Reality TV, Uncategorized

What the Hell, Luke Pell?: ‘The Bachelor’ Franchise Contestant Has Been There For All The Wrong Reasons

luke and stassi

ABC/PAUL HEBERT, Stassi Yaramchuk and Luke Pell at the World Tells All special.

The Bachelor Winter Games just ended and like former iterations of The Bachelor franchise spinoffs, the objectives were murky, the competitions silly, the rules ridiculous and the overarching goals unclear….except to have contestants coupling up at the end. The franchise smacks of desperation and if I ever hear the term “I think I could fall in love with him (her)…” again, I might have to tear my hair out. Something about it all is very inorganic and rushed, which is why it’s unsurprising that Bachelor Winter Games contestant Luke Pell proved to be an insincere jackass.

The Winter Games was comprised of contestants from around the world who had been on their countries’ versions of The Bachelor and Luke bonded quickly with Stassi Yaramchuk who had been on The Bachelor: Sweden. The “deep talk” that connected the two of them was about how they both had battled heart problems. Immediately, that became the discussion point to solidify a bond and it seemed that the two were inseparable and mutually devoted to one another throughout the competition. Ever since Luke vied for Jojo’s affections during her season of The Bachelorette, rumors had dogged the Nashville musician as well as claims that he had been approached to be The Bachelor, but had demanded that his season be all about his music. Nick Viall was chosen instead. The sense was that Luke was about getting likes, Instagram followers and song downloads, rather than being sincere about looking for love. However, when Stassi showed up on Winter Games, viewers saw a tender side of the country crooner.

After expressing how much he cared about her during the competition, it was a complete 180 when he iced her out at the show’s reunion last Thursday night. Stassi attempted to talk with him and find out why he had not been in contact at all since the show ended. Luke referenced a conversation that Stassi was completely unaware of ever having (and which, it was clear to viewers, had never taken place) about agreeing to go their separate ways. It was obvious to one and all that Luke was lying and he had ghosted Stassi once Winter Games were over. When Stassi tried to talk to him during the commercial break, he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in even responding to her.

Luke represents a sinister reality behind reality television. He is someone who went on a show to raise his following and promote his music rather than being sincere about looking for long term love. In the past, the franchise has been compassionate about (seemingly) commitment-phobic men and giving them another chance: Dean Unglert juggled two women on Bachelor in Paradise, coming across as a royal jerk to a smitten Kristina Schulman, yet he returned for this season’s Winter Games and found love with contestant Lesley Murphy.

dean and lesley

PAUL HEBERT, Dean “proposes” to Lesley – well, not really. He offers her a key to his apartment.

Then there was Bachelor Brad Womack who rejected both suitors in the finale of his first season, but was brought back to be the Bachelor a second time and got engaged to Emily Maynard (they broke up 8 months later).  However, these men were not as overtly obnoxious and icy as Luke was on The Bachelor Winter Games reunion. Luke was afforded two chances with the franchise and one can only hope producers realize that in this case, he is not deserving of a third chance. If he appears on this summer’s Bachelor in Paradise, fans will be outraged and it will look like a case of producers rewarding bad boy behavior. Then again, anything is possible within this vapid franchise. Either way, I’ll be tuning in.



Bravo TV, Uncategorized

Vanderpump Rules’ Billie Lee: “It’s an Inspiring Story, But It’s Still My Truth”

This season on Vanderpump Rules, we were introduced to a woman who brings a charming candor about her private life and personal journey to a national audience. With matriarch Lisa Vanderpump as a known LGBTQ proponent, it is notable that the newest cast member Billie Lee is Vanderpump Rules’ first transgender cast member. In an interview with Danny Pellegrino for his podcast Everything Iconic, Billie Lee disclosed that viewers will get to see much more about her life and the anxieties she grapples with. She also spoke about how difficult it has been to open up about her journey and how she is adjusting to suddenly finding herself in the spotlight. To read more about Billie Lee’s interview with Danny Pellegrino, see my article on the website All About The Real Housewives (

Bravo TV, Uncategorized

Vanderpump Rules’ Lala Kent on Building Relationships, Exuding Confidence and Becoming an Entrepreneur (

This season of Vanderpump Rules has been one about personal growth and maturity for Lala Kent who has made it clear that her female cast mates should be building one another up rather than tearing each other down. In an interview with Kate Casey of the eponymous podcast Reality Life with Kate Casey, Kent made it clear that she has regrets over any disparaging remarks she made to female cast mates in past seasons of the show. She is bringing her authentic “girl’s girl” persona to the current season, hoping to make up for past mistakes. To read more about this interview between Lala Kent and Kate Casey, read my article on the website All About the Real Housewives, 



She Survived a Terrorist Attack and Now Helps Other Victims

sarri singer

As someone who lived in Israel for a year and visited many times, I am passionate about the land. I am also concerned with the safety of all people there. I can tell you that each visit of mine was a quiet and calm one with no incident, despite what we may see on the news. Reports by the BBC and on CNN often amplify the unrest and contentiousness between Palestinians and Israelis, but do not spotlight the positive daily interactions that restore hope. I desperately crave peace and coexistence in the “promised land,” wanting Muslims and Jews to somehow miraculously come to an impasse.

In my own personal life, a close friend is a religious, American Muslim of Pakistani descent and I’m from an observant Jewish American family with Eastern European roots. The two of us have joked about wanting to start a podcast called “Peace in the Middle East” to discuss how similar our cultures are, while dissecting differences and points of debate. Our end goal would be to convey to those who see “the other side” as the enemy: Why can’t we all just get along?! Look at how much we actually have in common. (It goes without saying that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is way more complicated than this and there is so much to examine.)

Sarri Singer is another friend of mine who is focused on bringing together people of different religions (Christians, Jews, Muslims…) and people of all backgrounds. For her, it is for a specific mission that aligns with her personal passion: helping victims of terrorism. Sarri started an organization after surviving a horrifying bombing attack on an Israeli bus. To this day, when a glass drops, she’s reflexively brought back to what she describes as a “silence of death all around.”

On June 11, 2003, the daughter of New Jersey state senator Robert Singer was on Bus 14 in Jerusalem when an 18-year-old suicide bomber boarded. Minutes later, 17 people were killed and more than 100 people were injured, including Sarri, who could not fully open her eyes to see the casualties around her. She screamed and a man from blocks away, not a paramedic or an EMT, but a civilian, brought her to safety.

“In Israel, people instinctively know to help everybody,” she says, adding: “He didn’t pause, but just ran over and jumped right into action.” After being rescued from the carnage, Sarri was hospitalized for two weeks and says, “I’m happy with my injuries because I’m lucky, I am still here when others did not come home that day” referring to the minor loss of hearing in one ear and shrapnel in parts of her body that aren’t removable.

Sarri had never imagined she would find herself in a hospital bed, the survivor of a bombing. Until September 11th, she had worked as Director of Recruitment for National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) a few blocks from the World Trade Center in New York City. After walking the streets and seeing the destruction from that day, observing tourists snapping photos and feeling a desperate need to do something, Sarri resigned from her position and moved to Israel to help terror victims.

There she coordinated bone marrow drives for Gift of Life, volunteered with organizations such as KEDMA, Kids4Kids, The Koby Mandell Foundation and the One Family Fund. Then, on her way to meet a friend that fateful day in June, she boarded Bus 14 and her life changed forever, making her mission a more personal one.

She would later return to Israel after convalescing at her parents’ home in New Jersey, determined not to show fear or let the terrorists win. Israel was where her heart belonged. She loved the land and its people and would not be chased away by fear.

“I went back in September 2003 after the attack because I wanted to be there,” she explains, “I didn’t want that 18-year-old who boarded the bus to hurt and murder innocent people to make me scared. Terrorism is about paralyzing us with fear. I didn’t want to be the victim that the terrorist wanted.”

Sarri went on to work as an administrator in a school until medical issues brought her back to the U.S. In June 2012 she founded an international organization Strength to Strength (originally called One Heart) which is based out of NYC and assists terror victims worldwide by bringing them together to heal and move forward.

Strength to Strength specifically focuses on the long term psychological care and peer to peer support for victims and their families. The organization continues to share insight into the ongoing struggle for those affected by these types of tragedies globally.

“We work to bring survivors together,” Sarri explains, “Dealing with the residual trauma and helping people heal over time.” Sarri notes how in the Israel people don’t think twice about assisting right away, giving of themselves, their money and their hearts.

Rami Levy is exemplary of this concept. He is the owner of one of the largest eponymous supermarket chains in Israel and came over daily to stock cupboards and refrigerators of a family that lost relatives suddenly and tragically in an attack. When one family member expressed their appreciation to him, he replied, “You will get used to my face. I have committed myself to that every week. I will deliver food and stock your home until the youngest orphan turns 18 years old.”

People like Rami Levy are Sarri’s inspiration. She says that just like the many incredible people who gave of themselves despite not knowing her – including her hospital visitors (“The Arab-Israeli politics that we hear about in the news do not exist in the hospital,” she explains, “It was such a pleasure to welcome anyone who came to visit me”) – we must keep “recognizing that we are all responsible for each other, and that those directly impacted by terrorism, injury, or the loss of a loved one deserve no less than our very best.”

Each spring, Strength to Strength brings a group of terror survivors to New York City as part of its mission of healing for their Young Ambassadors Program.” The participants of the annual trip are between the ages of 15-20 and lost either a parent or immediate family member in a terrorist attack, or were injured themselves. The teens hail from around the globe including (but not limited to): Algeria, Argentina, Colombia, England, France, Israel, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Spain, Uganda and the United States.

Sarri explains that in addition to meeting with community and political leaders, the teens embark on a tour, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Tribute Center, SONY Technology Labs, a museum, FAO Schwartz, NY Sky Ride and the Empire State Building. The trip aims to bring together those affected by terrorism in solidarity, to be able to support and comfort one another and build a global peer support group where the participants are in touch long after the program finishes.

“Restaurants, companies and individual donors contribute their resources to make these trips not only possible, but absolutely incredible,” Sarri says. “The goal is to ensure a week filled with exciting and fun activities combined with meetings with leaders. We want to empower these teens to take their personal experiences of trauma and share them with each other to bring about healing.”

For more information about how you can support those affected by terrorism, visit Strength to Strength

**(An earlier version of this article appeared on my Huffington Post blog. The above has been updated and revised with new information.)**


Fifteen Minutes with Fredrik: The Dynamic Realtor of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing NY

Paul Seibert, Fredrik Eklund of Million Dollar Listing New York

What you should know is that Fredrik makes everything worth tuning into, with his “high kicks,” his blazing energy, dedication to work and attentiveness to others. Last season, his candor was on full display when he opened about trying to have a child with his partner Derek and revealed that their surrogate (who was carrying twins) had suffered a devastating miscarriage. After an emotional and tearful journey, Fredrik says he is enjoying watching the current season which is a much lighter and entertaining one so far.

We only had fifteen minutes in a really jam-packed day, but Fredrik and I caught up to discuss Season 6 of Million Dollar Listing New York:

Fredrik Eklund, Steve Gold, Ryan Serhant


How do you feel about the new dynamic this season? We see a slightly different trio now that the show is focused on you, Ryan Serhant and Steve Gold.


I knew Louis (former cast mate) was not going to continue on the show and production was searching for a replacement. I was always pushing for Steve to join us because he’s so handsome, so funny and such a great broker. When we’re filming i don’t know what the others film unless I’m with them, but we’re off working separately and being filmed. Each season, when the show is airing, I don’t pay as much attention as I am this season.

I’m really into what they are doing. When we were doing press interviews at the beginning of the season, I felt that we are all so different on a personal level, but we are all the same in terms of real estate. You will see though: It gets very intense towards the end of the season when we’re all in Paris for my 40th birthday celebration. We do have different personalities and there will be arguments. It gets a little rocky, but I am proud of all of them as I’m watching this season.


Do you guys hang out off camera?


While it’s airing, it’s easier to hang out than when we’re filming. While we’re filming, they want to capture those things like the drama, but we are friends. Steve is more shy than he comes off and I like that about him. The audience is realizing what I’ve always known, that despite being this intense, assertive broker who is great at his job and focused on the profession, Steve is a really kind person and also a shy guy.
Fredrik’s high kick


You’re selfmade and you seem very humble. You brought up gentrificationto a board on the last episode. Prior to that, you were talking to everybody in the neighborhood and trying to get insight into their histories there. I found that to be very down to earth and very in touch.


At the end of the day, it’s about my upbringing. I grew up in a country, within a society, in a family where none of these things mattered (NY real estate). Kindness, friendship, nature and health were important things. Living here is a big contrast. The buildings are taller, there’s a lot of neon and I’m in a cut-throat business. What I do professionally makes me consumed with making money. There are those polar opposites within me which make for an internal battle. You can easily be fooled by money and glitz, but I feel like everyone is the same really. I see that when I speak to people. In my heart, it doesn’t really matter.


Bravo TV, Derek and Fredrik


I know that you had a fertility journey and I went through infertility myself so it resonated, the crazy highs and lows and a miscarriage as well. I remember when I thought I would never have kids. I think viewers appreciated hearing your story and it was very brave of you to open up. I feel it will happen for you (as it eventually and miraculously did for me) and I’m wondering how you think having a child will impact your career?


I’m very emotionally prepared to professionally handle it. I have so much to be thankful for in my career and I’m not afraid about anything professionally changing when I have a child. I’m in charge and I don’t question my abilities. Of course, children and family will change a lot of things, but I’ve been waiting for it for so long that I’ll welcome it.



I saw you just put out a single called “It Gets Better.”


It was an old demo of a song I always loved years back and I went to LA and recorded it in a studio. I wanted to have a lot of fun with it and enjoyed filming and then Bravo was filming that as well for the new show I am doing with Bethenny. Well, I can’t really discuss Bethenny and my spinoff yet, but I will share that one detail. Part of the proceeds from the song will go to the It Gets Better Foundation, so I am in touch with them about things we can do together. The whole idea of the single cover is that it’s me as a 7 or 8 year old with green hair. I felt different back then and just odd on the outside because of a lot that was going on with me on the inside. I wish I could tell Little Fredrik that everything would turn out great…that I would have Derek and this career., Fredrik Eklund and Bethenny Frankel


You and Bethenny seem to have a great dynamic and we see her this season on MDLNY and you on RHONY.


I stayed with her in the Hamptons this past weekend and I’m very close to her. I now consider her a very real, real, friend. She’s a lot of everything. She’s very fast, her brain works in quick ways and I’ve told Derek: I feel younger with her. She’s fun – she really is fun!


You mentioned that you are honing in on what the other guys are doing as you watch this season. What is one thing you see yourself do that you would like to do better? What would you like to see from Ryan and Steve?


I was told that this season has the highest ratings of MDLNY seasons so far, so whatever is happening has brought viewers. I just wish I could see a little more of the personal stories. There’s a big focus this season on how we do our jobs, but I want to know more about what’s going on personally with the others. I know there’s a lot more coming toward the end of this season.

You’ll see some drama and conflict that plays out in Paris when we all go there for my 40th birthday celebration. What people love about this show and what they want to see more of is what drives us, what is it that makes everyone work so hard. I wish we could go deeper and explore that drive. I find Ryan and Emilia’s relationship so interesting, so I wish we could see more of that too. There may have been that decision from production to focus more on real estate this season, and in either case, more people are tuning in. I felt like I had so much fun filming this season and I feel so happy that I’ve come to this point in my heart. I’m watching it and I feel like there’s this joy coming from the me I see onscreen. It looks like I’m having a lot of fun. It was more of an uphill thing for me in the past and you really see that in prior seasons. This season is light and I feel good. As for what I would change about myself…I don’t know if I want to change anything from what I watch back this season. I just want to be the best in the moment.

Fredrik Eklund stars on Million Dollar Listing New York and will also star with Bethenny Frankel in the upcoming Bravo show Bethenny and Fredrik, premiering 2/6/18.

Special thanks to Richard H., Elie S., Rachel K., Melissa B. and Ari G.

Bravo TV, Uncategorized

‘The Elephant in the Pahhhluhhr’: The Controversy & Intrigue Surrounding #SouthernCharm

(An earlier version of this ran on Huffington Post, June 13th, 2017. The following article is a revised and updated version.)

BRAVO TV, NBCUniversal

When Southern Charm began airing on Bravo in March of 2014, it took a while for viewership to make an impact for the network. By season 2 however, a rapt audience had tuned in to the drama that played out between privileged Southerners while a disapproving matriarch tutted about improprieties and a former Real World star begged the “Southern Gents” to settle down. The show, now approaching its 5th season, is currently popular enough for Bravo to have introduced a spinoff that just aired (Relationshep, about cast member Shep Rose, a ladies’ man looking for long term love – allegedly). The newer Southern Charm Savannah is another offshoot of the original. It premiered on May 8th, 2017 and Season 2 is filming now.


It is no surprise that shows about privileged white people in the South have garnered criticism and sparked wild rumors to make heads roll (a much-debated Page Six blind item referred to one Southern Charm costar’s “negrobilia,” a prized collection of artwork by black slaves. Of course, speculation abounds that the item was planted by a conniving adversary).

Many viewers have overtly stated in the comments sections of articles about the original SC – set in Charleston – that these people don’t seem to do very much for a living, yet have impressive wealth. The implication isn’t something that needs to be stated outright, though of course it is brought up periodically: Some of the cast members descended from plantation owners who kept slaves.

One female costar from a “prominent family” actually has an ancestor who was an outspoken slavery proponent and advocate. Despite her family name garnering respect in the South, her lack of riches as compared to the wealth of her cast mates, and her unconventionally rebellious ways, perpetually elicit scorn from the above-pictured matriarch. (Photo Source: Reality Tea)
Brought into question about the franchise is the question of: Just how “woke” are these individuals? If you’re not a Millennial or someone who keeps up with the Urban Dictionary, “Woke” is a political term of black origin referring to awareness of social and racial justice issues. The hashtag #StayWoke is a popular one. So where does Southern Charm fall on the Woke Scale?

Sexism and double standards for women have also been brought up by critics in connection with the franchise and thoughts on this vary today. Here we are prior to the start of Southern Charm’s Season 5 (and Southern Charm Savannah’s Season 2): Viewers hone in on specific words used, things left unsaid, issues that are ignored and political sentiments tweeted out by cast members (including a barrage of tweets by cast mate Thomas Ravenel, including one directed at Bravo honcho Andy Cohen that has since been deleted). A contingent has expressed feeling offended by certain cast members’ actions, yet manage to return and tune in each  season…despite protest. This attests to what we observe time and again with Bravo shows and those airing on other cable networks: the compelling nature of material that provokes ire.


Both Southern Charm and its Savannah offshoot have struck viewers as exuding an “all boys club” vibe. While it is impossible to pin that on production, some insiders (who requested anonymity) have speculated that Haymaker executives (both founders who sit at the company’s helm are male) – who originally packaged the show as Southern Gentlemen – have a “boys will be boys” mentality,

According to writer Amy Feinstein of  “Southern Gentlemen turned into Southern Charm when Bravo said that the show needed some women in the cast and not just as accessories and dates for the ‘gentlemen.’ So Cameran Eubanks, Jenna King, and eventually, Kathryn Calhoun Dennis were added in to round out the cast.”

bible thomas SC

The “Bible” for Southern Gentlemen. From Amy Feinstein of “Initially, Southern Charm executive producers Whitney Sudler-Smith and Bryan Kestner wanted to do a show set in Charleston that would highlight the life of an upper-crust Peter Pan in the Holy City. They put together a promotional video for a show that would have been called Southern Gentlemen. In the Southern Gentlemen video, Thomas Ravenel and Shep Rose talk about their life before Southern Charm.”

Feinstein is referring to the first season of the original Southern Charm in her quote above. However, viewers had a lot to say about the most recent seasons of that show and its Savannah offshoot.
On Southern Charm Savannah, Ashley Borders was essentially slut-shamed for golfing in her one-piece bathing suit. While cast mate Louis Oswald played too, his participation was minimized and given little credence by cast mates. Producers often get thrown under the bus for what we see on camera, but how much should we really be blaming on them versus the cast members they spotlight?
The answer to that may be subjective and personal as well as dependent on how real you consider reality TV to be. Despite Season One (of Southern Charm Savannah) airing as recently as 2017, we have a long way to go when it comes to the “blame game” and expectations for women versus men. Additionally, this is maximized by the old fashioned concept of Southern propriety and the notions attached.

While it would be nice for Haymaker and Bravo to bring Ashley back for her “redemption season”, the rumor (based on those who recently spotted the cast filming and captured photos) is that she will not be returning as a full time cast member.


The Twittersphere has often been abuzz with speculation about how Kathryn Calhoun Dennis, the ginger-haired vixen of the original Southern Charm, has been scrutinized for her “bad behavior” (a subjective term) much more so than cast mates Thomas Ravenel and Shep Rose. Neither gent has been depicted as an angel (Shep’s drinking and impulse control were issues brought up last season), but there’s the contention that the “playboys” get away with a mere slap on the wrist. The idea of having children out of wedlock is also likely seen as the most shocking of offenses for a Southern gal, but we have to wonder if matriarch Patricia Altschul remembers that Thomas Ravenel, who she is visibly fond of, fathered Kathryn’s children.


Ned Rinalducci, Ph.D. is a professor living in Savannah and teaching there at Armstrong State University. As a Political Sociologist, he also researches and examines religious and ethnic political movements and cultural identity. He writes on Islam, religious politics, ethnic politics, and ethnic nationalism. Every summer he teaches a pop culture course that focuses on reality television and last year, he assigned his class a show that was filmed in their own city, Southern Charm Savannah.

He explains: “Even before I started watching Southern Charm Savannah, I gave assignments in a summer pop culture class where we examine race, class and gender through reality TV. What we note is that it’s always done in a stereotypical way to really drive the narrative they’re trying to deliver. A large portion of Savannah is actually African American so Savannah viewers said: ‘this isn’t about Savannah. This is about rich, entitled white guys.’”

“The majority of the population here is not represented by this show. There definitely are circles where the social hierarchies are stressed, but most people living here are not a part of that. It is very real though – I have been in Savannah for 18 years and I’ll never be a ‘Savannian’ because I wasn’t born here and my family is not from Savannah. Southern Charm does what so many reality TV shows do: There are story arcs and narratives about characters and the shows exaggerate things like gender stereotypes (we see that with the original Southern Charm, the greater expectations upon women to be proper), social class and race. On some level, this makes people connect to the characters and it’s disconcerting – It’s reality television, but it’s not real.”

“Last summer, I had my students really examine how race, class and gender were depicted on Southern Charm Savannah. They looked at signs of Southern culture and discussed whether it seemed authentic. My wife, who is a true Southerner, saw part of an episode where Catherine hosted a bridge party in the hopes of embracing an old tradition. She said to me ‘Nobody plays bridge anymore!’ I thought that was funny because my own mom, a Northerner, actually plays bridge!”


Troy McEady of the podcasts Emotionally Broken Psychos (he has co-hosted with Molly McAleer) and EBP’s The Smush Room (which he alone hosts) admits that being a black, gay American male does not prevent him from watching Southern Charm and Southern Charm Savannah. McEady feels that bigotry stares you in the face with Savannah, whereas on the Charleston show there’s an “underlying sentiment.”

He elaborates: “Kathryn comes from a long bloodline of people that owned huge plantations in the South. We’ve been watching Charleston long enough that we’re almost used to it – as gross as that is to say. It’s not overt, but it’s still uncomfortable. With Savannah, they used it in a sort of ‘cutesy’ way last season. Catherine (not to be confused with Kathryn of Charleston) talks about how it’s uncouth to discuss where money comes from, but we know where that money comes from – owners of large plantations. It’s a weird thing to lightly dance around – because it’s embarrassing.”

One Savannah character from last season (who is likely also not returning — based upon cast trip photos that recently surfaced) used the Yiddish “S word” to joke around with Daniel. McEady observes: “In that case, it was social awkwardness and social unawareness when it comes to race. This is also a character who needs to be more self-aware. The statements came across as boldly racist. However, it was almost less offensive coming from him because he seemed not to possess the appropriate thought processes.”

McEady adds: “I’m hoping that things turns around with Southern Charm Savannah. It feels like those characters were uninteresting for the most part. The things Bravo used as filler (in Season One) were there because there wasn’t much to show. I’m not surprised that there’s an upcoming Season 2 because Bravo decided to give it another chance, but I doubt there will be a Season 3 unless there are major changes. Personally, now I’m invested so I’ve got to watch regardless. Unless they shake up the cast in some way, these people are uninteresting – with the exception of Ashley…and perhaps Daniel. While watching, I actually had to remind myself what was happening in terms of story lines. There didn’t seem to be too much there.”

When it comes to that question of being “woke,” McEady has some thoughts on the entire franchise:“Bravo has found this sweet spot with Southern Charm – or what they think of as a sweet spot – to address the racism and sexism. ‘Let’s make it not seem so inappropriate that Thomas comes from a family of slave owners by putting cutesy music behind it.’ Patricia, the matriarch, comes across as a sexist woman. She dismisses what the men do and how they treat women while requiring women to be prim and proper. I really don’t think any of them are terrible people but it seems some (particularly the younger cast members across both Southern Charms) have been sheltered and are clueless.”
Fortunately for Bravo, there are many conservative viewers who are not harping on political correctness and are less sensitive about issues of concern to liberals (AKA “Snowflakes,” a beautiful phenomenon of nature that is supposed to be an insult?). Southern Charm Savannah‘s viewership was significantly smaller than the original, yet it still managed to rise steadily from week to week and it may be in part to those who are unfazed by things that “trigger” others.
“We live in a political climate where everybody has a voice,” says McEady, “You can relate to something and learn something about a black person without being a black person… Everybody has sat at a dinner table where someone of an earlier generation said something that resulted in flying tableware. There is a lot of weight added to things that people say today. It’s very heavy and it is scary to speak your mind – You just have to use discretion.”
And perhaps, that is where the viewers come in as well, the many “voices” weighing in via social media. Southern Charm is akin to that awkward Thanksgiving dinner where we all sit down hoping we can effectively see one another’s  perspectives. It is the reason why many of us keep coming back to the table. The right amount of controversy sparks discussion while an excess turns people away. Haymaker knows just how to walk this tightrope so we stay tuned in.

Men Don’t Make Passes… ?

versace eyewear ad

FASHIONGONEROGUE.COM, Versace Eyewear advertisement 

The frames suited my face and seemed suitable for that hiatus — only it’s now been a decade since I bought those frames (I have no idea what happened to them), I currently rotate between several modern models, and the dryness has not improved. I’ve come to own my glasses. They’re my trademark accessory, but it certainly took some time to make peace with my bespectacled self.

When I first started wearing glasses full time, I was single and dating up a storm on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I was about to go on a blind date one day when I had a flashback to an old boyfriend — from my contact days (one who hadn’t seen me in glasses) — who had stated adamantly, “Men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.” I turned to a good looking guy in my building hallway and asked, “I’m about to go on a date, should I ditch the glasses?”

“Are you kidding?” he replied. “You look great in your glasses!.” Then he winked and while the date didn’t go well that evening, the hallway guy later tracked me down and we went out.

Unattached again a few months later, I asked a male friend, one who always told it to me straight, “Do you think glasses will be an impediment? You know how guys can be so shallow… “

“With some girls maybe,” he said, waving away my concern dismissively, “ but glasses really suit you. I would trim your hair a bit though. It’s really getting too long and scraggly.”

And then one day, I ran into the old boyfriend (!), the one from my contact lens days who had quoted me the famous line about men, glasses and their passes.

“You look great! So good to see you,” he said. We engaged in a 30-minute conversation about life, how much had changed since we last spoke. As we said goodbye, he said “It was really great to see you and again, you look fantastic.”

“But I’ve got to ask you,” I said, pointing to my eyes, “I remember something you said.” I reminded him of the line, the line that had stuck.

“Oh that! Nah, I don’t know what I was saying.”

Now, those are the positives. There would be male friends who advised me to take a photo for Jdate, the Jewish online dating site, sans spectacles. There was the male friend who said “Yeah, I definitely like you better without glasses” and then there was the Seinfeld episode. I forget whether it was George who asked Jerry or Jerry who asked George, while pointing to a window of an optometry center “Do you think these women are attractive?” One of them replied “They would be without the glasses.” Is that how men think? I wondered.

So I tortured myself. I wore one contact lens on dates and let me tell you, my prescription is pretty horrific. What ensued would usually be a day long migraine from the resulting vertigo. Beauty — or mere shallowness — certainly came with a price.

By the time I met my husband, a man who had spotted me in a crowded room years earlier without glasses, I was wearing my glasses all the time and had given up on that one-contact gamble (although I did end up doing it again for our wedding). On our first date, the rapport was easy and the conversation flowed. Glasses, no glasses, it didn’t matter and of course, that’s really how it should be, but as recently as last year, when I took a picture I turned to my husband and asked, “Should I remove the glasses?”

“No, the glasses make you look cool.”

Conversely, when I took a passport photo recently I was told I MUST remove my glasses and when I took a professional headshot for business purposes, I was also told to take them off so people “can really see your blue eyes.”

Just yesterday a woman in synagogue approached me and said, “I’ve met you before, I remember you from those glasses.” Do I want glasses to be my identifying feature, I thought for a moment, something that is not even a part of my anatomy? I’d love it if people remembered my God-given baby blues…

“I LOVE those glasses!” She added. “Love them.”

I decided, hey, why not?

And if you think men won’t make a pass, they’ll take a pass, you can kiss my a —

I’ll keep my glasses.

At this point, I feel naked without them.