I will admit to you all right here right now that I wanted to read @BravoAndy‘s book for two reasons and two reasons only: 1) I wanted some serious Housewives dirt, and 2) I find him to be very funny on his not-so-new late-night talk show. I hadn’t a clue if it was well written or even a good life story, but indeed it was.
Andy Cohen is your typical gay Jewish boy from the Midwest. (Oh, I guess that’s not so typical?) He doesn’t dive too deep into his childhood, thankfully, because that’s not the point of the book, but he does share his coming out saga. I was surprised by how long he waited (college) and how no one in his life had any kind of negative reaction (unless he sugar-coated it for their sakes). I just feel like there’s always one. But good for him.
The book mainly focuses on Andy’s career, which started as an extraordinarily pushy intern at CBS and has ended up as executive producer/genius show creator at Bravo. He solidified my belief that I could never ever ever ever work in broadcast journalism, in front of or behind the camera — the traveling, the emotional separation from the tragic events, etc. — but his stories were interesting and amusing nonetheless. Especially how he met his idol, Susan Lucci, via excessive nagging and lying as a Boston University journalism student, and how he completely effed up meeting Oprah. On three separate occasions.
Unfortunately there is not as much Housewives dirt as I hoped, but I did learn that they almost canceled the inaugural season (Orange County) because they thought it was boring and assumed everyone would hate it. Let me digress a little here and address the nationwide (although I suppose it’s broadcast internationally now) issue of the Real Housewives franchise: We knows it’s trash. We also know it’s staged trash to some extent, but I don’t think it’s staged nearly as much as, say, The Hills. But we don’t care. All seasons/locations of the Real Housewives appeal to 90% of females age 15-70, not because we can relate to having that kind of money or lifestyle but because we can relate to having bitchy friends who talk about us behind our backs and whom we talk about behind their backs. In fact, I know plenty of women who watch this show to feel BETTER about themselves and the goings-on in their lives because it makes us think, “Well, at least I’m not a recovering drug addict who just got a nose job and can’t have pain meds” or “At least no one recently flipped a table in my direction”. Many other networks have tried to emulate the show’s style but only one has even come remotely close: Mob Wives (which, I must say, is trashier by miles). So it’s obvious Mr. Cohen struck some serious gold with these fabulously flakey ladies, but it’s also obvious in the book that that’s not necessarily what he desires to be most known for. Good luck with that, Cohen.
From this book I also learned that Watch What Happens Live began long before I started watching. (That always surprises me; how did something so great exist before I knew about it?) After successfully hosting some of the Housewives’ reunion specials — Andy’s first time in front of instead of behind the camera — Bravo gave the green light for his own show, and it’s been a hit ever since. Now, I am not a talk show person whatsoever — I think the only one I have ever watched on a semi-occasional basis is Ellen — but this one is great. It’s at 11 p.m., so it doesn’t really feel like a talk show, and he always books random combinations of B- to D-list celebrities to create the most hilariously awkward situations. Fun fact: People credit Andy with always “asking the tough questions”, but in the book he stresses the fact that he is usually reading fan questions. He just makes sure they answer.
So, Housewife fan or not, I recommend this nonfiction Jewish gay boy tale to any pop culture appreciater.