Boffo ratings, but beige story lines for Bravo's 'Real Housewives of D.C.'

The Washington Post's Hamil Harris catches up with Catherine Ommanney of The Real House Wives of D.C. Ommanney watched the season finale at the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C.
By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, October 8, 2010

No matter how many times you click your little heels together and make a wish, you might not awaken Friday morning after watching Bravo's "Real Housewives of D.C." finale only to discover it was all a bad technicolor dream that, happily, is over.

Because all that blah blah blah that you've been reading about the show's lousy ratings? Just wishful thinking on the part of The Reporters Who Cover TV.

The Washington iteration has been, since its unveiling Aug. 5, the second-most-watched "Housewives" debut season in the franchise's history. Averaging 1.58 million viewers, it's trending behind only "Real Housewives of New Jersey," which attracted a record 2.55 million viewers its first season, in 2009.

"RHDC" hasn't completely wrapped its first season: Bravo's about to announce a two-hours-over-two-nights reunion show in which, we hear, all the non-Michaele Salahi housewives kick up a storm over how the Salahis and That Visit to That White House State Dinner completely derailed their lovely little reality TV series.

The show's mom-of-five/biometric lock user/Arthur Godfrey granddaughter Mary Amons, modeling agency matron Lynda Erkiletian, real-estate agent Stacie Turner and self-edit-gene-lacking British designer Catherine Ommanney -- they're apparently hoppin' mad.

But they're not wig-tearing, table-flipping mad -- which from the start has been one of the problems with this iteration of the Bravo network ratings magnet.

"Real Housewives of D.C." is, quite simply, too quiet.

And too dignified.

In other words: too Washington.

"We knew this was going to be different from the others," Andy Cohen, Bravo SVP of original programming and development, told the TV Column on the phone Thursday afternoon. "It's less noisy."

Some of the other "Real Housewives" editions have benefited from being located "in the center of the media world. . . . Those women are going to parties every night that 'E.T.' and 'Extra' and 'Access Hollywood' are covering. Those feed into a kind of noise machine that D.C. doesn't have."

Washington is a media town, he acknowledged, but it's a different, more beige media.

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