‘Real Housewives’ Producers Shouldn’t Let Kids Be Central Cast Members

The producers of franchises like ‘RHOP’ and ‘RHONJ’ have begun allowing the children of their stars to get their own storylines, and it’s problematic.

Gia and Teresa Giudice smile on the 'WWHL' red carpet
Image via Bravo

The Big Picture

  • Real Housewives viewers enjoy drama between the cast, not their kids’ storylines.
  • Growing up on Real Housewives can lead to negative long-term psychological effects for children on the show.
  • Viewers prefer to focus on seasoned Housewives, not their daughters, to maintain interest in the series.

Fans of The Real Housewives watch the reality showsto witness the trainwrecks of the primary cast members. Sure, their families are a part of their lives that viewers enjoy seeing, but does that mean they should get equal screen time? Real Housewives viewers love the series because of the authentically outlandish personalities that often clash, leading to unforgettable moments that live on via the internet through memes. The Housewives are a pop culture phenomenon, and even when a fan-favorite Housewife leaves a franchise, they remain in viewer’s hearts to the point in which a return is never really off the table. Even NeNe Leakes, who has had a bitter feud with Bravo in the past, is slowly warming up to the network again, as the fans have been begging for her to be back on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Their hope to see NeNe get her peach back ramped up after learning that of the Season 16 cast shake-up.

Even when people like NeNe Leakes are no longer involved with the series, their lives are still forever a part of the franchise. And that includes their families. NeNe’s sons Bryson and Brentt were featured regularly as children on the series, and now that they’re grown, the unfortunate issues of her eldest son Bryson have become news fodder. And these were two kids who were minimally featured in the series. With the superstardom of these women being so obvious to viewers, they’ve also noticed a shift happening in recent seasons. Several of the daughters of favorite Housewives have been receiving more attention on their franchises, even getting their own storylines and confessionals. In a world in which viewers tune in to see rich adult women bicker and live luxuriously, why would producers assume that fans also want to watch their daughters’ stories as well? And the bigger question is, is it the right thing to do?

‘RHOP’ and ‘RHONJ’ Daughters Have Their Own Unnecessary Storylines

Gizelle and Grace Bryant sit and chat during 'RHOP' S8 confessional
Image via Bravo

It is always fun to see the children of our favorite Housewives pop up in a confessional every once in a while, especially when they’re still little and adorable. After all, kids can’t help saying the darndest things. But the key there is “once in a while.” But oftentimes, after that cute moment, viewers are immediately over it and ready to get back to the reason they love the show in the first place: the drama between the core cast. The average age demographic currently tuning in to Bravo’s top series is between the ages of 25 and 54. People at these ages are not interested in the inner workings of a teenager’s life. This is why the sudden focus on the daughters themselves feels like an odd choice.

For example, there is Gizelle Bryant, whose daughters have often popped up now and again as a source of entertainment, primarily because of the way they read their mother about her lackluster life choices. And while that is something viewers love seeing, it’s still energy that’s focused on a Housewife. Lately, however, Grace, the eldest daughter, has been getting more and more spotlight and more confessionals alone. One episode recap on Vulture.com pointed out that it almost feels as if Gizelle’s daughters are being used more like a buffer for her this season. Gizelle’s been in hot water with fans lately, as her inauthentic behavior has continued to be rather annoying to watch, with a few even thinking she should be fired in the same way they want Robyn Dixon gone. The focus on Grace’s story feels more like a distraction, which is always a point of frustration for fans who understand how these series are supposed to work.

Unlike Potomac, The Real Housewives of New Jersey has included the daughters differently. The daughters are inserting themselves directly into the drama. Gia Giudice, the 23-year-old daughter of Teresa Giudice, has been heavily involved in the ongoing feud between her mother, aunt, and uncle. During the season 13 reunion, Joe Gorga accuses his niece of calling himand telling him to leave his wife, Melissa. With Andy Cohen’s interjection, Gia is called to verify the information. Gia’s involvement grew as her parent’s legal troubles mounted, resulting in both of them serving jail time. In Teresa’s absence, a spinoff special centered on how Teresa’s daughters were adjusting to life without their mother aired. Gia being included in this storyline makes no sense, but not to this degree. Teresa has enough drama with her brother and sister-in-law to film without the involvement of her young adult daughters.

There are Psychological Effects of Growing Up on ‘The Real Housewives’

'RHONJ' star Teresa Giudice with her four daughters: Gabriella, Audriana, Milania, and Gia
Image by Annamaria Ward, Bravo

If there is one thing any TV fan, regardless of genre, knows, it’s that if a child becomes a star and grows up as a TV personality, there is a 50/50 chance they’ll have severe mental health issues as adults. It has been seen with people like Amanda Bynes and Britney Spears, who have publicly struggled with their mental health for decades. Others like Macaulay Culkin and Orlando Brown have had issues with drugs and alcohol. Some make it through to the other side the way Macaulay has, while many continue to struggle, like Orlando.

Horror stories have come out in recent years about shows like Toddlers & Tiaras, 19 Kids and Counting, and Dance Moms, in which the children were the focal point.Stories of verbal abuse and racism on Dance Moms and the horrifying details of assault provided by Jill Duggar in Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets. Growing up under the spotlight has a deep psychological effect, and this includes The Real Housewives.

Gina DeLeon, who is the ex-wife of Real Housewives of Orange County’s George Peterson understands these negative effects firsthand. According to TheWrap, Gina believes that appearing on the show had “a devastating effect” on her children, who were not on the show initially. When a co-star hooked up with Gina’s ex-husband George Peterson in season 2, he wanted the kids to join him in front of the cameras. “They begged not to be on it,” DeLeon told TheWrap, but she claims her ex forced them to participate. As a result, she said her children were harassed about it in school.

Bullying isn’t the only issue that can arise from early public exposure. It also affects the self-esteem of these children. According to Dr. Drew Pinksy: “These shows can open the kids to a level of public scrutiny, of shame, and of failure… You have to ask yourself if that is conducive to positive outcomes as they get older… Children can’t give informed consent by definition, only the parents can do that — and reality shows generally don’t cast adults who have the highest level of mental health. They are severe narcissists who are obsessed with celebrity.”

Low self-esteem issues can lead to things like depression and anxiety, which often leads to the abuse of drugs and alcohol. It can also affect body image, which can lead to eating disorders. RHONJ fans have already seen this in Teresa Giudice’s daughter, Milania, who recently turned 18, but has publicly talked about her decision to lose weight and how the pressures from being on the show was a catalyst to do so.

Viewers Do Not Want to Watch the Real Daughters of ‘The Real Housewives’

Brielle Biermann and Kim Zolciak-Biermann pose on red carpet on WWHL
Image via Bravo

Shows like Don’t Be Tardy and RHONJ have heavily featured the daughters of their stars. Brielle Biermann was often featured, even getting into trouble alongside her mother, Kim Zolciak. In fact, thanks to their current monetary woes, Brielle’s name has been in the news a lot. Young women like Brielle and Gia have grown up being filmed on television, and there is a good chance the producers of these shows are hoping to spawn new series as they continue to grow as adults. But is that what Real Housewives viewers want?

The answer is most likely no. The reason their mothers were cast is because they have more well-rounded life experiences to contribute to a storyline. The focus on their daughters just feels like a ploy for more spinoffs in the future. With the exception of Vandeprump Rules, Real Housewives spinoffs have historically not done so well with the viewers, as they often fizzle out due to the presence of their original cast being missed. If the focus on the daughters is about setting up a legacy of future shows, it’s not a good idea.

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