Rethinking My Fascination With Reality TV in Light of Russell Armstrong’s Death

real_housewives_of_beverly_hills_season2_bravo.jpgOn Monday, “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” had its season premiere as scheduled. Initially, cable network Bravo had debated delaying the September 5 premiere of the reality show’s second season after one housewife’s husband–venture capitalist Russell Armstrong, 47–was found dead by an apparent suicide on August 16. Ultimately the show aired as scheduled, but Season 2 episodes will reportedly be re-edited somewhat.

Armstrong was a man who became well known in business circles for both good and questionable investment deals that resulted in both fortune and jail time over the years. As of last month, was the latest entity to file a lawsuit against Armstrong for misappropriation of funds to the tune of $1 million, according to People.

That lawsuit came on the heels of Armstrong’s wife, Taylor, filing for
divorce. Not only was the couple’s six-year union coming to an end, but
Taylor had cited physical and verbal abuse as the reason for the
separation. The couple have one daughter together–Kennedy, who is 5.

no one outside of Armstrong’s personal circle would have known the
details of his unraveling had it not been for his involvement with the
reality television show. Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”
employed Taylor as a cast member last season, resulting in the
Armstrongs’ tumultuous marriage and family life being featured on
national TV.

No, I don’t think Bravo is to blame for Russell’s
death. Nor do I think Taylor is for wanting the exposure. But at the end
of the day, I do wonder if something isn’t a little dirty here. Our
living rooms are looking more and more like the Roman Colosseum with its
sordid public spectacles. After all, Russell himself told People of his
impending divorce in relation to the show, “It got really
overwhelming. When you get a TV show involved, and all the
pressure–it just takes it to a whole new level. … We were pushed to

What is our (read: my) fascination with voyeuristic
TV? And why are we all still here to “watch what happens”? Maybe we
shouldn’t be.

Photo credit: Bravo

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Kara Gause

About Kara Gause

Kara Gause is a junkie for TV, film, pop culture, and health food--in that order. A Yankee girl happily transplanted in Nashville, she spends her days as a freelance writer juggling the needs of her twin toddlers, two Bassett hounds, and one fantastic husband--in that order. Read more of her day-to-day shenanigans on her blog,