When Reality Television Meets Domestic Violence

However, the world of the Real Housewives is far from being a flawless paradise. Most of the women featured as “real” housewives lack self-awareness to a frightening degree. The housewives that are supposed to represent Orange County and New Jersey are incredibly upsetting, but like an ambulance chaser, I keep watching. However, the women on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” strike a different chord with me. First of all, most of these women aren’t even housewives. Many of them, like Lisa Vanderpump and Adrienne Maloof, are business moguls and hold more powerful societal positions than their husbands. Others, like Camille Grammer and Brandi Glanville, are dealing with the repercussions of divorce while learning to embrace their independence. Sure, most of the time these women are unnecessarily catty, but I somehow was able to look past that for the majority of this particular season due to the weighty subject matter.

Season two, which recently ended, was particularly fascinating due to its focus on domestic violence. Taylor Armstrong mystified audiences with her slow descent into madness as the truth unraveled about her emotionally and physically abusive husband, Russell. Audiences watched nervously as Taylor suffered severe, worsening nervous breakdowns every week, and tried desperately to convey to the other women how she was suffocating in an unhealthy marriage. She revealed that Russell had been attending marriage counseling with her to hopefully work through their problems. However, things just got progressively worse. About two weeks before season 2 premiered, the media was infiltrated with news that Russell Armstrong had committed suicide by hanging himself. Taylor revealed that had she not had cameras filming her every move, he also might have ended up killing her as well as their five year old daughter, since many domestic violence cases result in murder-suicides.

Taylor revealed that she grew up watching her father abuse her mother, so she was raised to believe that she did not deserve her own marital happiness. Walking away from such an unhealthy situation was a terrifying idea for Taylor since Russell completely broke down her confidence, leaving her too emotionally and physically weak to support herself. However, once he nearly blinded her by punching her in the eye, she finally realized how imperative it was for her to remove herself and her daughter from such a tumultuous situation. Soon after, Russell’s suicide occurred.

While I really loathe the idea that this show capitalizes on the cattiness of excessively privileged women, this season it definitely touched on important topics that need far more exposure. Domestic violence is such a sensitive subject, but it is a topic that needs to be discussed as often as possible. I certainly appreciate Bravo’s attempt to bring such a crucial issue into the light. Although these shows are often viewed for their over-top dramatics, they can also serve as platforms to raise awareness about issues such as domestic violence. Taylor and her daughter Kennedy are currently in therapy, and are learning that they actually deserve happiness. Love should never compromise safety.

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One Comment

  1. Reality and reality TV – Welcome to the Millenia’s 2nd Decade. Good piece. Keep an open mind.

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