Dallas, Fashion, & Reality TV: A Letter From the Editor

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As rumors of a forthcoming Real Housewives of Dallas franchise swirl, my discomfort with the television-ation of our city continues to grow. Production crews both large and small are invading even our most sacred social grounds these days, and I am reminded again and again of the fact that limelight is both exciting and unforgiving.


But first, a confession: I once was a Housewife superfan. Really.




Back in the early days of the show, I was captivated by the antics of Vicki and Jeana and Tamra, and later NeNe and Sheree and Kim.  They were sassy and vivacious, they threw amazing parties, lived in beautiful homes, and wore clothes that – for better or for worse – got my attention.  As time passed, however, these programs became less about lifestyle peek-a-boo and more about the pitting of women against each other in feuds both large and small.  A multi-episode arc about a drunken rant? Check. Manipulative alliances formed and broken in the space of a single evening? Check. And don’t even get me started on the dinner parties.  What was once delicious became distasteful to me.


Over the years, the number of shows exploiting this genre of “real life” antics grew, whether Housewife-affiliated or not. Further, many of these programs also clawed their way into the fashion world. Every other fledgling reality star, it seemed, was also a budding designer. From the now-infamous She By Sheree saga in Atlanta, to Alexis Couture in the OC and Lisa Vanderpump’s bedazzled Beverly Hills footwear, the list just keeps on growing.


About the same time, reality TV began its Dallas takeover in force. In came Bravo’s Most Eligible Dallas and Logo’s The A List: Dallas, not to mention CMT’s Texas Women, WE’s Texas Multi Mamas, and Style’s Big Rich Texas. As like follows like, several of these shows now have a strong presence on our local fashion scene. Courtney Kerr of Most Eligible is now in high demand as a fashion event hostess, and Big Rich Texas follows the Texas-sized egos involved in one of our city’s fashion-focused clubs. Just thinking about the latter gives me a nervous twitch.


But could there possibly be some upside to this invasion of our stylish privacy?


Because I love a good debate, and I know an expert in this field, I reached out to my friend Cynthia Smoot of Oh So Cynthia for an alternate perspective.


Known as an authority on all things local reality television-related, Cynthia first confirmed for me that there are no fewer than seven such programs currently showcasing our city (or recently wrapped), with an eighth in production as we speak. When it comes to the latest on the Real Housewives of Dallas, the expert is still unsure. She states, “I think it’s fifty-fifty. I am getting so many emails from readers who swear it’s happening, and just as many saying that it’s not [happening], that I’m not sure what is true.”


With this framework in place, I picked Cynthia’s brain on the possible reason for so many fashion tie-ins on these shows.


“It shouldn’t be surprising to see that, when these women gain some notoriety and develop an audience, there are plenty of manufacturers willing to partner with them to develop a line of ‘somethings’ to sell to their fans,” she asserted. “Women love clothes, jewelry, shoes, and handbags. These are natural items for [reality stars] to hawk.”


Her thoughts made sense to me. Further, I was heartened by the fact that she doesn’t think any Dallas-based reality-focused fashion lines are coming anytime soon. “None of the reality ‘stars’ from Dallas have been on for more than one season,” Cynthia explained. “They haven’t had enough time to develop their audience or a brand yet.”


With that comment in the “plus” column, I still couldn’t shake the aggravation that, in the larger scope of style, these shows are still propagating the “boots, bling, and big hair” Texas stereotype that so many of us wish to wipe from the face of the planet. Or at least from the face of cable TV. Leave it to Cynthia, however, to see an upside in that area as well.


“Whether you love these shows, or love to hate them, I feel like its great exposure for Dallas,” the blogger believes. “It makes our city seem fun, exciting, interesting, adventurous, glamorous, and outrageous – which it is! A lot of people hate the Texas stereotypes, but this is what gives Texans flavor and makes us unique and interesting to the rest of the world.”


Unique and interesting, huh? Or, perhaps, laughably stuck in the days of Southfork Ranch.


But maybe I’m the one being a stick-in-the-mud? I’d love to know what you think about this issue. Post a comment below or share this article for your friends to weigh in. We can also be reached through our Contact Page. As always, it’s your opinion which matters most.


My best to you,


Lisa Petty, Editor


(All photos, credit Sylvia Elzafon for DFW Style Daily)

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