Leviss’ affair with the different Tom, followers have theorized that the podcast-inspired hookup was truly a false flag meant to distract from the key relationship. It is an entire season’s value of battle and intrigue — and all it took was a podcast.
It was solely a matter of time earlier than tensions emerged between Bravo’s primetime programming and its stars’ podcast side-hustles.
Earlier this 12 months, Actual Housewives of Potomac star Robyn Dixon revealed that her husband, Juan, had an inappropriate relationship with one other girl through the pandemic. For Robyn, who had denied rumors of Juan’s infidelity through the present’s most up-to-date season, this was massive information.
Besides Dixon didn’t reveal this on the present. As a substitute, after Potomac had wrapped filming, Dixon shared the small print on an episode of Moderately Shady paywalled by Patreon. The choice to withhold a significant private occasion throughout filming — and to cost cash for the total story later — infuriated a few of Dixon’s co-stars, who felt that she had shirked her duties. Reunion host and govt producer Andy Cohen appeared visibly sad about it when he interviewed Dixon on Watch What Occurs Reside.
Wilkey thinks Dixon’s choice goes to the core of why actuality stars need to host their very own podcasts: “She needed that energy to manage the narrative.” Moylan agrees. “Narrative is actually necessary to those ladies,” he says. “She was like, ‘I am not gonna discuss this on the present, the place Bravo can edit it any means they need and my co-stars will all chime in. As a substitute, I can go on my podcast and inform the story the way in which I need to.’”
“Bravo doesn’t care when its stars are trash-talking one another. However they get upset when their expertise begins speaking about manufacturing and the methods issues could or might not be manipulated.”
Dixon isn’t the one one benefiting from a paywall. Shay provided Patreon subscribers early entry to Scheananigans’ deep dive into the Vanderpump dishonest scandal, although she was reacting to the information, not unveiling a withheld storyline, and he or she’s presumably totally taking part in filming. “Robyn took it so much farther than anyone had thus far,” says Moylan, who calls the Potomac controversy a “watershed” second for Bravolebrity podcasts.
Bravo seems to be setting phrases, the place they’ll, for Housewives who podcast. Now that Mellencamp’s co-host, Decide, is returning to RHOC, Decide says she will not be allowed to recap the present on Two Ts, although others — like Decide’s co-star Dubrow, Guidice, Gorga, Dixon, and Bryant — all talk about their respective reveals on their podcasts. (In response to a community supply, all Bravo expertise have the identical necessities on the subject of podcasts.) “When Tamra went again on the present, that was the deal that all of us made, as a result of we did not need to lose the entire thing,” Mellencamp says. “However that was additionally earlier than there was this resurgence of podcasts the place Housewives are all speaking about their present reveals.” Nonetheless, the podcast and Bravo have a great relationship — Two Ts’ episodes from BravoCon are among the many present’s most downloaded ever — and Mellencamp provides, “Bravo trusts me to know that, in the event that they requested me to do one thing, I’m going to comply with their guidelines.”
Moylan thinks that Bravo’s guidelines for Decide sign that the community is getting sensible to what’s taking place in these areas. “Bravo doesn’t care in any respect when its stars are trash-talking one another, however after they get upset is when their expertise begins speaking about manufacturing and the ways in which issues could or might not be manipulated,” he says. “I’ve a sense that the wild west days of ‘Let’s simply do a podcast and who cares what we are saying on it!’ are over. There’s an excessive amount of cash to be made and an excessive amount of potential for expertise to go rogue.”
One resolution for Bravo: Launching its personal official podcasts, as different reality-TV universes like The Bachelor and the U.Okay.’s Love Island have performed. “Bravo is all the time the final one to determine these things out,” Moylan says. “It is so humorous to me that they weren’t like, ‘Hey, Teddi and Tamra, why do not you make this podcast for us?’”
Wilkey thinks Bravo will attempt to formally cease its solid from withholding private particulars for monetary achieve on paid platforms. “I do assume what occurred with Robyn Dixon will translate to contract modifications,” she says. After former Actual Housewives of New York star Bethenny Frankel (who’s additionally within the Housewives podcasting sport) bought the cocktail arm of her Skinnygirl model for a reported $100 million, the community reportedly added what followers name the “Bethenny Clause” to contracts, stipulating that if one of many Housewives sells a enterprise they’ve promoted on the present for greater than $1 million, they’ll take a minimize. (A spokesperson says Bravo does not touch upon contracts.)
With Dubrow’s nonetheless going sturdy after seven years and Two Ts persevering with to high the charts, “peak Bravo podcast” feels distant. Even somebody like Wilkey, who hasn’t appeared on Bravo in a decade and whose podcast isn’t backed by a significant distributor, says she will be able to earn a good residing from it. “My podcast episodes are all behind a paywall and my Patreon does very properly,” Wilkey says. “There’s numerous totally different approaches and niches and there’s room for everybody. However I do assume it’s important to ship nice content material to outlive.”
Bravo fame has all the time introduced new alternatives: e book offers, spon con, different tv work. “After I first began actuality TV, it was seemed down upon,” Dubrow says. “Now that has utterly shifted. The probabilities as of late are infinite.” But the success of those podcasts suggests Bravo stars’ Most worthy asset isn’t simply their followings, however their deep information of the shape — they’re actuality TV stars, however they’re additionally specialists on actuality TV. In fact the Vanderpump Guidelines solid would need to money in on dissecting the “Scandoval”: They too, perceive, that the one factor extra coveted than Bravo’s footage is their reactions.
Mellencamp compares her profession as a reality-TV podcaster to being a sports activities broadcaster. “More often than not, the most effective ones performed sports activities, proper?” she says. “It’s like Andy Cohen all the time says: ‘As soon as a Housewife, all the time a Housewife.’ You could have a sure one thing that you just share with these different ladies that no person else can perceive.”