Kathy Griffin, Housewives table-flipping bring Bravo record ratings, but The Fashion Show’s ratings are low

Bravo’s answer to its loss of Project Runway has failed to catch on with viewers, but the opposite is true of both Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List and The Real Housewives franchise, which have pulled in record ratings for the network, and the New Jersey women even helped the network beat broadcast TV.

The first six episodes of The Fashion Show, a shameless clone of Project Runway, have “averaged slightly under one million viewers, despite heavy promotion by Bravo,” The New York Times reports. By comparison, Project Runway 5 averaged 3.580 million viewers per episode. Bravo’s GM and EVP Frances Berwick dismisses the low ratings, telling the paper, “For a freshman series, it’s as good as we can ever hope for” and insisting “We’re not a one-hit network anymore.”

That’s true, but one series is doing consistently well for the network even in all of its iterations. The Real Housewives ended its first New Jersey season last Tuesday night. Between the 10 p.m. broadcast and 11 p.m. repeat, 4.6 million people watched and made it Bravo’s “highest Tuesday telecast ever in total viewers, according to Bravo, which notes that the network was “the No.1 rated television network in adults 18-49″ for the night, beating even broadcast TV. New Jersey was also “the highest rated Real Housewives series ever in all demographics.”

To capitalize on that popularity, Bravo will air a two-part reunion starting Tuesday, and last Thursday aired an hour-long “director’s cut” version of the most dramatic part of the first-season finale, when Theresa, the one who looks like a Bratz doll, flipped a table after Danielle offended her by telling her to “pay attention.”

Short of giving us the equivalent of the raw Big Brother feed, the “director’s cut” seemed to include pretty much everything producers had from the dinner and its aftermath. From camera angles (even ones that included other camera operators or sound people) to interview comments, one scene from the finale became an hour-long episode. In one segment alone, they showed the table flip nine different times. Nine.

Extended interviews included Danielle’s two kids, who were present for the fight. So why did Danielle’s kids stay when the other women told their kids to leave? Danielle told E!’s Marc Malkin, “My kids deserved to see how Mommy was going to grow from this and move forward. My children needed to learn from that, and that is why they wanted to stay in the room.”

Meanwhile, the new season of Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List also set records for Bravo when it debuted in its new Monday night timeslot two weeks ago. It had “nearly one million total viewers [for its first episode], making it the network’s highest rated Monday original series telecast ever in all demographics,” Bravo said in a press release, which noted that when compared to the fourth season, the series “was up 17 percent among adults 18-49 (652,000 vs. 558,000) and up 19 percent among total viewers (945,000 vs. 793,000).”

As to the new season, so far it’s been great, with the “celebrity oriented” focus and guest star A-listers only making Kathy even funnier. Bette Midler guested on the first episode and revealed herself to be passive aggressive and freaked out by the way Kathy was upstaging her, while second episode guest Lily Tomlin was the exact opposite, laughing and thoroughly enjoying her time on the D-List.

Mild Start for Bravo’s ‘Runway’ Replica [New York Times]
Bravo No. 1 Television Network in A18-49… and On the D-List No More… [Bravo press releases]
N.J. Housewives’ Danielle: “My Kids Wanted to Be in the Room!” [E! Online]

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.