In 2023, everyone tuned into the Bravo drama – LSB

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There is this phrase that is often associated with Andy Cohen: ringmaster. Bravo’s Circus Leader. The man who provides some semblance of order and, importantly, containment to this wild world of screaming hosts, lecherous bartenders, and other assorted daredevils. What is a circus if not its own little world in a big tent?

This year, however, was the year Bravo’s circus broke free from its tents. It went mainstream.

For the longest time, there have been people like me: Bravo fans well-versed in backstories, petty fights, outright hate, and season-long character arcs. The knowledge, if you will.

In a way, the Bravo fandom was a bit like the Marvel fandom—a deep-rooted erudition, a devoted audience, and its own universe of heroes and stars. Yet Marvel is the closest thing we have to a monoculture. it is inevitably. Bravo inspired intense fan fervor, but fandom was relatively isolated. It’s 2023 and a little thing called Scandal has rocked the internet.

You probably didn’t miss it, but in case you did, I previously explained the whole saga to Mashable back in March:

“In Brief: Bravo Reality Star”Vanderpump Rules,’ Tom Sandoval, who allegedly cheated on his longtime girlfriend Ariana Maddix, who is also on the show, with another Vanderpump star, Raquel Lewis, who is the co-star’s ex-fiancée pump star James Kennedy.”

These were the commonalities… a reality star… cheated on… with another reality star. Knocked me down with a feather, didn’t you?


A comprehensive guide to the scandalous drama Vanderpump Rules.

But this it just happened to be the moment Bravo broke the limiter. The Internet has slowly but surely turned Bravolebrities into normal, if somewhat C-list, celebrities. Stars from hosts franchises — Cohen’s original brainchild — have long haunted TMZ’s digital pages, Page six, peopleand other similar commercial establishments. hosts and the numerous spinoffs and other franchises— Vanderpump, Southern Charm, Summer House, Below Deck — spawned other stars who earn brand deals and money to shill things on Instagram. In short, Bravo was once a cable television channel, but is now inhabited by a legion of influencers and personalities.

Even if you don’t care about Bravo, its stars are everywhere. In the run-up to the scandal, we had hard-hitting news documentaries about not one, but two separate wives and their legal troubles. Things were already growing. ABC News didn’t rush a docuseries about New Jersey housewife Teresa Giudice going to prison in 2015. Now they’re taking a chance.

When the scandal broke, it was a fuck it moment for Bravo fans. But in some ways no more fuck it than Bravo’s numerous other scandals over the years – I mean, hell, it would take me a book-length word count to detail the many indiscretions and lies of Vanderpump co-star Jax Taylor alone. Very soon there was a detailed breakdown of Scandoval in the prestigious pages of New York Times. Dear journalist Anderson Cooper, Cohen’s longtime BFF, was forced to talk about it on CNN. Even the usually staid NPR had to cover it in a 27-minute segment.

Maddix was on Dancing with the starsand very soon she will participate in Chicago on Broadway. Sandoval was in The Masked Singer. Maddix was at the crappy White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where host Roy Wood joked about the scandal. A reality TV parody of something lovingly called Nerd Prom. The president was there.

This is about as mainstream as mainstream gets.


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I’d say Bravo fans were building towards that goal. In our age of loving influencers, it was only a matter of time. There was only one spark missing from the powder keg, and damn if Scandoval wasn’t a fire starter. It was the perfect scandal for 2023: It played out in the public eye, as the season aired, and even required emergency filming. It was novel in that the people involved were partners in life we had watched for years, not new reality stars messing around and cheating.

Even if you didn’t know the lore — the very fact that Vanderpump myself was spawned by a cheating scandal The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, for example – you, like almost everyone, now had a vague idea that these people existed. It would have been hard for me to imagine even five years ago.

Bravo fandom has long had an obsessive aspect. True fans know the tangled web of crossovers between Southern charm, Winter house, below deck, summer house, and different hosts franchises. Fans can quote Bravo on command: “I’ll tell you how I’m doing…not good, bitch!” or “Turtle time.” They know the various rap sheets of current and former stars.

But just as something like the NBA has hardcore fans and casual fans, now there are casual Bravo fans. Heck, there were even actual IRL viewing parties Vanderpump like it’s live sports.


Scandoval IRL: Wild Fun at the ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Reunion Watch Party, Part 3

The Bravo fandom was kind of like my favorite band The Hold Steady — they’re either your favorite band or you have no idea they exist. Well done fans manifested their own version of celebrity, a homegrown Bravolebrity who could live completely anonymously. There is no way to put the genie back in the bottle now. The platform has outgrown this fandom. This year, Bravocon got so big that it ditched the New York convention center for the glitz of Vegas. That’s because it’s no longer a fan convention. It’s a news-making and meet-and-greet event with influencers.

There’s no turning back for Bravo. Even if you don’t tune in, there’s a good chance you’ll see the stars on TikTok or on the pages of peopleor even on CNN. Vanderpump‘c Scandoval was the last thing that made everyone notice that Bravo had gone mainstream, but it was already going in that direction.

This is not all good for Bravo and Cohen, his manager. Remember those papers about the Wives’ alleged crimes? Or how things that might once have been minor news stories, like the recent domestic violence arrest, are now major headlines? There’s also an apparent “reporting” from current and former Bravo stars who are angry about how they’ve been treated. Going mainstream means even bigger problems.

Plot during the broadcast season of Southern charm for example includes people cast reporter Austin Kroll reached out to fellow cast member Taylor Ann Green, who is the ex of, you guessed it, cast member Shep Rose. This article came out while the cast was filming the season, which means the show isn’t just existing summarized, had its gossipy news stories broken long before the season even aired.

Sure, maybe the Bravo fandom is still a kind of eccentric carnival. But we’ll need a bigger tent.

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