On Saturday, when the stress dream known as the 2020 election finally came to a close, people across the U.S. took to the streets and social media in celebration, "FDT" blasting the whole way.
Well, people minus a few million Trump supporters, and some stars of Bravo's Real Housewives franchises.
In a recent Instagram post, Sarah Galli, host of the popular Bravocentric podcast Andy's Girls, shared a list of every cast member of the Real Housewives franchises who had yet to acknowledge the results of the presidential election. Much in the same way that Trump and his co-conspirators have refused to acknowledge the Biden/Harris win, many of the Housewives are either remaining completely mum on election results or insinuating voter fraud has occurred, echoing the patently false accusations coming from the Trump administration.
Per Galli's list, the Housewives who have yet to say a thing include:
- Real Housewives of New Jersey's Teresa Giudice, Melissa Gorga, Dolores Catania, and Jennifer Aydin
- Real Housewives of New York's Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan
- Real Housewives of Orange County's Emily Simpson, Gina Kirschenheiter, Elizabeth Vargas, Shannon Beador, and Kelly Dodd
- Real Housewives of Dallas' D'Andra Simmons, Stephanie Hollman, Kameron Wescott, and Kary Brittingham *
All cast members from Real Housewives of Atlanta, Real Housewives of Potomac, and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills publicly showed their support for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (some more directly than others), and RHOD's Brandi Redmond left a comment about acknowledging the results and clarified she's not a Trump donor on Galli's post. VICE reached out to the Housewives mentioned on Galli’s list but did not hear back.
"The purpose of the post truly wasn’t to just list MAGA Housewives," Galli told VICE. "It was to unpack who was essentially ignoring the election results knowing that silence could imply they’re in agreement with the idea that our election was a fraud…This is not about who they voted for. This is about whether or not they'd support country over party, at the lowest possible level of saying 'this election took place, and someone won.'"
"It's always fascinating to see which HW's beg off of talking politics because they either don't want their political views to be widely known or don't want to alienate fans," Galli continued. "But this wasn't about that. This was about a political party and sitting President trying to undo the very nature of our democracy. I wanted to know who was comfortable with that stance. It just so happens that the vast majority, if not all, of those listed are seen as politically conservative, or 'not politically active' except for their publicly available political contributions."
As Galli noted, this isn't a typical year for the U.S. In 2020, silence equals complicity around the rise of fascism, the murder of Black and brown people at the hands of law enforcement, and the death of 241,000 people from COVID-19. Reality TV stars aren't immune to the issues that have plagued the country this year, and are being called on by fans and critics to use their platform for public good. It's easy to write off the privileged and often ill-informed ladies of the Real Housewives as unworthy of our concern or too dim to take seriously. However, experts have found that these Housewives have an impact on the way people behave. This is a country that elected a racist reality TV star as president, after all.
As Galli notes, it's Black Housewives from RHOP and RHOA, including Porsha Williams, Wendy Osefo, and Gizelle Bryant, who have used their platforms to speak on racism and the election most openly, carrying the responsibility of using their voice to help shape the country into a more progressive direction—a weight their mostly white colleagues choose to not carry. The Black cast members have managed to post their outfits and shoes as usual as well as election info and support for Biden and Harris, while many of their white colleagues’ silence has only further illustrated the huge divide that exists among the franchises. (Franchises like RHOC and RHOD are made up of mostly or entirely conservative cast members.)
"These women, all of whom are white or could be considered white-presenting, seem perfectly fine with Black Housewives doing all the emotional and physical labor," said Galli, "both in getting people to the polls and acknowledging that what happened happened, and dealing with any possible pushback. I find that to be a great measure of laziness and toxicity, and above all, privilege."
Galli and a group of other Bravo podcasters and fan accounts recently led a boycott of RHOC over the continued casting of Kelly Dodd, who joined the MAGA camp after becoming romantically involved with—and recently marrying—Fox News correspondent Rick Leventhal. Dodd regularly repeats anti-mask rhetoric that's a threat to public safety, and has lobbed nasty critiques against the Black Lives Matter movement.
Galli believes that "differing views" are essential—that the Housewives who were among the 70 million who voted for Trump still form a part of this country's demographics and therefore have every right to be represented on the series as part of a cross-section of America's wealthy.
But this is a new era for fandom and politics. There is no place that politics does not infiltrate, and fans everywhere (particularly Black and non-Black POC fans) are demanding that the celebrities they support take a stand. With Dodd, they went directly for her employment and demanded that Bravo do better overall about the messaging they're allowing Bravolebrities to spread. It won’t be surprising to see a similar reaction unfold among fans if the Housewives on Galli’s list remain silent.
"At the end of the day, these are women with enormous platforms," Galli said. "They have the right to say or not say whatever they want, as I have the right to share my perspective on why some of the silence really counts. Ultimately, these women are an enormous part of our lives, not only as a TV show, but also as a springboard for us to understand ourselves and each other. That brings with it a lot of power and value."