Salahis, others debut on Real Housewives of DC, the city “where reality TV comes to die”

More than eight months after making headlines, Tareq and Michaele Salahi arrive on Bravo tonight as part of The Real Housewives of DC, after making headlines post-The View appearance yesterday.

In some perfectly timed drama, Michaele Salahi’s appearance prompted dueling statements. First, ABC released a statement saying that Whoopi Goldberg “lightly touched Ms. Salahi to get her attention. … Ms. Salahi and her husband accused Whoopi of hitting Ms. Salahi. As the broadcast clearly shows, the accusation was completely unfounded and erroneous.” ABC notes that “Whoopi proceeded to defend herself verbally from this baseless claim in a heated exchange with the Salahi’s.”

That involved the f-word, according to a long statement from the Salahis’ attorney, which said that “the show was advised not to refer to Mrs. Salahi as a ‘party crasher,’ as that statement is false and defamatory,” which is hilarious because without that phrase, no one would know who they are. It added that “Mrs. Salahi’s overall experience on The View was degrading and demeaning.”

Isn’t that everyone’s experience on The View, never mind being on a reality show?

This, by the way, is the latest of a string of reality shows, competitions and docudramas, to be set in Washington, DC. But they haven’t really been successful. In Washington City Paper, my friend Mike Riggs has an exceptional takedown of DC-set reality shows, including Top Chef DC and The Real World DC. During severely unpopular MTV show, he notes, “You can imagine the suits realizing, with horror, that nobody gives a shit about a house full of twentysomethings working for social consciousness in a city full of twentysomethings working for social consciousness.”

In similarly awesome prose, Riggs writes that DC shows end up not working because “despite the establishing shots of the Capitol and the increasingly pathetic cameos from attention-seeking federal-city figures, what reality TV producers have chosen as their locale is not a nexus of power and celebrity, but a nest of normalcy.”

Bravo better hope that’s not the case for its latest Housewives show, because they rely more than anything else on their cast members’ abnormalcy, which allows us to feel superior even though they may have more money and power than we do.

D.C.: Where Reality TV Comes to Die [Washington City Paper]

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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.