One of my deepest secrets, that you will probably find out after spending a few hours with me, is that I love Bravo TV. I've developed a dependency on the reality-TV channel that I just can't really rationalize. There is no better way for me to unwind, no better massage for my brain.
So when the popular US network announced it would be doing a "Real Housewives of Washington DC" season, I was initially very excited about the crew coming to my town. But that emotion turned with all the rumors of what a hard time Bravo was having finding anyone in this quite, political, let's-not-be-too-flashy-city to be on the show, and then of course the whole over the top, too tacky to even recap Salahi controversy.
The premiere of the show didn't do much to rekindle any excitement, and I find most of the cast too dry to dish about. While it is entertaining to have the bizarre madness of Tareq and Michaela Salahi on full display for the world to see, if anybody actually shines in this show it is without a doubt the "Sixth DC Housewife," Mr. Paul Wharton.
Who is Paul Wharton? The "TV personality and fashion and lifestyle enthusiast" prefers that title over being labeled just a "Stylist". Paul is a model scout, coach, TV personality, commentator, chef, interior decorator, wardrobe organizer -- he is all over the world of style. As Paul himself described recounting an early childhood experience at a clothing store:
I was probably around 7 or 8, going down the aisles and running my hands through the clothes. I just remember this feeling like, ''Oh, I want to be somewhere in this, I just want to be doing this.''
And somewhere in this he is. Paul's vibrant personality and genuine respect for his friendships is perhaps one of the few "real" qualities of the show. It makes you connect to Wharton's character because you watch him cultivate actual relationships with these "housewives" that they don't have with each other, but have with Paul.
A few episodes in, my husband and I noticed our Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington, DC randomly flashing across our TV screens, images of the building across the street from our home shooting across Bravo TV. Paul Wharton was our neighbor.
What's a girl to do after making such a discovery but invite him over for dinner, right? So, like any good neighbors, that's just what we did. We decided we would go over to him and invite him. Unbelievable, but even more so was that he accepted. He just had one cautionary question: "You guys aren't going to kill me, right?"
We assured Paul we wouldn't. And he assured us the same. Dinner date on!
That night Paul brought a friend with him and we all sat around our table eating. The authenticity of Paul that you see on TV is tangible when you meet him in person. We insisted he sat at the head of the table (it just felt weird for anyone else to that night) and pretended to like our cat (Paul is definitely a dog lover), he complimented my decorating, and ate everything he was served. He was open, loving but most importantly and surprisingly, he was nice. So nice, in fact, that he sat through my entire analysis of the Housewives series!
What I have found with every season of this show though is that there is a character who manages to come across and connect with the audience because they actually have a sincere personality, and their character isn't all scripted. I don't know how much of it the producers of the show manipulate or create, but this person is the one who emerges as the breakaway star of the show, the darling of the audiences.
In the New York Housewife series, it was Bethenny Frankel who now not only has her own spin-off show from Bravo, but an entire line of Skinny Girl Margarita products, books, workout videos.
From the DC Housewives, there is no other cast member whose star shines as bright, if not brighter, than Paul Wharton. He is undoubtedly the breakout star of the Real Housewives of DC, and already has his on TV show, book, skincare line all in the works, as well relaunching his website so that the makeovers Paul does for women on TV, can be accessible to women in their homes.
The most pressing and passionate cause to Paul's heart however is being a powerful advocate and voice for the gay community. He recently made an entire episode of The Real Housewives of DC center around the issue of legalizing gay marriage in Washington. And while speaking out about gay bullying and suicide has become a trendy issue of late, Paul has been bringing attention to the issue long before many other celebrities mainly because he has lived it. He recently told me:
When you're a gay kid, your first instinct is to hide that realization. You find yourself running from people, places, things and trying to be invisible. In the light of the recent gay teenage suicides in the news, it's time to come out of the closet on intolerance and bigotry. I'm concerned that we're not evolving in our society as we should. We all have the responsibility to set an example for our kids. If we teach them intolerance and bigotry, they will end up hating others and themselves.
Who knows what the future of the Real Housewives of DC hold? One thing is for sure- Paul Wharton is the Housewife to pay attention to.
Watch what happens? I think so, Bravo.
Follow Anushay Hossain on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AnushaysPoint