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'Real Housewives' is coming to Utah. Why should I care?

By Jacob Klopfenstein, | Updated - Nov. 18, 2019 at 6:54 p.m. | Posted - Nov. 18, 2019 at 4:18 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Bravo’s massively popular “Real Housewives” reality show franchise is on its way to Utah next year.

The reality show centers around rich women, their personal lives, and their dramatic clashes in various areas of the U.S. and around the world. It began in 2006 with its first iteration, “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” which is now in its 14th season with over 250 episodes.

The Salt Lake City version, due out in 2020, will be the 10th spinoff, including the original Orange County series.

Bravo TV’s Andy Cohen, who will serve as the executive producer for the series, announced “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” over the weekend at the network’s BravoCon event. He said the series will feature “an exclusive community of people who have very successful businesses who live in their own universe,” according to The Wrap.

“We’ve always tried to choose a city that has completely unique personalities and we also try to throw a little curveball now and then. Pick somewhere you weren’t expecting,” Cohen said, as reported by The Wrap. “It is gorgeous and I think you’re going to be really surprised and intrigued by the group of women we’ve found.”

Here’s how the franchise has become so popular, and why people had mixed feelings about the show’s announcement:

A reality TV behemoth

“Real Housewives” has included shows set in New York City, Atlanta, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Beverly Hills, Miami, Maryland and Dallas.

It’s also spawned multiple spinoff series, including Beverly Hills spinoff “Vanderpump Rules” and Atlanta spinoff “Don’t Be Tardy,” both currently in their seventh seasons.

Other parts of the world have also been christened with their own versions of “Real Housewives,” including Greece, France, Hungary and Thailand to name a few.

Tapping into popular culture

The series was a response to ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” one of the most popular shows in the U.S. in 2006, according to Entertainment Weekly. Viewers became invested in the lives of the fictional characters on that show, and that interest carried over to real-life versions in “Real Housewives,” the magazine reported.

It started as a behind-the-scenes look at some southern California wealthy women and their families, Entertainment Weekly said.

But as the show went on and became more popular, various housewives went from cast members of the show to outright celebrities, with their personal lives and relationships spilling over into popular culture outside the episodes, according to the magazine.

Is the show’s notoriety too much?

Despite its popularity, the show hasn’t been exempt from heavy criticism.

Following filming for the second season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” a husband of one of the housewives, Russell Armstrong, died by suicide, according to Entertainment Weekly. He was depicted in the show as having anger issues and was accused of domestic violence by one of the cast members.

By the end of the season, Armstrong had separated from his wife, Taylor Armstrong, and his death occured two weeks prior to the season two premiere.

Armstrong's family criticized the show and threatened to sue Bravo if the network didn't edit Armstrong out of the second season. Ultimately, some edits were made and Bravo ran a special discussing the suicide during the season premiere.

Renowned feminist and magazine editor Gloria Steinem has also criticized the series as a “minstrel show for women."

“It is women, all dressed up and inflated and plastic surgeried and false bosomed and incredible amount of money spent, not getting along with each other. Fighting with each other,” she told Cohen on “Watch What Happens Live,” according to E! News. “I feel like it's manufactured, that the fights between them are manufactured and they're supposed to go after each other in a kind of conflicting way.”

Asked to respond to Steinem’s comments, author Roxane Gay countered that she thought the show was good for women.

"I think that the Real Housewives franchises allow women to be their truest selves. We see the mess, we see their amazing friendships and everything in between," Gay said, according to E! News. "When women are allowed to be their fullest selves, that's the most feminist thing we can do."

Continuing the momentum

Even with the massive amount of content associated with “Real Housewives” that could be overwhelming for the uninitiated, the series remains extremely popular and still sometimes finds itself at the top of cable TV ratings, according to TV ratings tracking website Zap2It.

The Orange County and Beverly Hills versions of the show are both listed in IMDb’s top 50 most popular reality TV shows.

Bravo’s official announcement about the series acknowledges the influence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah, but says the series will be “about so much more than religion,” according to The Wrap.

“In the majestic mountains of Utah is a hidden social circle made up of successful women who have created their own paradise filled with luxury homes, shopping sprees and multi-million-dollar businesses and brands,” the announcement said, as reported by The Wrap.

Neither Bravo nor Cohen elaborated on what the “hidden social circle” or “exclusive community” the series will center on is. No other details about the show, including the cast, have been announced yet.

Lukewarm fan reactions

Fans of the franchise had mixed social media reactions to the announcement.

Many Twitter users replied to Bravo’s announcement tweet wishing the network had instead chosen Chicago as a new location for the series. Others wished that Bravo would have instead announced reviving a previous version of the series, such as “The Real Housewives of Miami.”

However, other users were excited about the show, with one person tweeting “I absolutely cannot wait to watch these queens get messy.”

Are you curious to see what the Beehive State’s housewives will be up to, or will you be skipping the show?

Contributing: Jordan Ormond,

Jacob Klopfenstein

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