Andy Cohen is looking back on the fifteenth anniversary of the Real Housewives. In an interview with Variety, the host explained how his favorite soap opera inspired the franchise, which is still going strong. He'll elaborate in the upcoming E! documentary series For Real: The Story of Reality TV.
When reality met rich people's lives in the first edition, The Real Housewives of Orange County, RH EP Cohen knew he'd struck gold. He explained:
There’ve been a few touchpoints in The Real Housewives of Orange County' that really cemented it. That eviction was really big, because it was, again, reflective of what was happening in the housing market and the economy. I always thought it was a sociological time capsule of the nouveau riche.
The women's proximity to one another was another familiar element. Former Bravo programming exec Cohen dished:
As I’ve spoken about endlessly, I love soap operas. I was a big 'All My Children' fan. And one of the things that attracted me to the idea of doing this show, the real version of 'Desperate Housewives,' was that these women all lived in the same neighborhood. Jeana [Keough] and Vicki [Gunvalson] lived a couple of houses down, they all literally went to the same tennis club. And I was like, 'This is Pine Valley.'
But for me, when it really clicked, and really started becoming like a soap opera was when I found out: 'Oh my god, Jeana is separating from her husband! What do the kids think? Is she going to start dating now? What do her friends think?'
These are the reactions you have about a friend or someone you care about. But it’s also the reaction you have when you’re watching 'All My Children,' and Erica [Susan Lucci] says, 'I want a divorce.' That was a huge moment for me. I was like, 'Oh my god! This is a soap opera, this is going to go on forever.' And now, 15 years later, we are still talking about it.