Ready or not, it’s time to explore another of my favorite TV shows, Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live (WWHL), hosted by Andy Cohen. Andy used to just be some behind the scenes exec at Bravo, but now he’s a breakaway star.
The show is mostly focused on Bravo shows and stars, which works for me because I live for Bravo shows. The Real Housewives of Everywhere, Flipping Out, Bethenny Ever After, and other favorites. These are all “reality” shows; the stars don’t even notice that directors, producers and 6 cameras follow them around 24/7. When the shows air they all seem shocked to discover that they were being filmed. Oh wow, was that a camera crew behind me for the last 6 months? I had no idea. That’s just how real it is.
Like most people, I enjoy reality TV because it reminds me how lucky I am to have my semi-normal life. Unlike Real Housewives my friends don’t spontaneously start screaming at each other at the most inappropriate moment possible, or actually, at all. Jeff Lewis on Flipping Out enjoys demeaning and berating his staff non-stop and yet they stay loyal, presumably because they’re so enamored of being TV stars.
Andy has a set called The Clubhouse where he films his talk show. He interviews the “stars” of the shows mentioned above, as well as an eclectic mix of random people. Recently for example, he had Cloris Leachman. Cindy Lauper was another recent guest. Andy had a Facts of Life reunion a while back; he dusted off as many of the former stars as possible and tried to make them seem interesting. Mindy was still fat, Jo was still a lesbian (c’mon, how naive can you be?), Tootie was still adorable and Blair was still vaguely attractive in a fake kind of way.
Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos are regulars, as is Anderson Cooper, especially since he came out. Jimmy Fallon hangs in the Clubhouse now and then. Andy’s even hosted his mom as a special guest. It seems that the most important piece of appearing on WWHL is who you’re wearing, and fierce mile high shoes. Mostly Louboutin but Jimmy Choo sneaks in once in a while. You definitely can’t just schlep in there with your 9 West shoes; I think they have a fashion bouncer.
All the Bravo shows have reunions, some stretched out over 3 parts. Andy hosts them all, and tries to referee all the angry people shouting at each other and accusing each other of lying. At least one guest walks off stage in a huff and has to be brought back to the stage where everyone is supposed to respect certain boundaries. That lasts about 5 minutes. In one particularly memorable moment, one of the New Jersey Housewives pushed him out of her way and he landed unceremoniously on his butt. Fortunately he fell into the seat right behind him. These people mean business.
There are so many reasons I love Andy; first because we have so much in common. He’s Jewish, about my age and worships the pop culture of the 70s. He’s gay, and I’m a gay man trapped in the body of a straight woman (it’s complicated). We share a love of all things cheesy and lame.
Mostly I love Andy because he’s living the dream—the dream Gilda Radner captured so perfectly in The Judy Miller Show.
The Clubhouse is really just a slightly upscale version of a playroom. Andy’s traded Oreos for cocktails, but the concept is the same, and there are lots of fun toys everywhere. In addition to talk show antics, Andy has fun games, his three obsessions of the day, his jackhole of the day and of course his mazel of the day.
Andy is a brand, with his own action figure and an array of “Mazel” merchandise that makes him so endearingly Jewish. And even if he didn’t get paid a wad of money to do the show, I believe in my heart he would still get up and do it every day. And if he ever needs a guest host…I am ready, willing and able to step right in.