Real Housewives of DC cast includes Salahis, Bravo’s deception is confirmed

Bravo confirmed last week that The Real Housewives of DC will air this summer and star Michaele Salahi, who with her husband Tareq Salahi became immediately famous when they crashed a White House state dinner late last November.

The full cast of housewives, according to Bravo’s press release, consists of “Mary Schmidt Amons, the true Washingtonian and granddaughter of radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey; the mother hen and owner of D.C.’s top modeling agency, Lynda Erkiletian; feisty Brit Catherine Ommanney, married to a White House photographer; model and founder of D.C.’s America’s Polo Cup, Michaele Salahi who became the focus of media attention following the White House state dinner last November; and Harvard grad, active political fund raiser, and philanthropist Stacie Scott Turner.”

As I wrote last December, there was no way that the Salahis weren’t going to be on the show: the publicity alone was incentive enough, but Bravo kept coyly insisting that they hadn’t yet finalized the cast. Well, that was bullshit, because Bravo VP Andy Cohen admits in a Huffington Post piece that “late in our production cycle Michaele Salahi told producers that she and her husband Tareq had been invited to the White House State Dinner.” In other words, nearly the whole season had been filmed when that happened; there was no question who was in the cast, although certainly someone could be edited out. But that’s not what Bravo was saying at the time. The AP’s report says the same thing more gently: “After the gate crashing, Bravo had said no decision had been made on whether Salahi would be in the cast — a statement that would seem contradictory to Cohen’s claim Tuesday that the network was nearing the end of its filming when it happened.”

Also in his piece, Andy actually uses the phrase “here’s what” (banging your head into something solid after reading that is a normal response) but otherwise rather articulately justifies the network’s decision to broadcast the show and not edit them out. Andy writes, “our decision to include them in the series speaks to a very basic programming mandate, which is to present real people as they exist within their universe. … To the people who might excoriate us and say we’re making Michaele famous or glorifying what she did: ‘here’s what’ — we don’t make shows to make people famous and as a corollary, we don’t view being on a television show either as a reward or a punishment. That’s up to the individuals who choose to do so and the people who choose to watch and react.”

Andy also says that at the beginning of production, he thought the cast would be “provocative and engaging in a whole new way. My fantasy was that our group of Housewives would disagree — ok, maybe even fight — about politics. This was to be a new breed of Housewives.”

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.