Shade and Loathing at BravoCon: Andy Cohen Addresses “Reality Reckoning,” Bethenny Frankel During First Panel

It was exactly 33 minutes into the first panel on the first day of BravoCon 2023 when Andy Cohen was asked about the current “reality reckoning” and the campaign against Bravo (and other networks’) treatment of talent led by former Real Housewives star Bethenny Frankel.

A schoolchildren’s chorus of “oooohs” came from the thousands-strong crowd who’d scored early seats for the Q&A session, almost all of whom responded as if Cohen were Harry Styles when he’d taken the stage at the top of his panel.

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“Can’t we talk about something fun?” he asked, instantly breaking the faux tension. “My thoughts are, as you can see here, Bravo and the shows on Bravo bring people so much joy and so much happiness — which is why we are all here, to have fun. That’s the place that I’m at.”

Rapturous applause put an end to that question, no doubt inspired by months of calls for a “reality union” by Frankel and a recent piece in Vanity Fair that featured some of the past Housewives talent taking issue with their time on the show. One particularly damning resurfaced allegation of racist remarks from former RHONY Ramona Singer was followed by her unceremonious drop from the BravoCon lineup.

As for the The Watch What Happens Live host, also an executive producer across the Real Housewives universe, he quite clearly went into this weekend expecting at least a few questions about criticisms of his franchise. One of his first comments onstage was praise for the phenomenon. “Without the Housewives, I wouldn’t be here,” said Cohen. “I have so much gratitude for them.”

Cohen’s hourlong Q&A, moderated by former Bravo star Jeff Lewis, was decidedly positive — save Lewis’ frequent barbs about certain Housewives’ economic status. “What is Monica [Garcia] doing on [The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City]?” he asked a visibly defensive Cohen. “She’s on food stamps, for fuck’s sake.” (I have no idea who this woman is, but she is literally somewhere in this building at this very moment, Mr. Lewis!)

Speaking of the Housewives, another fan asked Cohen which of them he’d let look over his children. “I’d let any Housewife babysit my kids,” he said. “They’re all fantastic mothers.”

If there are attendee concerns about any such “reality reckoning,” they were not immediately apparent during BravoCon’s first morning. Fans, many of them sporting shirts bedazzled with Housewives’ quotes and catchphrases or Cohen’s signature “Mazel,” let on nothing but delirious happiness. (They pump a lot of oxygen into these Las Vegas buildings, folks.)

“We are starting you guys off with a very messy, shady panel,” said Cohen just before wrapping his first of maybe a dozen planned appearances. “This is going to be quite a weekend, as you can see. And I just want to remind you that there are some people who are here alone. You are among like-minded people. You’re going to make friends.”

That kind sentiment probably doesn’t apply to me, but do keep returning to THR over the next few days for news, panel coverage and quite likely a cry for help.

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