That’s what the producers of “The Real Housewives of New York” are learning after trying to turn their guilty pleasure of a show — which follows the misadventures of vapid Upper East Side ladies who occasionally take food with their lunch — into a televised diversity and inclusion seminar.
They recruited Eboni K. Williams, 37, the first black cast member, with the sole purpose of having her preach to these white women about their privilege and inherent racism.
They wanted Ibram X. Kendi in a dress.
“They have a mess on their hands,” said a source close to production. “At the time they were casting this, they thought it would be a good idea to bring on a black woman to school these women on race.”
In other words, the producers were looking to exploit the tenuous race relations and division in our society for ratings. Of course, it backfired.
“By the time it aired, our country was in a different place and the producers f–ked themselves,” the insider told The Post.
The result has been a resounding snoozefest. In one episode, Ramona Singer clashed with Williams, who tried to “connect” with Singer through politics. Singer, 64, said she didn’t want to talk about “race, religion or creed” — an idea that was once considered good manners and conventional wisdom.
After all, no one I know tunes into any “Real Housewives” franchise to learn about complicated, heated societal issues. They want real estate porn, conspicuous consumption, vanity pop-star careers and cat fights. They watch to see who is leading the great race to the Betty Ford clinic that season.
It is Bravo escapism pure and simple, not a PBS documentary. And boy can we use a little escapism nowadays.
But the producers pulled a grand bait and switch on the loyal fan base, who thought they were ordering a pair of Jimmy Choos from Bergdorf but instead were delivered Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” book.
The proof is in the numbers. The April 6 episode of “RHONY” reportedly had only 764,000 live viewers, which is the lowest in the franchise’s history.
Amid the plummeting ratings, the Season 13 reunion has been postponed and production of the next season has ceased until January. Things are in limbo, said the source.
Rightfully, fans are voicing their displeasure online about the direction of the show, calling Williams “preachy.”
The source said the show’s alums and current housewives were rolling their eyes at the mess it’s become.
“There’s frustration behind the scenes.”
Williams, a lawyer and TV host, isn’t necessarily to be blamed.
“Eboni is great. She is just on the wrong show,” said the source.
Eboni is spunky and extremely intelligent. But she wasn’t pals with any of these women, many of whom have decades-long friendships. They move in different worlds. They clearly have different interests and values, something that has nothing to do with their different skin colors.
“Production is amping her up and telling her to address this, push Ramona on that. Don’t blame any of the girls: Blame the production and the casting choice.”
Williams has said she shouldn’t be the scapegoat for the dismal ratings. Rather, she has faulted the show’s producers for the way the show has been edited.
The source also notes that the newbie wasn’t the only bad casting choice. Leah McSweeney, 38, has also sunk the once-magic chemistry. “She’s like an angsty ’90s teenager: bratty and obnoxious. They could fix this easily by bringing back the core women.”
A show like “The Real Housewives” is not a mirror to the Big Apple. It’s a slice of a demographic, one that has big apartments, fancy cars and a fabulous lifestyle by old-guard standards. And it worked: Viewers have been eagerly pressed up against the window into this monied world since 2008.
I am not shedding tears for the “Housewives” cast. They will be fine as they continue their sometimes dubious business ventures and are worshipped any time they pop into their local gay bar.
It’s the industry that is ill. The entertainment bigs have continued to anoint themselves preachers instead of court jesters — their original role. If folks want to learn about race relations or white privilege, there are a million outlets for that. “The Real Housewives of New York” is the last place anyone goes looking for enlightenment. Unless one’s idea of enlightenment is a good plastic surgeon and a pricey bottle of champagne.
The show is committing suicide by wokism.