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How Twitter affects Real Housewives drama

The Real Housewives of Orange County logoMarch 21, 2006 is the day the first episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County aired on Bravo. How innocent we were back then, before nearly 100 percent of Bravo’s programming became series copied and pasted from the show’s template.

March 21, 2006, was, coincidentally and amazingly, also the same day the very first tweet was sent on Twitter.

Now, nine years and 10 seasons later, the two are locked in a battle fueled by your tweets, which are ruining the show’s drama. Okay, yes, I’m over-dramatizing for Housewives-style effect, but there is a relationship between the two that’s more consequential than many of the relationships on RHOC or its many spin-offs.

Tweets from 1 percent of viewers change Housewives behavior

RHOC started its 10th season Monday night, and the show’s producers, Evolution Media’s Douglas Ross and Alex Baskin, talked to Realscreen about their production challenges. Those include bringing new women into the cast and burnout from filming for nine to 10 months out of every year.

One of their major challenges comes from their cast and viewers’ use of Twitter. Ross said:

“It doesn’t only happen when the show is airing but it also happens during production, because even though it’s against the rules, the women are constantly tweeting about what’s going on and some of the conflicts, and they’ll get feedback from their fans and their haters, but mostly the haters, so they start over-correcting based on people who have very negative things to say.”

Interestingly, according to RealScreen, a Bravo study “discovered that only one percent of viewers are active on Twitter during the show, but this is the percentile that generally does the most damage.” Ross explains:

“Those are the ones who freak the cast out and we’re left to pick up the pieces afterwards because they’re so devastated by what one person in their basement in Des Moines has to say about them.”

It’s not clear if this causes cast members to back away from their production of camera-friendly drama or to freak out even more, thus giving the producers even more material to work with. Either way, tweeting negative things at a reality TV show cast member–which is a bad idea anyway–can actually change their behavior.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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