What comes to mind when you think of conflict, chaos, extravagance and treachery? Hollywood? Politics? Perhaps Ramona, Teresa and Bethenny of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives” franchise?
Or Ivanka, Melania, Kellyanne and Omarosa of the Real White House?
It’s getting harder and harder to separate reality shows from reality.
Has Countess LuAnn jetted off to Cancun? Is Melania at Mar-a-Lago? And how did Donald Trump’s controversial “The Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault wind up in the White House, recently informing PBS’ “Frontline” that, “Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump?”
For liberals and some moderate Republicans baffled by how Trump was elected, I suggest watching “The Real Housewives” series. It’s no accident that the franchise is such a cash cow for Bravo. Network executive Andy Cohen recently called Trump a “first season Real Housewife,” and told NBC’s Seth Meyers that “there are many parallels” between the Housewives and Trump’s election.
Why would anyone enjoy watching narcissistic, entitled brats living in gated communities go at each other? For the same reason Trump is in the White House: Whether in movies, on TV or stage, we can’t get enough conflict, drama and chutzpah. I’ve learned that without constant conflict in my plays, people tune out. It’s just human nature. Ask any actor: The juiciest role is the villain.
No one knows this better than Trump. Even at 70, he embodies the modern TV reality star. “The Apprentice” followed the same script as his election, knocking out competitors one by one. Whatever your politics, it’s undeniable that the Trump presidency has been virtually nonstop conflict and drama. That’s no accident — Trump knows how to exploit people’s craving for spectacle and suspense. And it’s paid off for him bigly (big league?), in entertainment and politics.
We live in a short-attention span world, and we’re not going back anytime soon. If Democrats nominate another boring Al Gore, John Kerry or, yes, Hillary Clinton in 2020, they deserve whatever they get. I’m not saying it’s fair, or even right — but it’s definitely reality.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.