Bravo has figured out how it’s going to handle The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in the wake of Russell Armstrong’s suicide. The network has decided to air the upcoming second season despite critics calling for the show to be canceled — but will re-edit the content.
EW has confirmed that producers are in the process of re-shaping season 2. The network is also making an effort to meet the show’s original Sept. 5 premiere date. “Contrary to what is being reported, we have not made a decision to change our original premiere date but we are in the process of re-editing the show,” Bravo president Frances Berwick said to Variety.
Russell Armstrong told his mother before his death that he expected to be “crucified this season” on the show. And indeed, it seems his battles with the show’s star, Taylor Armstrong, were expected to be a prominent storyline.
The trade noted that it’s not clear what exactly will be edited from the show, but it’s a safe bet that the Armstrongs’ marital problems will either be reduced or eliminated. The editing might also have to somehow address Russell threatening the show with a lawsuit, a move that disrupted production.
Bravo’s editing decision could be controversial if the Armstrongs’ martial issues are indeed glossed over. Though viewers are cynical about how real a reality show is, when an event as permanent and dramatic as a suicide occurs among a cast being followed by cameras for a documentary-style series, re-shaping the narrative could feel, well, wrong — turning a blind eye to reality when it counted the most.
Many viewers, however, will likely feel the move is respectful, however. Showing martial conflict in the context of a breezy reality show in the wake of painful tragedy could be considered exploitative.
Either way, Armstrong sought to improve his portrayal on a TV show by threatening legal action. It seems the tragedy of ending his life may ultimately have that very effect.