FILE - In this Feb. 5,2011 file photo, television personality Taylor Armstrong, left, and husband Russell Armstrong attend a Super Bowl party in Dallas, Texas. Russell Armstrong, the estranged husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong, has been found dead in his Los Angeles home. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini,File) (Evan Agostini)

Even suicide won't give reality TV a conscience

The "Real Housewives" cast gathers for a "very special" -- and likely very cynical -- tribute to Russell Armstrong

Matt Zoller Seitz
August 30, 2011 5:01PM (UTC)

The beauty of reality TV is that it can absorb anything. No matter what happens to the casts of these programs on- or off-camera -- even a horrific event such as a suicide -- can be folded into the narrative, and the producers can turn it into part of the show, or even a very special episode.

Sure enough, the cast and crew of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" convened yesterday to tape a special reacting to the death of series regular Russell Armstrong, wife of series regular Taylor Armstrong, who killed himself earlier this month.


The Los Angeles Times broke the story yesterday, quoting "sources close to production."

"The ladies of the show -- Lisa Vanderpump, Camille Grammer, Kyle and Kim Richards, and Adrienne Maloof -- filmed the special Monday," the paper said. "Taylor was not present....An individual close to one of the "Housewives" said the ladies were not given specifics as to how things would unfold during their sit-down and that it was intended as a way to get their reactions to what happened."

The show returns for a new season Sept. 5. Previous reports have said that the series was heavily edited in the wake of Russell Armstrong's suicide. It's not yet clear if the special will kick off the new season or air later.

Matt Zoller Seitz

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