There is a certain contingent of people out there who are highly offended by “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.” And the common thread is that the show disrespects and misrepresents The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Following the premiere of the series, Brittany Maddux, known as a Mormon influencer on social media, posted on Instagram: “I’m actaully (sic) livid about the housewives. NOT OFFENDED but livid at the worlds (sic) double standard. It’s okay for them to BASH a religion & share fake information about it’s (sic) ‘entertainment’ but HEAVEN FORBID it was another religion or race or group of people because that would be prejudice, wrong, bullying …”
Yes, there have been inaccuracies. One of the Housewives said there are 6 million Latter-day Saints; according to the church, its membership is about 16.5 million. (How many of those are practicing members of the church is unknown.) And, no, there are no fully active, temple recommend-holding church members among the cast members, so viewers aren’t hearing that perspective.
But if you’re convinced that “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” is reflecting poorly on the LDS Church, maybe this will calm you down a bit — by no stretch of the imagination is this a big, hit show.
Through seven episodes, the series is averaging 648,000 viewers per episode. That’s about 0.2% of the population of the United States.
Ratings are relative, and it’s not like Bravo is expecting 5 million viewers to tune in to “RHOSLC.” The original series in the franchise — “Real Housewives of Orange County” — averaged 1,054,000 viewers in the first seven weeks it has been airing in the time slot before “Salt Lake City.”
If the locals had numbers like that, it would probably already be a done deal that they’d return for a second season. Bravo hasn’t renewed “RHOSLC” yet, but that shouldn’t be taken as a sign the show won’t be back. There’s really no reason to renew it now, because — in the midst of the pandemic — there’s virtually no chance production could begin on Season 2.
Bravo only canceled one series in the franchise , “The Real Housewives of D.C.,” after one season. And that came after one of the Housewives (Michaele Salahi) and her then-husband crashed an event at the White House, and the FBI came looking for raw footage. Plus, executive producer Andy Cohen has referred to “Real Housewives of the Potomac” as “D.C adjacent.” Bravo has never canceled any incarnation of “Housewives” after one season just because of ratings, and there’s no indication it will cancel “Salt Lake.”
Here are a few things worth noting about the show’s ratings:
• That 648,000 average viewers number comes from overnight ratings, which are far less important than they once were. They don’t include people who record the show on their DVR and watch it later, and that viewing can make a big difference.
We don’t have complete information for “RHOSLC,” but the numbers from Dec. 12 are worth keeping in mind. Through six episodes, the show is averaging a 0.24 rating among viewers ages 18-49 — the group that advertisers are most willing to pay to reach. On Dec. 2, “RHOSLC” averaged a 0.27 rating in that demo among viewers who watched it live or the same day it aired.
That number more than doubled in the live+7 ratings (those who recorded and watched it within a week), rising to a 0.58.
• “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” is losing 38% of the audience that’s watching “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” And some “Salt Lake” fans are crying foul, claiming that the show is being hurt by a later time slot and insisting it should air earlier. But it’s not quite as clear-cut as they believe.
It is true that, in general, the later a show airs the lower the ratings — simply because the later it gets, the fewer viewers are still awake watching TV. (TV execs know this and they take it into consideration.)
And there’s an argument to be made that by scheduling “RHOSLC” after “RHOC,” Bravo is building an audience for the new show.
If Bravo can establish “RHOSLC,” it could move it to an earlier time slot in Season 2. Assuming there’s a Season 2.
• TV programmers pay close attention to how a show is trending — whether the ratings are going up or down or holding steady. And, to date, “RHOSLC” is holding sort of steady, albeit lower than Bravo would like.
The show got its best overnight numbers for its premiere, which is not unusual for a TV series. And the overnight numbers have looked like this:
Nov. 11 • 785,000
Nov. 18 • 655,000
Nov. 25 • 538,000
Dec. 2 • 711,000
Dec. 9 • 662,000
Dec. 16 • 675,000
That big dip on Nov. 25 might be cause for concern, except that that was the night before Thanksgiving and viewing numbers were down across the board. The same might be said for Dec. 23, although “RHOC” was up very slightly from Dec. 16 — and that comparison is cause for concern. Other than those two nights, “RHOSLC” has held steady and even shown some slight increases, which is a good thing.
Fans are, however, concerned about the future of the series. But executive producer Andy Cohen — a former Bravo programming chief who also hosts “Watch What Happens Live” — tweeted, “Don’t be worried. It’s a hit. We are ecstatic.”
A hit? That’s stretching the truth. And Cohen is not an impartial observer — he has a financial stake in the show’s success.
But it’s way too early to conclude that “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” won’t have a nice long run like its sister shows — “Orange County” (now in its 15th season); “Atlanta” (now in its 13th season); “New York City” (12 seasons); “Beverly Hills” and “New Jersey” (10 seasons each); “Potomac” (now in its fifth season); and “Dallas” (four seasons).
The shortest run by any “Real Housewives” show was “Miami,” which was canceled after three seasons.
By the way, if you’re offended by the content of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” Cohen was correct when he told The Los Angeles Times, “I think there will be a lot of people who say this doesn’t represent Salt Lake City or the Mormon church. It’s not supposed to. It’s supposed to represent a certain group of friends in that area.”
And nobody should take it any more seriously than that.