Giuliana and Bill Rancic, Lamas family insist reality shows will strengthen their relationships

This fall, two reality shows will chronicle two different families: E!’s The Lamas Life follows Lorenzo and Shayne Lamas and their family, while Style follows newlyweds Giuliana and Bill Rancic on Giuliana & Bill. All of the cast members appeared in front of critics Thursday morning and all tried to insist that these shows would actually help their relationships rather than hurt them, even as the creator of The Bachelor and The Lamas Life laughed.

First up were Bill and Giuliana Rancic, who met when she interviewed him. They tried to insist that their new show, which follows their long-distance relationship, was both positive and would strengthen their relationship.

Bill Rancic said he knows “there’s that reality show curse that’s out there, but this is much different. This is a very positive show. … it makes being married cool. There’s no flipping over of tables and, you know, screaming and cursing at each other.” His wife interrupted to say, “there’s a little of that, but it comes later in the season and not so early.” Bill said, “it’s just a very positive, very loving show because that’s who we are, and it’s very authentic, I think. A lot of the shows on the air today that you’re referring to, a lot of that isn’t genuine.”

Giuliana, who clearly knows nothing about the popularity of The Real Housewives despite being an E! anchor, said “that trash TV, like Bill was saying, the flipping over the tables and cursing each other out — I feel like people don’t want to see that much anymore. You know, especially people who are tuning into our show.”

Asked if the show would hurt their relationship, the couple said the opposite was true. Bill said, “I think it gives you a very unique perspective to your marriage because it gives you the opportunity to see your marriage from the outside looking in and very few people have that experience.”

Giuliana said, “My theory is that these reality shows accelerated them, like the
breakup and the drama in their lives, because you are forced to communicate more than a lot of couples. There’s a lot of couples when there’s problems, one bottles it up, and it doesn’t come out until five years later. Whereas with us, we’re forced to communicate. If something is wrong with him, he has to tell me. …[T]hose couples probably would have broken up anyway even if they hadn’t had this show. I think it accelerated it, maybe. At the end of the day, Bill and I are very traditional.”

The best part of their panel came with the obvious question: Why watch a show with no drama? Bill said, “I think the drama that exists in the show is real drama. It’s real drama that every couple experiences. I think we’re very relatable to the people who are watching this show because everything that we go through, they’ve probably gone through in their lives.” He was cut off by a critic who said “hosting TV shows?”, because of course, they’re not a typical couple. Bill finally said, “I get your point.”

A short time later, Bachelor producer Mike Fleiss said Bill and Giuliana are delusional about the lack of conflict drawing viewers.

“I think if you look at the ratings, I think they’re kidding themselves. The big shows are still the ones that give you the high-octane drama. And, you know, I don’t think that’s ever going to change. I don’t know how you would dial that down and just — what do you want? Just to be sort of milky and soft? I think that — it doesn’t necessarily have to be a train wreck, but, you know, some sort of bumping is good because you need conflict in all storytelling. And I think that that applies to reality too.”

Fleiss was speaking at a session for The Lamas Life, the upcoming E! reality show that follows the dysfunctional Lamas family—Lorenzo Lamas, his wife Michele Smith, Shayne and A.J., who all said they’re actually using reality TV to repair their fractured family.

First, A.J. deflected a question about his relationship with Shauna, his former stepmother, to his dad, who said, “I don’t think there’s a relationship. … I guess you will just have to watch the show to find out how we deal with that.” Lorenzo later said his relationship with A.J. was “strained” and they hadn’t talked for “a few years” until they started working on the new show.

When asked about making that public on TV, A.J. said, “I felt the same way, man. I’m like, ‘A fucking TV show to bring us back together?’ But you know what? Honestly, if it takes a TV show for me and this guy to come back together, then so be it. You know, like he said, we’ve seen more of each other in these past two weeks than we’ve seen in four years. And we’re working on it. I have my issues with him from when I was younger. He has his with me, you know. But it’s — watch the show.”

Lorenzo said, “I just, honestly, am looking at it as an opportunity to get closer to my kids, the two kids who I really never got a chance to see much when they were younger because I was working so much, and we have a relationship that could stand to be better.” A.J. and Shayne’s mother, Michele Smith, said, “I think what you’re going to see is a family dynamic, raw and uncensored like you’ve never seen before. I mean, there truly is — this is not scripted. It’s really the way we are. And that’s a scary thing, you know, I mean, really seeing who you are, at least for me.”

Shayne said she agreed to do the show when Fleiss approached her even though “I was just getting out of that reality, and I got so much flak from that. And my career was, you know, not, obviously, going anywhere because I wasn’t getting into the rooms that I was getting into prior to ‘The Bachelor.’ … I think that I chose to hop on board on this project because, A, the opportunity for my family.”

While Fleiss said “there’s a lot of craziness on the show” and “a lot of conflict, it’s really about heart and love and respect for each other as family members,” he also joked about the family’s insistence that this was like therapy for them. “There’s only one way to get a family back together, and that’s on television,” he said. “That’s what the E! channel is all about, really, when you think about it.”

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