If they play their cards rights, the husbands of the various Real Housewives franchises can enjoy a rather sweet deal. They show up from time to time, help their spouse out with a storyline, and then sit back as she collects a check and builds a brand.
Or, they can be like the husbands and boyfriends profiled by Page Six and complain about how their personal failings made them look stupid on national television.
The whole piece reads like a list of whiney man-babies who made poor decisions and couldn’t handle the fact they that were secondary, at best, on a show about a group of women.
And while the women knowingly sign up for the perks and pitfalls that come with airing their dirty laundry on national television, the countless husbands, boyfriends, lovers and one-night stands who appear as peripheral players aren’t as prepared for the infamy that comes with being a “Real Housewife” side piece — with many having been publicly humiliated and accused of being criminals, abusers, drug users or gay.
Yes, of course, because they had no idea what they were getting into when they signed what I’m guessing is a very similar contract to that of their wives.
The trolling of the piece becomes evident when you realize that the first person we’re hearing from is Slade Smiley, the fiancé of former Real Housewives of Orange County star Gretchen Rossi.
“Can you tell me a single guy who is on the show and hasn’t been villainized [sic]?” Slade Smiley asks The Post. He appeared on the first two “Orange County” seasons with his former fiancée, Jo De La Rosa, and again from 2010 through 2014 with his current fiancée, Gretchen Rossi.
Whenthe obvious fact that Slade decided to appear on the show not once, but twice (in addition to Jo’s terrible solo reality show) comes up, Slade counters that he only appeared on the show the second time because the producers wouldn’t sign Gretchen without him.
That may be true, but the crux of his complaints center around the idea that the men of the show are “victimized” and yes, he actually used that word. This might make sense if you’ve literally never seen an episode of the Real Housewives.
Suggesting that the men of the show are deliberately painted as jerks while the ladies come out smelling like roses and Chanel perfume is ridiculous. What Slade is really upset about is the consequence of appearing on a show that only shows a fraction of your life and the subsequent notoriety that can reveal your past, present and future fuck ups.
The story also tries to make us feel bad for Bethenny Frankel’s ex husband Jason Hoppy, but for the wrong reason. I’ll admit, Jason definitely seemed like he didn’t know what was going to hit him when he appeared on the Real Housewives of New York, but at the same time, he’s a grown man who made a decision. The fact that that decision didn’t turn out well for him is sort of just how life works.
Then we turn to a special kind of fool. Apparently Alex McCord’s husband Simon van Kempen quit his damn job to focus full time on the show.
He left Hotel Chandler in 2010 to concentrate full time on the show. But when he and his wife got axed from the series in 2011, van Kempen couldn’t land another hotel gig despite 25 years of experience.
“I spent a year trying,” he says. “Being on the show certainly didn’t help overall.
“We’ll put it this way: I’m now a law student . . . in Australia,” says 52-year-old van Kempen, who fled New York with McCord in 2014 “for a clean break.”
That is such a deeply poor display of judgment and a completely self-inflicted wound that I couldn’t muster any sympathy for this man even if I wanted to.
The show is not what hurt their reputations, they hurt their own reputations and the show ran with it—just as they take advantage of the notoriety and failings of their wives and partners.
I also find it ironic that so many of the women have managed to capitalize and even become rich (see: Bethenny and Nene) off of the show alone while the husbands, many of whom are supposedly amazing businessmen, end up flailing.
Slade came off as a dick who didn’t pay child support and mocked the looks of the other women. Brooks Ayers probably lied about having cancer. And you can’t tell me that Kelsey Grammar and Mario Singer would have stayed faithful to their wives if it hadn’t been for all the television cameras documenting their lives.
Amazingly, the men on the show who aren’t complete dicks don’t come off as complete dicks or, at the very least, they’re smart enough to hide it well.
Simon van Kempen may have destroyed his career while Erika Girardi’s husband Tom shows up when necessary and continues to do his damn job—as do Harry Hamlin, Heather Thompson’s husband Josh, and Heather’s husband Terry Dubrow.
Tamra Barney’s husband Eddie comes off pretty well, especially when you consider that he’s putting up with Tamra. When Vicki Gunvalson was married to Donn, he mostly minded his own damn business, as did the husbands of Caroline Manzo, Kathy Wakile and Aviva Drescher. From Beverly Hills, Kathryn Edwards’ husband Donnie was a gem his first season and Eileen’s husband truly doesn’t seem to give a shit about any of this and I think, smartly, treat this as his wife’s hobby.
Some of the husbands do end up more involved in the story lines but, again, it’s all how they handle it. When Kyle Richard’s husband Mauricio faced cheating allegations in Season 4, he came out largely unscathed because he wasn’t an overly defensive jackass about it and there wasn’t further proof that the rumors were true. Compare that to Kristen Taekman’s husband Josh, whose name was found in the Ashley Madison database following the leak. I’m pretty sure Bravo did not make Josh sign up for a website that helps you cheating your spouse.
The husbands and partners of the Real Housewives who come out looking messy and thirsty for attention are the ones who are exactly that. It’s not shaming or abuse or bullying; it is—more likely than not—close to what they probably deserve.
Images via Getty.