After just 10 episodes and a one-part reunion, Season 1 of The Real Housewives of Dallas is in the rear-view mirror. Bravo has yet to announce whether the Texas ladies will be back for a second season, so for this week's feature I'm breaking down what made the first year in Dallas great and what needs to change if it comes back next year for Season 2.
WHY IT WORKED
- The Dallas difference: In order for any city in the Housewives franchise to stand out, it has to add its own unique flavor to the legacy of the cities that have come before it. Texas was certainly new territory for the mostly-coastal Housewives universe, and the new perspective it offered had both positive and negative elements. While the ladies' emphasis on the "Dallas charity world" seemed like overkill to some fans, I personally liked that philanthropy played such a key role in establishing the show's identity. From Mad Hatter's to the Grace Project Conference, the many charity events featured on-camera gave the Housewives ample opportunity to interact and engage while using the limelight to do some good. Plus, who didn't love watching the women argue over petty grievances like their social status and standing in the charity world?
- Old-school OC vibes: When Andy Cohen announced that we'd be getting two new Housewives franchises this year, he assured us that they reminded him of early seasons in Orange County and New York City. And while the Potomac 'Wives gave off echoes of Manhattan, the ladies of RHOD were brimming over with shades of vintage OC. Dallas reminded me of the flagship series in the franchise because, at its heart, it was all about these women and their families. Whether Tiffany Hendra was trying to persuade her rocker husband and his perfect hair to move to Dallas permanently or Stephanie Hollman was visiting her hometown of Coweta, Oklahoma, family came first for the Dallas Wives...just like it does in the OC. In particular, Brandi Redmond's tumultuous family life was the source of endless fodder for the cameras. From the former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader's marital strife with her checked-out husband Bryan to watching her cope with her brother's PTSD-related suicide attempt and meeting her estranged grandfather for the first time, Brandi let us completely into her world. Talk about shaking all the skeletons out of the family tree...
- LeeAnne Locken, carny queen: Whether you love her or love to hate her, there's no doubt that the fiery queen bee of Dallas simply made the show this season. LeeAnne's journey from a childhood spent on the carnival circuit to becoming a self-made socialite through sheer grit and determination of will was Housewives gold in terms of backstory. And if you don't believe me, consider this: over the course of a single season, she managed to feud with literally every other member of the cast - including an epic curbside shoving match with her BFF Tiffany where one of Bravo's cameras became collateral damage and threatening to gut Friend of the Housewives Marie Reyes "carny-style" on the cast trip to Austin. Every show in the franchise needs a breakout star, and while she's nothing like Bethenny Frankel or Teresa Giudice, LeeAnne is the bright pink blush-wearing OG-in-the-making that Dallas never even knew it needed.
WHAT COULD CHANGE
- No more poop jokes: While getting a peek into the Dallas charity world was a positively unique thing RHOD added to the franchise, the cast's preoccupation with poop, farts and juvenile humor made the show stand out for all the wrong reasons. When Brandi brought up the first poop joke in the series premiere, I was hoping the immature humor was a fluke, but I was unfortunately very wrong - not a single episode went by without some mention of fecal matter. Even more frustrating was the fact that a number of the season's major plot points revolved around some form of poop. From the scandal of Brandi's poop-themed hat at Mad Hatter's to the humiliation of LeeAnne's poop story from 15 years ago becoming common knowledge on the trip to Austin, we literally couldn't get away from the disgusting subject. Quite frankly, every mention of it was just gross and in poor taste. If the show gets a second season, any and all potty humor or poop talk needs to be banned by production.
- Step up the reunion, please: I was honestly shocked when, after everything that had occurred over the preceding 10 episodes, Bravo chose to make the Season 1 reunion just a single episode. Yes, they claimed it was "supersized" by adding an additional 15 minutes to the hour, I find it hard to believe that after an entire day of filming, Bravo's cameras only got enough footage to justify a one-part reunion. Whether the 'Wives simply didn't engage enough on the couches or it was a choice made by production, the reunion needs to be at least two parts next season. Hear that ladies? Get ready to bring it for Season 2.
- Cast shake-ups: Tweaking the lineup is an inevitability in the Housewives universe, and in the case of RHOD, it's an exercise the show could benefit from if it gets a chance at a second season. It's no secret that the Texas franchise had significantly lower ratings than any of the other Housewives cities including fellow newbie Potomac (and even its lead-in Southern Charm), so production would be wise to shake things up and perfect the Dallas recipe. In theory, the idea of two sets of BFFs - LeeAnne/Tiffany and Brandi/Stephanie - held significant promise, but didn't pan out quite as explosively as I suspect Bravo was hoping it would. In fact, while Brandi started out the season as the primary foil to LeeAnne's intensity, Cary Deuber ended up being the dark horse who became LeeAnne's only formidable foe by season's end. First and foremost, if the show gets a Season 2, Marie needs to be upgraded to full-time status. And if someone has to be cut loose, my vote would be to lose Brandi. Not only would that solve half of the poop problem mentioned above, but Brandi's admitted on Twitter that she's not even sure she has it in her to do another season. Therefore, my ideal cast for Season 2 would be for LeeAnne, Cary, Tiffany, Stephanie and Marie to return along with a brand new sixth Housewife. If they need a Friend of the Housewives to round out the group, I'd nominate Heidi Dillon, who made a few controversial appearances this season. Any way casting shakes out, the show would benefit from growing in a different direction and upping the overall glamour, wealth and luxury to get on par with the rest of the cities in the franchise.
Since I don't have any other seasons of RHOD to rank Season 1 against, I'm going to give it an overall grade of B-. While the Dallas 'Wives gave us some entertaining moments over their first 11 episodes, the show didn't quite live up to fans' expectations or its own potential. There's significant room for improvement if Bravo decides to give the Dallas franchise a Season 2. Until we find out, don't forget that if you associate yourself with garbage, your charity world will go down in flames. Bow at me!